Portrayals of Displaced Syrian and Iraqi Women in Germany


Portrayals of Displaced Syrian and Iraqi Women in Germany


Research Question

Female refugees, internally displaced persons (IDPs), and asylum seekers are especially vulnerable populations because of the specific challenges they face, primarily in the form of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV).Nevertheless, in the current Syrian refugee crisis, the portrayal of Syrian women and girls as a whole as being victims of SGBV is problematic. The dominating narrative in the popular Western media depicts them as powerless victims of SGBV. Recognizing that this narrative tends to involve discourses of power and inequality, this research investigates the consequences of aid-providing agencies’ portrayals of displaced Syrian women to potential donors and examines what role, if any, Syrian women play in the construction of these representations, as well as to what extent the portrayal of displaced women impacts the perceptions of aid-workers about displaced women.


Center for Global Studies International Internship/Fieldwork Grant


When the very agencies that strive to help vulnerable populations such as displaced women and girls cede to marginalizing discourse, they effectively hurt the very people they seek to help.

Methods Used

This research will involve a critical discourse analysis on the portrayals of Syrian women by various aid-providing organizations to potential donors. In addition, fieldwork in Berlin will consist of participant observation with one or more aid-providing agencies and semi-structured interviews with refugees and with staff and volunteers of aid-providing agencies.


This research suggests policies to avoid such representational errors and to incorporate better the voices of displaced women and girls in their representations. In doing so, it may lead to discourse and policy changes among some aid-providing agencies that represent displaced women and girls, which may, in turn, lead to solutions of some of the problems they face.

Publication Date



International and Area Studies

Portrayals of Displaced Syrian and Iraqi Women in Germany


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