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Human Rights Watch unveils the extent of sexual abuse against Syrian displaced women


In its report published yesterday, Human Rights Watch highlighted the different forms of sexual abuse, harassment and exploitation subjected to Syrian displaced women by employers, landlords as well as by humanitarian aid workers even in faith based organizations and more generally by members of the local community.
The report was based on individual interviews with 12 Syrian displaced women conducted between the months of August and September 2013.  All interviewees are registered with the UNHCR but none has reported the abuse due essentially to their lack of confidence that the proper authorities will take any action to protect them and because of fear from retaliation by the abusers especially for those who do not have any official paper.
The report urges the Lebanese authorities and the United Nations to improve mechanisms for reporting sexual and all forms of abuses, and to ensure that perpetrators are duly punished.  The report notes that the Ministry of Social Affairs has actually addressed only one case of sexual exploitation and a number of cases of sexual harassment allegedly by one humanitarian aid worker in a faith-based organisation.  The Ministry referred that case to the local Mufti and that person was subsequently sacked from his job.  However, the alleged criminal was not referred to the judicial system and no official investigation was carried out.
The report concludes by highlighting the importance that government and UNHCR structures inform Syrian displaced women of their right to file complaints, and on how to do so.  According to the report, the Ministries of Social Affairs and of Interior should put in place referral mechanisms amongst service providers and law enforcers.
Source: Al-Safir, Al-Akhbar, Al-Nahar, Al-Mustaqbal 28 November 2013

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