Syrian women forced to trade aid workers sexual favors for food
“Examples were given of women or girls marrying officials for a short period of time for ‘sexual services’ in order to receive meals," the report said.
After surviving war, death, and destruction Syrian women are being forced to trade their bodies for food as a recent report from the United Nations stated.
UN aid workers are guilty of sexually harassing and abusing Syrian women and forcing them to deliver sexual favors in return for aid supplies, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) said.
“Examples were given of women or girls marrying officials for a short period of time for ‘sexual services’ in order to receive meals; distributors asking for telephone numbers of women and girls; giving them lifts to their houses ‘to take something in return’ or obtaining distributions ‘in exchange for a visit to her home’ or ‘in exchange for services, such as spending a night with them,’” the report said.
According to the recent report which analyzed gender-based violence in the region, more vulnerable targets such as girls and widows or female IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons), those left without male “protectors”.
Danielle Spencer, a humanitarian charity adviser and the author of a 2015 investigation into sexual violence in Jordanian refugee camps told the BBC that aid workers wilfully ignore gender-based violence.
"I remember one woman crying in the room and she was very upset about what she had experienced. Women and girls need to be protected when they are trying to receive food and soap and basic items to live. The last thing you need is a man who you're supposed to trust and supposed to be receiving aid from, then asking you to have sex with him and withholding aid from you," Spencer told the BBC.
According to one aid worker who spoke with the BBC, many women eventually refused to go to aid distribution centers to avoid being judged from community members.
UN officials have acknowledged that there is a high risk of sexual abuse in crisis zones and UN Human Rights Commissioner Andrej Mahecic called the act of preying on war victims “despicable”.
However, this is hardly the first allegation of sexual abuse to be brought to the UN's attention. A research project conducted by former British politician David Miliband and the International Rescue Committee (IRC) in 2015, interviewed 190 women and girls from Daraá and Quneitra. Forty percent were victims of sexual violence while receiving aid.
Earlier this month one of the UN's own former senior officials reported that an estimated 60,000 rapes were committed by international aid workers over the last ten years.
"The U.N. and the system as it currently stands have chosen for women's bodies to be sacrificed," Spencer said. "Somewhere there has been a decision made that it is okay for women's bodies to continue to be used, abused, violated in order for aid to be delivered for a larger group of people."