Posted by on September 24, 2013 in Blog
By Dena Elian
Fall Intern, 2013
Last week, three Syrian women were invited to a round table event on Capitol Hill hosted by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) to illustrate the injustices that occur every day in their home country and to outline what they want from US policymakers. The women gave graphic accounts of the rape, kidnapping, and organ and sex trafficking that have been inflicted upon the Syrian people, women especially. The Damascus natives spoke on behalf of the Syrian Women’s Forum for Peace, an organization that aims to promote a democratic state in Syria achieved through peaceful means and increase participation by women in the political process.
While the media has abidingly covered debates and opinions regarding U.S. military action against the Syrian government, the concerns of the victims themselves have been underrepresented. The motivation behind Maloney’s forum was to provide a microphone to a voice seldom heard in the media: Syrian women’s.
Mouna Ghanem, the group’s general organizer and Vice President of the political movement Building the Syrian State, began by firmly expressing her opposition to military intervention in Syria. “We need, as Syrians, to take the lead in Syria,” she said. “Military intervention didn’t help the Iraqi people or people of Kosovo. It's only through diplomatic solutions and peaceful reconciliation that we will achieve peace. We have to lead the change by empowering civil society. Women should be involved in the political process.”
Ghanem formerly served as a deputy chairperson for the UN International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW) and also as the Regional Director for the United Nation Fund for Women (UNIFEM) in Amman, Jordan. In a discussion at the Women in the World Summit in April, Ghanem said, “What is happening to Syrian women is not just a women’s issue, it’s a foreign-policy issue.” Within the greater Syrian humanitarian crisis has been an ongoing rape crisis. Women inside Syria are being sexually assaulted at an alarming rate by both sides as a tactic to intimidate and humiliate the other. Accounts of women committing suicide as a result have been reported.
At the forum on the Hill, Ghanem alluded on multiple occasions to her organization’s determination to end the war and achieve democracy through a political solution, including an end to arming the rebel groups; she claims it’s worsening the situation.
Ghanem’s final push during the discussion encouraged individuals to demand that their political leaders attend the proposed conference in Geneva and advocate for peace.
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