New Report Highlights Position of Women Refugees in Lebanon

March 5, 2014


Women and girls are known to be uniquely and disproportionately affected by warfare, making up 80% of all refugees and displaced persons. However, a needs assessment carried out by researchers from Yale University at the request of the UN Population Fund  (UNPF) has now thrown light on the plight of pregnant women and mothers who find themselves in such situations.

In a sample of Syrian women who have fled to Lebanon, researchers found that an inability to access the basic reproductive healthcare they need led to severe stress and subsequent health problems – including a high rate of pre-term births and complications.

Women also told of how their circumstance has resulted in increasing domestic violence, with husbands taking out their stress on their wives; and how this violence is often further transmitted from mother to child.

“Anger has spread … If a child moves, we slap them on their face due to our decreased tolerance level. Then, we think, regret what we have done, and ask ourselves ‘why did we hit them?’.”

Violence was not limited to domestic either. Researchers found that almost a third of those women interviewed were directly exposed to violence during the Syrian conflict, with the attacker being armed in almost every case. Fourteen of the women had also been subjected to sexual violence in Syria by an armed person. But the paper suggests the number could be even higher, owing to stigma, shame and fear. Over a quarter of all those who experienced any sort of violence suffered physical injury and 67.7% suffered psychological difficulties. These women often reported gynaecological problems, including severe pelvic pain and menstrual irregularity among those who were not pregnant.

Given that half of the women have never spoken about their experiences, with most of those exposed to violence not seeking medical care afterwards, the report shows a greater need for reproductive and health services amongst refugee women living in the Middle East.


READ the full report here.


Maeve Montague



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