Syria has finally broken a taboo with a study on the mounting violence against women. The study was presented by the General Union of Women supported with funds from the United Nations Development Fund for Women, which found that one in four married women gets beaten -- usually by her husband or father. A campaign has also been called to raise awareness of the problem.
In Syria violence against women is usually from family members with over 70% being from husbands, fathers or brothers. The reasons for the violence range from obscure reasons like neglecting housework to nagging husbands. Less than one percent of the women who had been surveyed had reported violence from complete strangers.
Family honor and prestige are issues, which prevent a female relative from reporting abuse at the hands of the male family members. Although such reports would be dealt with imprisonment, reports of assaults are very rare
Syrian Member of Parliament and the president of the General Union of Women, Souad Bukour reported that plans for awareness included programs like short drama series and other activities involving Muslim and Christian religious leaders. According to her the status of women in Syria was better than in many other developing countries, yet there was still scope for improvement.
Like certain other Arab countries, Syrian law advocates lenient sentences to men who murder women relatives that are involved in extramarital affairs, also known as "honor killings". Other murderers usually get the death penalty or life imprisonment.
Experts have estimated that there are about 200 to 300 "honor" crimes a year in Syria, especially among the rural or nomadic communities, from which one infers that about half of the murders committed in Syria are against women with honor stated to be the reason.