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Gender-Based Violence Sub-Working Group (GBV SWG): In Response to Syrian Crisis, Humanitarian Setting Gaziantep, Turkey

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I. Background/Justification

During conflicts and natural disasters, civilians are at significant risk of harm through violence, abuse or deliberate deprivation. Much of violence is hidden and goes underreported, particularly domestic violence or intimate partner violence, and GBV survivors may fear the repercussions of reporting incidents, such as forms of stigmatization that could jeopardize their future. Under-reporting of GBV makes it difficult, if not impossible, to obtain an accurate measurement of the magnitude of the problem. In emergency situations, often characterized by instability, insecurity, fear, dependence, loss of autonomy, the breakdown of law and order, and widespread disruption of community and family support systems, women may be even less likely to disclose incidents of GBV. Until there are services in place that GBV survivors can safely access there is little reason for them to put themselves at risk by disclosing their experience of GBV.

As of 18 May 2015, 259.788 Syrians reside in 25 camps in 10 cities and as of 4 May 2015, there are 1.759.846 registered Syrians in total in Turkey. Although Turkey has a system to respond gender-based violence (GBV) cases, it’s overloaded with the high number of Syrian population in the country. There is an increasing need for a sensitive, highly coordinated and systematic approach to handle GBV cases within the Turkey context. Therefore strong interagency coordination is needed to achieve the required multi-sectoral approach for an effective humanitarian response to GBV. UN agencies have been supportive with the government institutions on combating GBV and this support is planned to continue with the activities of GBV Sub-Group.

Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, also known as the Istanbul Convention that is one of the legally binding instrument for Turkey as one of the signatory countries, provides specific guidance for migration and asylum, integrating policies against multiple sectors and promoting international cooperation as written below:

Article 60. “1. Parties shall take the necessary legislative or other measures to ensure that gender based violence against women may be recognized as a form of persecution within the meaning of Article 1, A (2), of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and as a form of serious harm giving rise to complementary/subsidiary protection.

  1. Parties shall ensure that a gender-sensitive interpretation is given to each of the Convention grounds and that where it is established that the persecution feared is for one or more of these grounds, applicants shall be granted refugee status according to the applicable relevant instruments.

  2. Parties shall take the necessary legislative or other measures to develop gender sensitive reception procedures and support services for asylum-seekers as well as gender guidelines and gender-sensitive asylum procedures, including refugee status determination and application for international protection.”

In order to respond the need in this area, as one of the standards mentioned in many international guidelines such as IASC, IAWG, and MISP, planning and coordination is aimed with the establishment of the GBV Sub-Group.