Sophie McCann is a program director and advocate with experience in international development and human rights advocacy in the UK and internationally. She specializes in refugee and migrants’ rights and community-based mental health and gender programming. Sophie is part of the Lamp Lifeboat Ladder team focusing on organizational development and communications.
Ending violence against women
During conflict and instability, women are often victims of torture and other horrific forms of harm. They remain vulnerable to abuse in flight, in camps, and in urban refugee settings. They are often afraid to report sexual violence because of shame or fear of being ostracized by their families, which leaves them at even greater risk. Almost 1 in 3 women globally have been abused in their lifetime. Many of the women and girls in our project in Jordan and Greece have suffered sexual gender-based violence, which includes forced marriage, child marriage, sexual violence in conflict, domestic violence, collective rape and torture. Lamp Lifeboat Ladder's goal is to provide protection to women and girls by enabling them to resettle in Canada where they can heal and rebuild their lives.
Zahra is a member of Lamp Lifeboat Ladder’s Survivor’s Council, which is composed of survivors in our project, who define, guide and lead our unique program. She and her family have recently resettled in Canada. Zahra is a passionate women- and girls-rights advocate who worked to provide safety and defense of women and girls in her home country. She will continue her fight for women's rights in Canada. I asked her about sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) and how together we can stop it from happening. Zahra outlined her ideas below:
"SGBV is an irrational behavior that destroys families and that comes in many forms, including domestic, verbal and emotional, sexual and economic. There are several steps that we have to take to protect women and girls from all these types of violence.
"Firstly, we must ensure that all women have the chance to receive an education. All women and girls should be educated and should understand their rights and basic values as well as how to respond to violence directed at them. This will help them understand their potential and will also hopefully make them more immune to societal pressure when they are older.
"Second, the public should be educated - through public campaigns, seminars and other ways - about the vast and crucial role that women play in society and how capable they are. Despite what many think, a woman’s role is not limited to inside the house - she is the doctor that heals, the nurse that takes care of people, the teacher that brings up young students. If everyone is made aware of this and understands it, then hopefully the next generation will have a better understanding of the importance of women and girls and their far reaching role in society. Young people are key - they have fresh minds and so if they are taught when they are at school this learning will stay with them in their later life.
"Third, we should also issue strict laws against bullying, harassment and all other forms of SGBV.
"Lastly, there should also be courses taught about violence against women - spreading awareness about its many forms as well as how to prevent it."
Zahra believes women are the foundation of society and therefore the whole of society is based on them and how they are treated. Ultimately, she believes education is the key to ending violence against women.
Help us aid refugees who have survived torture and trauma to discover a new life by supporting their relocation to Canada.