The contributor’s ability to research the current state of laws in Syria that impact the rights of women in terms of family planning and reproductive and maternal health care was limited by (1) a lack of tools to translate Syrian legal and technical documents from Arabic into English,1 and (2) the dynamic political situation in Syria that affected the availability of information generally. Because of these limitations, the posted information may be incomplete, but nonetheless is accurate as described in the text of each entry and based on the sources cited.
On February 26, 2012, the government of the Syrian Arab Republic (“Syria”) held a referendum for Syrian citizens to vote on a new constitution that, according to the Syrian Interior Ministry, received 89.4% approval from over 8 million voters.2 Reportedly boycotted by Syrian opposition groups as a “farce”3 and largely dismissed by the international community as meaningless due to the circumstances under which it was held,4 the referendum replaced the Syrian constitution that had been in effect since March 13, 1973. The 2012 version of the Syrian constitution includes provisions that, inter alia, guarantee “health services,” “protect mothers and infants,” and require the state to “remove the restrictions that prevent women’s development and participation in building the society.”
Due to the lack of English-translated Syrian documents, it was not possible to determine if Syrian laws, regulations, or other authoritative documents further define the general constitutional protections for “health services” and “women” to cover family planning and reproductive and maternal health care services or otherwise authorize those services and protections for women. Secondary sources suggest that in practice Syrian women have access to contraception and family planning services, limited rights to abortions, and free health care services for themselves and their infants, but these sources do not cite to the authoritative law.
In light of the political conditions in Syria under which the current constitution was approved and continued political unrest, it is possible that the country’s constitution and laws will undergo further change in the foreseeable future. Moreover, access to contraception and maternal health care services as described below may be compromised during this current time of conflict.
- 1. Sources consulted include, but are not limited to: Law Library of Congress, Syria, http://www.loc.gov/law/help/guide/nations/syria.php; the Ctr. for Reproductive Rights, http://reproductiverights.org/; World Health Org.: Women’s Health, http://www.who.int/topics/womens_health/en/; World Health Org., Regional Office for the E. Mediterranean, http://www.emro.who.int/ghd/; KARAMAH, Muslim Women Lawyers for Human Rights, http://www.karamah.org/; Int’l Ctr. for Research on Women,
- 2. Reuters, Syria Approves Constitution Amid Bloodshed, Feb. 27, 2012, http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/02/27/us-syria-idUSL5E8DB0BH20120227.
- 3. British Broadcasting Corp., Syria Votes on New Constitution Referendum Amid Unrest, Feb. 26, 2012, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-17168730. United States White House Press Secretary, Jay Carney, described the referendum as “laughable.” Id.
- 4. Agence France Press, UN Says Syria Constitutional Referendum Meaningless While Violence Continues, Feb. 27, 2012, available at http://news.nationalpost.com/2012/02/27/un-says-syria-constitutional-referendum-meaningless-while-violence-continues/.