Target: Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, et al.
Goal: End the epidemic of sexual harassment and assault within Syrian refugee camps with basic safeguards like gender segregated bathrooms.
Many refugee women and girls face the additional danger of sexual harassment and assault in refugee camps where they’re supposed to be kept safe. Stories of being groped, leered at, and watched while going to the bathroom abound among Syrian women and girls who have been forced to flee their homes. Something needs to be done to make these camps a safe place for everyone, not just men.
A big part of the problem is that men and women in these camps are forced to share bathrooms and even showers. This creates an unsafe environment so bad that refugee women have reported starving themselves so that they can avoid the harassment they fear when using these shared bathrooms. They’re also vulnerable in their shared sleeping areas. Some women have resorted to sleep on beaches or buses to avoid harassment.
There have also been reports of women being propositioned and harassed by camp security and local law enforcement officers. Something needs to be done to end this entirely preventable problem. Refugee women have already risked and lost everything to reach a place where they’re supposed to feel safe. Unfortunately, many of them don’t feel safe at all. Sign our petition to demand that the nations responsible for these camps work to address these issues.
Dear Prime Ministers Davutoğlu, Tsipras, et al.,
Syrian refugee women have been reporting many instances of sexual harassment and assault within your refugee camps. These camps are supposed to be safe havens for people who have lost everything to flee incredibly unsafe situations. However, for the women, they’ve just gone from one dangerous place to another.
These women have reported being watched by men while going to the bathroom because the bathrooms are not segregated by gender. As a result, some have said that they’ve starved themselves to avoid this unnerving harassment. Others are talking about sleeping on the beach or on buses to avoid the kind of violence they’ve witnessed in the mixed-gender sleeping areas.
It would not be very difficult to create and enforce gendered bathrooms and sleeping areas so that refugee women can feel relatively safe. There also needs to be increased security and oversight of your own camp security guards as women have reported being harassed and propositioned by these guards as well as local law enforcement and smugglers. We demand that you immediately address the needs of these continuously suffering women.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: DFID – UK Department for International Development