As an emergency telephone line for victims of domestic violence launches in Syria, a pioneering project is training professionals to support affected women. A group of lawyers, social workers and volunteers from Dera’a and Yarmouk Legal Advice Bureaux studied the legal issues concerning domestic violence during the three-month course.
The training, offered with the support of the Damask Rose Trust and the British Embassy in Syria, also focuses on discrimination against women and children.
The course finishes in early March, with a graduation ceremony on 16 March, timed to reference International Women’s Day the week before. The participants will also be inaugurating Syria’s first-ever emergency telephone line for people affected by domestic violence, which will operate in Yarmouk.
Daad Mousa, a lawyer turned women’s rights’ activist, ran the workshop. She said: “I’ve been working for the past 15 years in the field of legal counselling for women that are victims of violence and have been involved in several important projects, but this one in particular tops them all.”
The group learned invaluable tools for better performing their emotionally demanding jobs. The workshop included in-depth courses on international law and conventions on women’s rights, as well as courses on Syrian legal and administrative procedures regarding violence against women and children.
Participants also had the chance to apply their new abilities to real-life case studies.
Hatifa Rashid, a Yarmouk social worker who took part in the workshop, said: “This is one of the first efforts of its kind in Syria - a hotline for people that suffer domestic violence. It is a new step towards addressing the problem and eventually preventing it.
“That is why I feel so happy to be a part of this and be able to help other people, making women feel they are not alone.”
The Damask Rose Trust is a registered UK charity established in 2006 by a group of British and Syrian academics, development specialists and philanthropists. It supports welfare and development projects in Syria, and promotes appreciation of Syria’s cultural heritage among British audiences. The Trust focuses on training and capacity-building projects which meet the needs of disadvantaged groups, especially among young people, women, the elderly and people affected by disability.
This training is part of a series of activities and capacity-building workshops carried out by UNRWA with the financial support of the Damask Rose Trust.
Text by Diego Gomez-Pickering