"Domestic violence is a global phenomenon that all societies and all social classes suffer from, but women and children make the biggest share of its victims. Amnesty International reports that many countries are unable to protect women in their own families."

That was some of the things judge Fares Sattouf said during a lecture of domestic violence he gave at the General Women Union (GWU) building in Homs.
Judge Sattouf continues speaking of the domestic violence in Syria:
"The statistic data in a study mentioned that 73% of women who suffered from violence have been harmed by family members.
A study made by the GWU pointed that there is 19 types of domestic violence, categorizing under the types of psychological violence, sexual violence, verbal violence, and others. One study pointed that verbal violence sums 50% of general cases of domestic violence.
Another study mentioned that physical violence is the cause of 90% of divorce cases raised by women.
• Why doesn't anybody report that to the police?
Most domestic violence victims are women who don't want others to know they were subjected to violence, following local saying "you can slay me between us, just don't scandal me before the neighbors", another part of women thinks that the father, brother, or husband is entitled of harming them, or that it's a temporary status that doesn't deserve being reported, and the most important factor in the lack of reports is the victim's weakness and fear of the unknown awaiting her if she left the family.
• What are the causes of domestic violence?
The lecturer thinks there is several causes, most important ones are:
- Disputes between spouses and lack of communication between family members.
- Rough economical situations.
- Large number of family members. ("Smaller family = Better future" represents the best motto to establish a held-together, loving, good, violence free family).
- Drug or Alcohol abuse.
- Being a subject to violence earlier (as children).
- Work pressures (studies confirms the connection).
- A mismatch in thoughts and traditions between spouses.
- A troubles marriage life.
- The victim's silence despite the violence she's subjected to.
- The wrong understanding of masculinity as being bossy and mean towards women and children, and looking to women as a second-grade-creature no matter how far she gets in education and work, unfortunately women get affected by these thoughts and lose their self-confidence.
• How to treat domestic violence?
Mr. Sattouf sais that protecting the family from violence is everyone's responsibility and there's some things to consider:
- Explaining the concept of family and hoe spouses should treat each others to newly-weds. Judge Sattouf laid the necessity of creating a system of seminars to educate newly-weds on how to handle marriage problems and not the entire marriage life.
- Taking care of children and raising family's knowledge of the parenting skills for children and teenagers, which is everyone's responsibility, but the biggest rile stays for the ministry of social affairs, ministry of education, the GWU and other organizations. Mr. Sattouf also concentrated on the role played by societies concerned of the violence subject.
- Having centers dedicated to receiving domestic violence victims, and a network of developed services that provides their services to protect those under the claws of violence both financially and psychologically.
Mr. Sattouf pointed that the family had had interest in Syria, starting with the constitution, through all the laws and decisions. And the penalty law which has an independent section for family-concerned crimes, and stressed punishment for immoral crimes. And the establishment of the Syrian Authority for Family Affairs concentrating on family's issues and especially women. He also mentioned the GWU.
He also pointed out to some of the existing law-drafts specializing in family, that the foundations and authorities concerned of family are working to issue as laws, like the funding chest for divorce expenses and we aspire to have a chest to compensate victims of violence, in addition to dorms for custody rights owners of women, and the draft to the family courts law, and a lot of discussions about the amendment of some laws regarding Honor crimes, and nothing has took place till now.
The audience made some notes, among them:
Lawyer Yousef Ghala: Assured the idea that violence could target every member of the family, and appealed parliament members Hasan El-Ekhwan & Najat Atallah to work seriously for alternating the personal-affairs laws and the penalty laws he finds so cruel.
Miss Najat El-Attar (parliament member) said: there's a committee in the parliament made up of women, lawyers, and men of religion, who discuss the amendment of several laws hat concerns the family, which will soon be put to action, but the laws regarding honor crimes aren't about to be alternated soon, (we can't have it all at once).
Lawyer Amal Younes: Assured the importance of altering the penalty laws, passing the segments banning birth-controllers and how that conflicts the actions made by the ministry of Health, and the segments that justifies killing women under the justification of "honor".
Thanaa Al-Sabaa (Syrian Women Observatory) : assured the importance of raising the subject of domestic violence in the GWU as a step to break the barrier of silence built around this subject
And the importance of adjusting the laws to fit the condition Syrian women are in. Cause it's unacceptable for the law to justify a husband killing his woman because he heard some cat claw the door, which is the story mentioned by the lecturer from a Syrian newspaper, or for it to allow a parent to have his 13-years-old daughter married???
And affirming the idea of the seminars raised shyly by the lecturer for newly-weds and married-to-bees, and that they should include several subjects like birth controlling in order to reach smaller families, and legal knowledge for women, and parenting matters.
Mrs. Maha El-Soufy: wished that men see this kind of lectures, and stressed the importance of having campaigns to raise knowledge of domestic violence, and not to keep silent about it cause there's a lot of tragic cases we hear about.
Lawyer Ghassan Habbal: Set the idea of that the Islamic religion mustn't be a justification for keeping laws unchanged, cause Islam dignified women. But he assured the importance of having a pilot for the family to get it to achieve the best, referring to the Quran words of men's custody over women, which started talks in the hall regarding the concept of "custody" and hitting cacophonous women.
Ms. Zoubayda Ganseez of the legal women society: laid the importance of having the chest to compensate victims of violence mentioned earlier, and how important it is to spread among women that the solution to violence is by not kneeling to it.
Ms. Zoubayda also laid the idea that women are classier than men by nature, which started a side talk with us in SWO cause we didn't approve the idea, then she insisted that this is exactly the problem: women don't approve to be the best in anything.
This lecture was extremely important in terms of its ability to raise big discussions among audience that went on till after its finish, and a lot of points remained hanged.

Thanaa Al-Sabaa, 23/711/2007, (Domestic violence, a global phenomenon that we keep in the dark)
Translated by: Nawar El-Sabaa (member of the SWO teamwork)

Read the Arabic text