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Women gather around a stove to take take part in a comic book activity
#16Days of Activism

What next? How a comic book helps refugee women stay safe

Photo: T. Breuer for the IRC

More than 1 million Syrians have fled to neighboring Lebanon since war began in Syria in 2011. These refugees lead a precarious existence—and women and girls, specifically, are at risk of violence and exploitation in daily life.

An illustration of the character Hala being stopped at a checkpoint by a guard
A guard confronts Hala in a scenario from the comic book. Women discuss what she should do to stay safe. Photo: IRC

That’s why the International Rescue Committee provides safe spaces for women in communities across Lebanon. Alongside counseling sessions and other services offered by these women's centers, the IRC has created a unique tool to help women navigate the challenges of life as a refugee and stay safe.

The tool is a comic book that tells the story of Hala, a Syrian refugee who tries to make ends meet by working in the fields. From the moment that Hala steps out of her door, she faces a number of risks and challenges, many of which the women visiting the center will also have faced.

With each challenge Hala meets, the women discuss the range of options she has. Will she give the guard at the checkpoint her phone number? Or will he ask for something more? Should she turn around and go home? Or should she take a longer route to work?

Through discussing Hala’s experience, the women are empowered to discuss their own experiences, in a safe and welcoming environment. These conversations also help them to make informed decisions in the future.

Decision points

Meet some of the women who have learned from Hala's story in discussion groups at the IRC's women's center in Bekaa Valley, Lebanon.

Explore the comic book

Below, click through an online version of the comic book to help Hala make choices to keep her safe from harm.