…and suddenly it feels like being back at the Middle Ages. In Russia, a bill was waved through that focuses on the decriminalization of domestic violence. That means domestic violence is no longer being charged as a crime, but as a minor breach of law. That seems like a slap in the face to the estimated 600,000 women* who are experiencing violence each year. Their invisibility will increase, no big solidarity campaign was set up on Facebook and no large media echo was heard.
Russia is of course not a single case. In Madrid, a group of women* have just started a hunger strike to raise awareness of the fact that 44 women* have been killed in Spain last year at the hands of their partners.
And in Germany, domestic violence permeates through all strata of society. In 2015 around 100,000 cases were reported, according to the official numbers of the Federal Criminal Police Office so the actual figure probably will be much higher.
Violence against women* has many faces. It is not a private concern; it is a problem of our society and should be treated as such. Therefore, it must be called out – everywhere it happens and called out loudly!
Everybody’s own four walls must be a place of safety and security. But what about all the women* who are refugees these days and living in camps?
UNHCR stated that since 2011 around 3 million people left Syria to seek refuge in neighbouring countries. 50,5% of them are women*, most of them living in camps in Jordan, Lebanon or Turkey. Even though the situation in all three countries might differ, the problems women* are facing are similar: no access to basic hygiene, including access to clean water and menstrual hygiene products, insufficient health care, increasing numbers of sexual transmitted diseases and often no access to contraceptives. Often, the precaution and aftercare of pregnant women* is not secured. Additionally, the incidence of gender based violence and sexual harassment is increasing. Also child marriage is a topic that is becoming more important to address: every third marriage among Syrian refugees is of a girl under the age of 18.
Even though the UN calls the Syria conflict the biggest humanitarian crisis of the 21st century, the situation of women* is not specially regarded, hence the massive risks to the safety of female refugees are well known. And therefore it is sad, but not surprising, that in a survey conducted at a Lebanese refugee camp 53% of women* stated that they do not feel safe and had thoughts about suicide.
Access to health care is a human right and an important first step to make the world to a safe and fair place for all genders. We are happy to contribute with our “Mobile Hospital” to the safety and security of people in regions of crises. There is still a lot to do, so let's get started!