LDHR has the pleasure to share with you our report entitled
“Knowledge, Attitudes and Stigma Surrounding Sexual Violence and its Survivors in Syrian Communities” elaborated in close collaboration with Synergy for Justice.
Sexual violence has been used in Syria as a weapon of war to break opposition to authority, destroy families and destabilise communities. The scale and nature of sexual violence inflicted against Syrians will have long-lasting destructive effects due to the stigma that fuels division and further cycles of violence and trauma. This is why we consider it critical to understand the different types of stigmas associated with sexual violence, the underlying root causes and the misconceptions associated therewith to determine how best to address them and mitigate their effects on the victims, their families and the community, now and for future generations.
After working with Syrian survivors of sexual violence to document cases and refer them for services, it became clear that stigma with all its layers, its manifestations and its consequences were not well-understood or well-addressed in Syrian communities. As part of its community stigma initiatives, LDHR conducts workshops aimed at mobilising its first responders to catalyse community dialogue and action. Together with Synergy experts, LDHR designed and conducted a baseline knowledge and attitude survey in six Syrian communities located in Syria, Jordan and Turkey to better understand the communities’ attitudes, understanding, and response to sexual violence. After completing pilot community stigma action plans in four of the six communities, LDHR conducted followup surveys to get an understanding of changes in attitudes over time and in response to the work done therein, and carried out its stigma community action work in those communities. As a result, LDHR recorded significant changes in attitude in all four communities over a short period of time. The results, detailed in the report, give hope that stigma can be impacted by thoughtful interventions and community-driven dialogue.
LDHR and Synergy hope that this report and the survey results can help spark community discussion about stigma in its many forms and with its many dangers and impacts. The hope is that the recommendations set out in the report, as well as the lessons learned, are taken up by programmers, implementers and funders so that Syrians are supported in collective efforts within their communities to remove the divisions of stigma. LDHR believes that those addressing the issue of stigma need to create supportive, connected environments to allow those subjected to sexual violence to heal and fully participate in their community life again.