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Understanding women's experience of violence and the political economy of gender in conflict: the case of Syria.

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-17
Number of pages13
JournalReproductive Health Matters
Issue number47
Early online date31 May 2016
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 31 May 2016


Political conflicts create significant risks for women, as new forms and pathways of violence emerge, and existing patterns of violence may get amplified and intensified. The systematic use of sexual violence as a tactic of war is well-documented. Emergent narratives from the Middle East also highlight increasing risk and incidence of violence among displaced populations in refugee camps in countries bordering states affected by conflict. However, much less is known about the changing nature of violence and associated risks and lived experiences of women across a continuum of violence faced within the country and across national borders. Discussion on violence against women (VAW) in conflict settings is often stripped of an understanding of the changing political economy of the state and how it structures gender relations, before, during and after a conflict, creating particular risks of violence and shaping women’s experiences. Drawing on a review of grey and published literature and authors’ experiences, this paper examines this underexplored dimension of VAW in political conflicts, by identifying risk environments and lived realities of violence experienced by women in the Syrian conflict, a context that is itself poorly understood. We argue for multi-level analysis of women’s experiences of violence, taking into account the impact of the political economy of the wider region as shaping the lived realities of violence and women’s response, as well as their access to resources for resistance and recovery.

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