Press Release: "We Just Keep Silent": A report on gender-based violence among Syrian refugees in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq


Erbil, Iraq — UN Women has launched a new report on gender-based violence among Syrian refugees in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq which reveals increased levels of intimate partner violence, high levels of sexual harassment by employers and taxi drivers, and a significant number of reports of sexual commercial transactions inside and outside camps. Almost all men also reported feeling afraid for the safety of their wives and daughters.

“ ‘We Just Keep Silent’ is what Syrian women do after they have been violently attacked or harassed or pushed to do some sexually-related act against their will,” disclosed UN Women Representative Frances Guy at the launch ceremony. “They complain that often there is no one to speak to, no one who can take action,” she said, underlining that “low numbers of reported cases of gender-based violence do not mean that the issue is not significant.”   

Thanking the Kurdistan Regional Government for its strong commitment to improve the welfare of Syrian refugees throughout the Region, as well as all international and national NGOs for their hard work in supporting Syrian refugees, Ms. Guy called, on behalf of UN Women, for yet more to be done to prevent Syrian women and girls from being exploited, and to create livelihood opportunities inside and outside the camps.

She also stressed that more needs to be done to ensure that those who are committing violence against women are held accountable for their acts. “Let us be clear, exploiting vulnerable women and girls for sexual purposes is a crime and should be addressed as such,” she concluded. 

Background: The report is based on a survey of men and women living inside and outside the camps, carried out between August and December 2013. There have been many positive developments since the beginning of the survey. Health care has been extended into the camps and the regional government is now actively working with the United Nations to provide more durable shelter in many camps.

UN Women acknowledges the tremendous support given by the Kurdistan Regional Government in helping Syrian refugees, and allowing them access to public services, as well as the support given by UN agencies including UNHCR, UNFPA, WHO, UNICEF and by a wide range of international and national NGOs.

Download the report in: English ; Kurdish 

For a version of this press release in Arabic: نلتزم الصمت فحسب": تقرير عن العنف القائم على النوع الاجتماعي بين اللاجئين السوريين في إقليم كردستان العراق

For more information, please contact:
Frances Guy, Representative, UN Women Iraq
Mobile 00964 7901929401,