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Since 2011, the civil war and protracted crisis in Syria have led to widespread displacement, with over five million people seeking refuge in neighboring countries and in the Eastern Mediterranean and Western Balkans region. During displacement, women and girls are at risk of gender-based violence. While there is focus on addressing sexual violence in humanitarian contexts, there is less attention directed at addressing and preventing intimate partner violence in these settings. There are also limited studies on how displacement impacts the risk of intimate partner violence and further innovation is needed.

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Two of our focus group facilitators speak with participants. (Photo: Judit de Diego)

Supported by the World Bank Group and the Sexual Violence Research Initiative Development Marketplace for Innovation in Prevention of Gender-based ViolenceWomen and Health Alliance (WAHA) International, in collaboration with its academic partners, conducted formative research to inform the development of an intervention to prevent intimate partner violence among Syrian refugees. Our research aimed to understand the social context, the gender dynamics and hierarchies, and the tolerance of violence, among other potential contributing factors to intimate partner violence.

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Adolescent girls colourfully express their thoughts on safety in their host community. (Photo: Sirine Rejab)

In 2017, we conducted in-depth interviews, focus group discussions, and participatory learning and action activities among Syrian women and men, aged 15 years and older in numerous sites in Greece. Through the discussions and interviews, we explored topics their experiences related to displacement and their experiences in the host country. The participatory learning activities included an open-ended story, free-listing exercise, and community mapping.  These research activities helped to gain an understanding of the cultural perceptions towards safety and tolerance of violence. The discussions highlighted the complexities of individuals’ situations and the different impacts of displacement, as well as the intersection with converging social norms, attitudes toward violence and behaviours, in and outside of the home.

Innovation comes in many forms, and by letting the voices of our beneficiaries, communities, and populations speak, we may find solutions to prevent intimate partner violence. Keep your eyes out for upcoming publications based on the findings of this research.

For more information, please follow: WAHA International (@WAHAint), SVRI (@TheSVRI), and WBG Development Marketplace Awards (@WBG_Gender)

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SVRI World Bank Group Development Marketplace #16Days 2017 Blog Series

Written by the Gender-Based Violence (GBV) research group at WAHA International

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