Thirty-three activists from Morocco, Egypt, Jordan, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and Somalia convened in Rabat, Morocco, in December 2008 for a groundbreaking Regional Workshop on the Terminology of Violence Against Women.
While some women used the term “victim” when referring to women who had experienced some form of abuse, others preferred “survivors of violence.” Some participants also criticized using the name “shelter” and suggested “protection” or “safe houses.”
This meeting stemmed from a major need that arose in September 2007 at Karama’s Regional Workshop on Best Practices in Shelters and Services for Abused Women, to discuss and resolve the activists’ use of different terminologies in Arabic and differing frameworks about violence against women. The debate delved into the manner of providing services, with some who view the primary mission as support for the women in crisis, others advocate reconciliation with the family, while others view the work as providing psychological support and programs all the way through rehabilitation and recovery of the women affected.
The Regional Workshop on VAW Terminology was held in Rabat, Morocco, where there has been a lively debate on these issues for some time; Karama was thus able to invite seasoned thinkers and experts to act as resource persons during the session. The work session was held for two days, addressing terms such as “proof of innocence/ virginity check up” and re-stating it as “medical check.”
At the meeting’s conclusion, the participants agreed they would seek to:
- Create a special glossary for the terms and concepts related to violence against women that can be used regionally
- Prepare a training guide for the services and approaches to be followed by the institutions
- Organize a regional workshop on trafficking and sheltering houses