During one of the tense days in Deir Ezzor, a civil society organization in the western countryside of Deir Ezzor had to end a dialogue session at its headquarter after a conflict broke out between two local families in the area after killing one person. The family of the victim raided and burned properties and homes belonging to the perpetrator’s family which has brought fear to the area. During the first few days, the conflict led to the displacement of more than 25 families, including women and children.
Revenge incidents constantly repeat from time to time in Deir Ezzor, where tensions last several days until mediators intervene and de-escalate, which usually includes the departure of the perpetrator’s family from the area.
There are many causes of armed conflicts that lead to killing of people and trigger desires for revenge. The concept of taking revenge requires the blood guardians (the relatives of the victim) to kill the perpetrator or one of his relatives, whom usually have nothing to do with the murder, but they are related to the perpetrator, as a form of Revenge. This is thought to be an obligatory action by which the dignity of the victim’s family should be preserved. Those who manage to take their revenge usually feel proud without any regrets or doubts about the great consequences of revenge.
Despite all previous and current attempts by local authorities or social influencers to contain this phenomenon from security and legal standpoints, these attempts have not been successful either to reduce revenge cases or to change the attitudes that encourage revengeful approach. Revenge incidents result in dozens of victims usually, which complicates the efforts for resolution. This does not mean the local efforts are ineffective, especially the efforts of social influencers and notables to reduce the number of victims and to de-escalate violence by following customary rules to accomplish peace. However, these efforts lack enough ability to draw an end to the revenge phenomenon. A research paper by JFL, soon to be published, has concluded that the most prominent complex conflicts that lead to victims are, for example, inheritance disputes, kidnapping, murder, and honor killings.
Some victims’ families could accept to amnesty the perpetrator’s family after they take certain traditionally known steps, such as leaving the area for a period of time and paying a sum of money. The departure of the perpetrator’s family is considered one of the key steps to de-escalate and to reduce chances of more victims, especially during the first hours and days after the incident when the victim’s relatives are amid their anger. However, this mass expulsion of the perpetrator’s family could extend to dozens of families which could impact on their security, economic, social, and psychological conditions.
Women departing along with their families due to revenge incidents are the most affected group. JFL spoke to eight women belonging to families threatened with revenge, currently residing in the countryside of Deir Ezzor. Six of these women talked about incidents in Deir Ezzor, one woman mentioned an incident in Al-Hasakah countryside, and one incident in Al-Raqqa countryside. The women mentioned details of material damage they had suffered and the social and psychological harm. Some host communities refuse to deal with them because they belong to a family that was involved in a murder. This social stigma negatively impacts their mobility and employability either for them or for the rest of the male family members. From a psychological point of view, some women mentioned a huge behavioral change in children and spouses. Husbands became more nervous while children became isolated, and they constantly tend to cry because they hear hurtful words in the street or in school. Including where the relationship declines and becomes within narrow limits sometimes. One of the women said that some perpetrators do not accept solutions and do not comply with customary rules. They rely on tribal support, especially if the other conflicted side does not have the same support.
Read More: The Impact of Revenge on Women