Thousands of Syrian women face gender-based violence

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A line of Syrian refugee women, some carrying children, cross into Jordan from southern Syria. The outflow this year has been staggering. © UNHCR/N.Daoud

Over 6,000 Syrian women and girls have been subjected to gender-based violence including rape, according to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

UNFPA says the figure could be higher, and priority is being given to the provision of medical, psychosocial treatment and legal assistance to the victims.

The Fund says access to quality reproductive healthcare services and family planning inside Syria has reduced as a result of the damage to health facilities, depleted stocks and lack of qualified health personnel.

Up to 300,000 pregnant women will need to be reached with emergency delivery kits over the next few months to facilitate safe deliveries and prevent fatal infections for both mother and child.

Dan Baker, UNFPA's Regional Humanitarian Response Coordinator for Syria, says the number of women delivering through caesarean section in Syria has dramatically increased during the crisis.

In the last two weeks of May we were able to provide psychosocial or psychological first aid to 2,000 women inside Syria, which may in fact be the tip of the iceberg, but it shows we are actually doing something to mitigate the circumstances of women who have been affected by violence inside Syria. 4,000 refugee women were provided with some sort of serves dealing with the effects of GBV (gender-based violence). Inside Syria right now 35 to 65 per cent of women are having caesarean section. The maximum according to WHO standard is 15 per cent. And the reason why that figure is so high is that both women and their providers, these are the midwives or their doctors, are afraid that under normal circumstances they won't be able to give the delivery. So therefore they are doing a kind of preventive caesarean section so that the woman can be assured of having a safe delivery. 

UNFPA says it requires $40 million to be able to deliver life-saving reproductive health services to prevent maternal deaths and cases of gender-based violence for internally displaced persons and Syrian refugees.

Patrick Maigua, United Nations Radio, Geneva.

Duration: 2’07″

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