The Syrian Opposition Coalition’s (SOC) Office for Women held a panel discussion under the title ‘women’s constitutional legal rights’ as part of its activities to explore women’s awareness of their rights under the law. The Office hosted Dr. Raghda Zaidan, legal experts, as well as human rights, political, and civil society activists.
Zaidan provided a historical overview on the status of women in the Syrian constitutions and laws as well as the date when Syrian women were granted the right to vote and run for elections. She highlighted the major discriminatory laws against women such as the citizenship law and the penal code, including punishment for rape, sexual harassment and adultery.
Zaidan also shed light on the status of Syrian women before the Syrian Revolution, making it clear that it was not possible to talk about women in Syria separately from men or from the family. She also noted that Syria was ranked first among the Arab countries in terms of the so-called honor killings, adding that women are subjected to physical and psychological violence, whether by their husbands or before marriage, such as forced marriage and depriving them of the right to inheritance.
She also touched on the situation of Syrian women during the Syrian Revolution and the circumstances that highlighted their true role, capacity, and societal, civic and economic competencies. She said that more than a quarter of households in Syria are being supported by women who are facing many societal and traditional challenges.
Participants stressed the need to introduce constitutional and legal texts as well as to raise awareness in society, ensure respect for women’s rights and needs, and achieve equal citizenship. They also stressed the need to make a distinction between traditions and Sharia law and to enact special laws that take into account the current circumstances so as to help empower women and engage them in the efforts to rebuild Syria. They also called for drawing legislations and laws that protect women from violence, assault, and harassment; raise community awareness; and legalize a quota for representation according to a specific timeframe in order to enhance women’s political and administrative participation. (Source: SOC’s Media Department)