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Population size: 

17,513,063 [1]

Number of people experiencing domestic abuse each year:

Official statistics are difficult to find. It is estimated 46,500 women to suffer from GBV as a result of the conflict. [2]

Study by UN Development Fund for Women is the first to explore the different types of violence experienced by women in Syria. It found that the number of abused women is more than 1 in 4." [3]

No research on male victims or other gender identities.

Cost of domestic abuse to the economy each year:

No research.

Estimated % change due to COVID-19:

No research.

Current law and policy:

The available evidence suggests that Syria does not have specific legislation in place tailored to Domestic Violence. Additional risk factors exacerbating rates and intensity of DOMESTIC VIOLENCE include the proliferation of small arms during the ongoing conflict.

In 2014 the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women noted in the concluding observations in their second periodic report their concerns as to “the high incidence of violence against women, in particular domestic violence in the State party and about: (a) The absence of comprehensive legislation on domestic violence; (b) The lack of explicit provisions in the Penal Code criminalizing marital rape as well as the fact that despite its amendment by Decree No. 1/2011, article 508 of the Penal Code still exempts rapists from punishment if they marry their victims; and (c) Delays in establishing the Family Protection Unit and the low number of shelters for women victims of violence in the country.” They recommended, inter alia, that the Syrian Arab Republic adopt “comprehensive legislation to prevent and criminalise domestic violence which provides for protection, assistance and support for victims.” [4]

These concerns were echoed in a 2016 report prepared by the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, submitted to the Human Rights Council as part of the Universal Periodic Review mechanism. In particular, they called on the Syrian Arab Republic to “pass a law to protect women from domestic violence, including direct and effective enforcement measures”.[5] They also noted how the proliferation of small arms in the ongoing conflict threatened to exacerbate the intensity of domestic violence suffered by victims, given that: “In light of the low social and economic living standards due to the war (displacement, living in camps lacking basic needs, and poor income), women are usually the most affected by the acquisition of this type of arms. The report of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) on small arms and their impact on women points out that the presence of a such arms in a household will increase by five times the likelihood of turning spousal violence into murder. On average, one third of women killed are murdered with a small firearm. The proliferation of individual arms increases GBV forms and manifestations already existing in a predominantly patriarchal society. This increases the vulnerability of women, especially in the absence of the rule of law.”

On 2 July 2020, UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka and UNFPA Executive Director Natalia Kanem, on the occasion of the Brussels IV Syria Conference, launched a call to put women at the centre of Syria’s response to COVID-19 in part because they faced increased risk of gender-based violence.[6]