While the whole world, with rare notorious exceptions like Somalia and Afghanistan, is moving towards actual elimination of all forms of violence and discrimination against women, the Syrian government has chosen the totally opposite path.

The Syrian government, (specially the Council of Ministers and the Ministries of Justice, Islamic Affairs and Social Affairs) has proven that it considers the Syrian woman, not as a human being and a citizen, rather it considers her as an odalisque and a birth machine. This behavior is crystal clear not only through its consistent refusal to eliminate the worst manifestations of violence against women (like the legal articles that protect criminals in what is so called "honour crime", and denying Syrian women the right to pass their nationality to their children, and many other discriminations), the Syrian government has worked for the last year to pass a new law that infringes the basic rights of the Syrian woman. A law that has no aim, but to demean women and divide Syria into sectarian mini-states by abolishing the notion of citizenship which is the basic principle to build a state.

Some governmental officials have expressed previously their disapproval of marking International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women in Syria claiming that there is no such violence in the country! While at the same time, an official study issued by General Federation of Syrian Women and was blacked out by some, discovered that 1 out of every 4 women in Syria suffers from violence on a daily basis. Moreover, a closer look at the study reveals that the actual number of abused women is larger by far.

It is true that Syria paved the way for the Syrian woman to participate nearly fully in building the society, whether through the constitution, the laws of work and pensions and opening the door for her to be a policy maker. It seems, however, that the Syrian government wants to achieve a totally different aim. It wants to cancel what has been achieved and go back in time to the black era of "Bab- El-Hara" by refusing to issue licenses to dozens of organizations which want to work against such violence and by hindering the work of those organizations which actually work on the ground. It wants to achieve that through restraining the Syrian media and its refusal to work on a modern family law based on the notion of citizenship.

The Syrian government knows quite well that such acts could only deteriorate the situation of the Syrian women further. For that exact reason, it works from behind closed doors denying that it plays such a destroying role.

Unfortunately, some Syrian political parties that claim having a secular, national and social agenda whether they are part of the dominant coalition or not, act as bystanders to what is going on in a direct or indirect collusion, probably to save their fake interests.

The same thing unfortunately applies to most of organizations that have in their name, the two broadly used words "human rights". These organizations have chosen to keep silent about the draft law of Syria’s Personal Status Code that infringes the basic rights of every Syrian citizen. Such organizations have chosen to keep silent about anything that is said to be derived from the "Shariaa law" by those who have the authority, the authority to religiously condemn others and consider them as infidels.

Moreover, the same applies to most of the organizations that work on women's issues. They have chosen the easiest and safest path through which they guarantee only the interests of their members. They think of women's issues only when there is a paid study or a workshop abroad. They even deny to pass the knowledge for those who want it in Syria and accumulated their books and expertise for those who pay more.

The situation of the Syrian organizations working in the field of feminism is not that bright niether. These organizations suffer from grave crises within and among themselves. These organizations bear most of responsibility concerning the current situation, taking into consideration that obstacles are not the main reasons for them not to be active and working fully.

We stress today on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, that eliminating this violence is considered one of the basic human rights as well as citizenship rights. "The country can't be safe while half of its population is unsafe", this motto which has been blacked out by the Syrian media seems dangerous to the male-dominated perspective of the government.

We call for all the political parties and organizations to get out of this gloomy tunnel by working away from the interests and the temporary bargains and towards delivering the real truth to people who live the discrimination and violence always and everywhere. Taking into consideration that paying some kind of "fine" is inevitable because bringing about change is not an easy task free of obstacles and repercussions.

Our gratitude is dedicated to all the individuals who and organizations which have considered the issue of woman's rights a priority during the past few years, and tried to proof that these rights are part of the citizenship rights, and showed their determination to go on in their struggle towards a fair society that guarantees equality and is free of discrimination and violence. Those people and organizations proved once and for all that the Syrian society is active and ready to move when it deems necessary.

The International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women is a sad ceremony to say together: No for violence against women, No for violence against any human, No for violence against Syria, because all kinds of violence come from the same melting pot and lead to one result: dividing and degrading the society.

Once again, Syrian Women Observatory reiterate its call to mark October 29th an International Day of Solidarity with Victims of Honor Crimes and to urge the United Nations to adopt it.

The national campaign against honour crime will continue until it achieves its ultimate aim of eliminating this shameful crime from the Syrian society: legally, institutionally, religiously, and socially.

By: SWO, 1/12/2009, (International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women: Syria moves towards supporting violence)

Translated by Basel Jbaily

source in Arabic