In a recent Syrian study of domestic violence against women in the nation, more than one quarter of all married women were found to have been beaten. The study included almost 2,000 Syrian families of varied income levels and religion. Men and women in the survey were questioned separately.
The survey is the first comprehensive research project of its kind in Syria, and was part of a report by the United Nations Development Fund for Women, according to the New York Times.
The General Union of Women, which oversees the welfare of Syria's women, carried out the survey.
"There are some forms of violence against women that our society doesn't even see as violence," said Hana Qaddoura, a spokeswoman for the General Union of Women.
It all depends very much on education and income level, but many people see a woman who is beaten as being in a bad relationship; they don't see her as a victim of violence," she added.
Local Syrian media published the results of the study, drawing attention to the problem of violence against women, including honor killings. Qaddoura added that breaking the silence on domestic abuse was an important step to combating violence.
Shirin Shukri, a manager of the project at the United Nations regional office in Amman, Jordan, state that "In Syria there was simply no data on violence against women; formal studies hadn't ever been done before."
Many women are trying to develop programs to protect women in response to the study's findings.
"The issue of violence against women was kept silent here for many years. But we're making people in Syria aware that this is something that happens everywhere in Europe, in Asia, in the United States, and this is opening up discussion," Ms. Shukri added.
© 2006 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com )