Syrian Arab Republic

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The on-going hostilities in the Syrian Arab Republic have had a severe impact on its civilian population, particularly women, who have faced increased levels of sexual violence and discrimination.[1] Rape is being used as an instrument of war.[2] Syrian women also face strong pressure to conform to prevailing social norms regarding acceptable female behaviour, in order to ensure that the family’s ‘honour’ is upheld. [3]Syrian women have seen their economic opportunities improve in recent years, with greater numbers of women entering the workforce. [4] But they still face various degrees of inequality in the social sphere, as well as potential condemnation if they are overly visible and active in the public sphere.[5]
The Constitution of the Syrian Arab Republic grants equal rights to all its citizens in article 25, regardless of gender, and article 45 states that women are guaranteed ‘all the opportunities that enable them to participate fully and effectively in political, social, cultural, and economic life’. Nonetheless, individual laws contain discriminatory provisions, and no legislation specifically prohibits gender-based discrimination.[6] The Syrian Arab Republic ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Violence against Women in 2003, but has not yet ratified the Optional Protocol.[7] Reservations to the Convention were made to Article 9(2), concerning the mother’s right to pass on her nationality to her children; Article 15(4), regarding freedom of movement and choice of domicile; Article 16(1), mandating equal rights and responsibilities during marriage and upon its dissolution with regard to guardianship, kinship, maintenance, and adoption; Article 16(2), regarding the legal effect of the betrothal and marriage of a child; and Article 29(1), regarding arbitration between countries in the event of a dispute.[8]
 
[1] CEDAW (2013) p.1 [2] Freedom House (2014) [3] Kelly and Breslin (eds.) (2010) p.465 [4] Idem, p.470 [5] Idem, p.479 [6] Idem, p.462 [7] United Nations Treaty Collection (2014) [8] Kelly and Breslin (eds.) (2010) pp.463-464; CEDAW (2013) p.2; Amnesty International (2013) p.3
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