The constant unrest and fighting in the Arab nations has been a source of turmoil throughout the world for the past two years. The news coverage we see daily in this country involves the uprising in the Middle East and the attacks on United States’ embassies. What we do not hear about or consider are the lives of individuals in those countries who do not have the ability to speak for themselves. I am specifically speaking about women and how these conflicts are affecting women’s lives by oppressing their basic human rights. The Middle East has never been a region known to be accepting of women. In fact, Egypt’s criminal code states that if a husband beats his wife with “good intentions” then no disciplinary actions can be taken. The conflicts around the area have made the situation much worse for women than ever before. The current civil war in Syria has caused major problems for women in that nation. One tactic that the Syrian government is currently using against its own citizens is one of sexual violence and rape. Women Under Siege, an independent initiative that documents forms of sexual violence used as weapons in wars, has reported that the sexual violence against women by governmental forces is at an all time high and women are currently suffering beyond belief. The initiative has also collected data that suggests 61 percent of rapes, cases of sexual violence, and genital mutilations in Syria are committed by government perpetrators. That means that the government is facilitating sexual violence against its own citizens.
In the current climate of the world, where steps are being taken to further the position and status of women, I cannot help but be disappointed in the global communities’ response to the conflict in Syria. There needs to be more of an interest taken in the violence against not only women in Syria but also all innocent citizens who are forced to live in fear of torture. The United Nations drafted the “Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women,” which is an international human rights document that requires countries in agreement with the Convention to take all steps possible to end violence against women. Syria and many other countries in the Middle East signed this form. What we must ask is why there is nothing being done to punish the Syrian government for their actions that are direct violations of not only this Convention but also the Universal Doctrine of Human Rights. I am not in any way discounting the progress other countries are making in regards to the status of women. I do think it is time for countries to start realizing that they cannot progress if there are still countries in the dark ages in regards to the rights and protections afforded to women. Raping women and girls as a systematic tactic of war is not a new phenomenon, but it is one that needs to be stopped. All countries, including the United States, must come to the full understanding that sexually abusing and raping women and girls is unacceptable under any circumstances.