This session titled "Gender Based Violence in the MENA Region" is part of a series of five webinars organized by the Political Feminism and Gender Office at FES between the months of June-August 2022, which brought together guest speakers, feminist activists and experts from the region to reflect on and provide feminist recommendations and alternatives to the post-Covid era. The discussion was moderated by Nesrine Rebai, Gender Consultant in Tunisia, and included the three following panelists:
A sneak peek into the session: At the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, the challenges facing vulnerable groups, especially women and the queer community, in Sudan, Egypt and Tunisia became more critical. The pandemic and state instructed lockdowns have led to a severe rise of domestic abuse cases, making urgent action to address root causes and their present lived effects crucial. The biggest obstacles to protecting women and queers in the region are traditional laws that legitimize domestic violence and criminalize homosexuality, but also the lack of accurate data and safe reporting mechanisms that makes it difficult to access reliable information.
From the many recommendations for action presented by panelists, amending the penal codes and enforcing laws that would protect women and the queer community from violence and ensure gender equality struck the most. It was also suggested to establish shelters that would host women/queers suffering from any form of GBV as well as provide them with psycho-social support.
Finally, panelists recommended the development and installation of training programs on gender equality as a public policy issue, rather than leaving the issue at the individual level, and to mandate that all civil servants playing a role in responding to domestic and gender-based violence attend it.