Activists in the Middle East are working to combat domestic violence in their communities. Read their inspiring stories and start your own group to combat gender-based violence where you live:
Lebanon’s Ghida Anani founded the ABAAD Resource Center for Gender Equality in 2011 to support development in the Middle East and North Africa “through equality, protection and empowerment of marginalized groups, especially women.” An alumna of the State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program, Anani played a role in drafting Lebanon’s domestic violence law. Along with its advocacy work, ABAAD runs shelters for victims of violence in Lebanon.
Salaime Egbariya took a stand in her community of Lod, Israel, because of her disapproval of men killing Arab women and girls in so-called “honor killings.” A social worker by training, Egbariya founded Arab Women in the Center, a nongovernmental organization that challenges preconceived notions of gender roles. The organization trains women to advocate for their rights if there is violence at home and runs programs at schools to raise awareness of domestic violence issues.
Public prosecutor Nedal Awadeh ensures that perpetrators of honor killings and domestic violence in the Palestinian Territories pay for their crimes. Awadeh, who holds a law degree from Birzeit University, knows that different stakeholders working together can combat gender-based violence. He cooperates with the Bethlehem-based Mehwar Center for the Protection and Empowerment of Palestinian Women and Families.
Jordan’s Enaam Asha learned about gender-based violence when, at the age of 14, she was forced to wed her cousin. Asha later divorced and earned a law degree in Beirut. Today, she fights for the rights of vulnerable women and children. Working with international groups, Asha participates in programs that educate Syrian and Iraqi refugees on gender-based violence issues.
Lawyer Hadeel Abd-al-Aziz, another alumna of the State Department International Visitor Leadership Program, is director of the Justice Center for Legal Aid in Amman, Jordan. The center provides pro-bono legal aid to victims of domestic violence and runs a legal aid center for an underserved community in Amman. Abd-al-Aziz said the center provides short-term housing for victims of violence should the need arise.
Worldwide, one-in-three women is subject to violence or abuse. The United Nations recently called on people everywhere to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on November 25 and to take part in an accompanying 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence.
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