Systemic Violence Against Syrian Refugee Women

theAproject's first peer reviewed publication critiquing the multi-layered obstacles to sexual and reproductive health (SRH) of Syrian women in Lebanon
Published by Reproductive Health Matters
Volume 24, Issue 47 (May 2016)
Issue theme // Violence: a barrier to sexual and reproductive health and rights \\

Systemic violence against Syrian refugee women and the myth of effective intrapersonal interventions


Since the uprising in Syria in March 2011, over 4.3 million Syrians have fled to neighboring countries. Over a million have sought refuge in Lebanon, constituting almost a quarter of the Lebanese population and becoming the largest refugee population per capita in the world.

With inequitable health coverage being a longstanding problem in Lebanon, Syrian refugee women’s health, and specifically their sexual and reproductive health, is disproportionately affected. An increase in gender-based violence and early marriage, a lack of access to emergency obstetric care, limited access to contraception, forced cesarean sections, and high cost of healthcare services, all contribute to poor sexual and reproductive health.

In this commentary, we conceptualize violence against Syrian refugee women using the ecological model, exploring the intersections of discrimination based on ethnicity, gender, and socioeconomic status, while critiquing interventions that focus solely on the intrapersonal level and ignore the role of microsystemic, exosystemic, and macrosystemic factors of negative influence. These social determinants of health supersede the individual realm of health behavior, and hinder women in taking decisions about their sexual and reproductive health.

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