Woman and war: the Syrian part of an International campaign
Syria, Culture, 4/25/2001
n co-operation with the Faculty of law at the University of Aleppo, the International Committee of the Red Cross ICRC, Damascus office a seminar will be organized under the title "Women and war: the Syrian part of an International Campaign " on May 10th.
In a statement to Arabic News, Information and dissemination officer at the ICRC Mrs. Tamara al-Refai said that over the past two years, the ICRC has carried out a study aimed at improving its understanding of the specific impact that armed conflicts have on women. She added that the study is intended to motivate all those involved in conflicts situations- whether directly or indirectly- to seek ways of preventing and, when necessary, alleviating the suffering of women in war.
She continued that during this campaign Professor Badria al-Awadi from the University of Kuwait will present a lecture under the title " The Protection of women in international Humanitarian law," noting that professors of International Law at the University of Aleppo will comment on al-Awadi presentation.
Al-Rafai added that in addition to seminars, studies will be debated on the 560 articles of the Geneva conventions of 1949 and their Additional protocols of 1977, articles that protect both women and men as citizens, or combatants fallen into the enemy's hand. Some 40 of these articles are of specific concern to women, she noted.
She indicated that one efficient way of reaching a large crowd is to deliver the humanitarian message through various Syrian artists, namely painters and sculptors.
She explained that the original idea is to start the campaign (women and War) within an annual Women art festival taking place in Aleppo every May ( this year from 1 to 12 May).
She added that as a main partner in this event, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent and the ICRC campaign in Syria for the year 2001 aims at raising awareness on how specific rules of International Humanitarian Law, if observed, significantly reduce the suffering of women during armed conflicts.
Widowed, displaced, humiliated, raped, women are often forgotten when victims of wars are enumerated: one automatically thinks of soldiers as first row victims of armed conflicts.
She said that the 12-day festival will include various artistic and cultural as well as literary activities all centered around the theme of women.
She made it clear that thousands of women all over the world suffer from the traumas of war- raped, widowed, displaced, detained, separated from loved ones, victims of violence and injury. Recent and present conflicts show that women are targeted precisely because they are women. They are raped in order to humiliate, frighten and defeat the enemy group to which they belong. As the gender concern developed in the recent years, the issue of women and their vulnerability to abuses in times of conflicts became evident, namely during the Balkans war.
She said that the International Humanitarian Law provides extensive protection for women in war, whether civilians or captured combatants. This protection enshrined in the four Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their two Additional Protocols of 1977 and in a number of other instruments. Women are afforded both general protection-i.e on the same basis as men- and special protection reflecting their particular needs as women. If rules were better observed, the suffering of women in war would be reduced, she commented.
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