Alia Turki Al-Rabeo
Whatever the percentage of female-folk in Syria may be, they remain invisible, deaf and dumb to the law. They do speak for themselves but the sound wave die in a deadly vacuum that surrounds their souls. They are seen but only as objects of desire or housemaids. They told but only the things they should follow. Yet their contribution to the life and economy is visible to any pair of eyes having normal vision.
Whatever you name the situation here, we are not giving up. In this sprawling country, only two associations are authorized i.e. AL-Mubadra Al-Ejteemaia (Social Initiative) and Jamaaia Tatoeer Al-Maraa (Association of the Development of Women). Amongst active organizations but non-licensed bodies Rabtat Al-Nisaa Al-Souriat (Syrian Women's League), focuses on the Personal Status Law while Lajna le Daam Hokok Al-Maraa (Committee for Support on Women Issues) strives to change gender discriminatory laws. Moreover, Markaz Alderasat Alislami (Centre of Islamic Studies) and Kokab Al-la Oneef (Forum Alkz Barre) cannot be ignored for their struggle on legal front and non-violence respectively.
Such NGOs are spearheading a major campaign on the nationality issue of the kids born from a foreigner father and some activists within media are extending a vital support. They even submitted public motion to the Syrian assembly in 2004 but nothing changed so far.
Two years ago, human rights activities and women associations held a big conference on honor crimes to recommend new laws to the assembly, which too proved a cry in the wilderness.
Last year, the government issued a draft personal status law, with more discriminatory regulations against the female folk. The good news is that activists in Syria not only rejected the draft but also made an effective noise. Resultantly, the draft legislation became causality in infancy.
This activism comes at a cost for such NGOs as working without a cumbersome licensing process and official nod hinders their funding prospects. Syria terms any transactions for such organization as illegal.
Today, any claim for women’s rights is considered an assault to traditions, a cost that often is too high to bear. Widespread public inaction towards civic responsibilities and general lack volunteerism in Syria not only affects strength of such organizations but also creates shortage of skilled activists.