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The Gender-Based Violence: It is Everyone’s Responsibility

Tameem is the Gender-Based Violence (GBV) team leader at DRC’s office in Kilis, Turkiye. He grew up in a conservative community in Syria, but his father, a well-educated teacher, insisted on treating his sons and daughters equally and teaching them that there were no differences between men and women. He had the biggest influence on Tameem who was moved by how some women in his area were subject to discrimination and violence. He wanted to do something about it but did not know how. Eventually, the war in Syria prevented him from pursuing his studies in Economics and pushed him into moving to Türkiye, which was a life-changing decision for him.

In the first period of his new life, music was his companion. He had previously studied music and loved his guitar. He started to work as a music facilitator at different NGOs. In those sessions, he started noticing women and children who might be subject to GBV and informed his specialized colleagues about them. “In Syria, there were no NGOs that helped those women,” Tameem said. “Working with NGOs gave me the chance to help other women who were at the risk of violence.” Once he started working for DRC, the Protection manager noticed his gift and passion and advised him to work closely with GBV cases.

In responding to GBV cases of the DRC’s which is funded by the European Union through its Humanitarian Aid Operations, the protection teams provide specialized case management, legal assistance, and psychosocial support. The team also holds sessions to raise communities’ awareness of GBV and gender issues. Additionally, DRC’s approach aims to build the long-term resilience of survivors by linking its Protection intervention with livelihoods programs, designed to improve their independent income generation capacities. Our livelihood activities include support for home-based businesses, wage employment as well as shorter-term cash-for-work schemes in support of local municipalities. Tameem was excited about the new role, but it was not easy. Many people would be sceptical of choosing a male staff member to oversee sensitive GBV cases, but he has stepped up to the task.

The beginning was not easy because most female clients were subjected to violence by men and felt a bit hesitant to talk to me. The priority for me was to make them feel safe, so I gave them options and respected their space and most of them eventually trusted me.

/  Tameem Kudro, GBV team leader in Kilis, Türkiye

Soon enough, Tameem’s clients were referring others in their communities to DRC’s services. Such was their satisfaction with his empathetic approach and professionalism.

No excuse for violence

But that was not the end of his challenges. In 2018, he held an awareness-raising session for men. Surprisingly, he was verbally attacked because he talked about child marriage and domestic violence which some attendees accepted as permissible. Still, the session had an impact. Many men approached Tameem afterwards to express their regret on practicing violence against their wives, daughters and sisters. Tameem provided them with suggestions such as psychotherapy and counseling.

“I think I made an influence on them because I was a male myself,” he said. “If a female had held the session, they may not have taken her seriously.”

Tameem believes that not only individual men and women from communities and NGOs should contribute to ending GBV, but also public institutions and the private sector. Governments can enact and enforce laws that protect women who are exposed to violence, while companies can prioritize hiring women and offering a safe workplace for them, contributing to a wider sense of resilience and safety.  

There is no excuse for violence against women and girls. Anything can be resolved through communication, which makes us human. The annual campaign is a good reminder for us that there is a lot still to be done, and I hope that in the future would not need it anymore.

/  Tameem Kudro, GBV team leader in Kilis, Türkiye


*GBV individual protection and awareness raising sessions are funded by the European Union through its Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO).

*Integrated protection and livelihoods project is funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC)

*Home-based business and Cash for Work are funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) through the German Development Bank (KFW)