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Survey: Syrian Women Reflect on Digital Violence

SalamaTech surveyed Syrian women for their views and experiences with online gender-based violence. Here’s what they shared.

With SalamaTech‘s support, at-risk women in Syria are learning to protect themselves from digital harms, including gender-based violence (GBV). Through awareness campaigns and training, the team is sharing digital-safety knowledge, tools and best practices for staying safe. They are increasingly developing content expressly for women and girls. Recently, they launched an emergency response desk for women only.

Last August, the team ran a survey on online GBV, through a Facebook group for Syrian women focussed on digital safety. The survey was designed to guide the team’s efforts to support more women—including in hard-to-reach northern areas—and to contribute to a wider understanding of online GBV. Fifty-eight women provided comprehensive responses.

The results validate that demand is growing for support services, including psychosocial support. The team was also struck by the extent of concern among women that digital harm will lead to offline physical harm. This kind of fear can discourage many women from asserting their voices in public online spaces.

Survey highlights

WHAT digital harms respondents see most often:

  • Blackmail using personal photos (90% flagged this)
  • Male threats of violence (74%)
  • Account hacking, for theft or impersonation (67%)

WHO they see being targeted most often:

  • Girls aged 13-18 (81% flagged this)
  • Widows (69%)
  • University students (66%)

WHERE they see it happening most:

  • Facebook (81% flagged this)
  • WhatsApp (74%)
  • Messenger (55%)
  • TikTok (40%)
  • Instagram (40%)
  • YouTube (29%)
  • X/Twitter (28%)

HOW they are experiencing this:

  • 64% say digital harms impair their personal lives.
  • 77% fear online abuses will lead to physical harm.

What about getting help?

  • Most respondents were not aware of support services in their own community for female victims of online violence.
  • Local resources they most want to see: psychosocial support, legal support and digital-safety training.

SalamaTech logoAbout SalamaTech

With Foundation support, this self-organizing team of tech-savvy community workers promotes digital safety across the Syrian region. Since 2012, they’ve been supporting at-risk people and civil society organizations through training, technical support, emergency response, audits and public awareness campaigns. They also refer victims of digital violence to local psychosocial, legal and other support services. Learn more about SalamaTech.