I met Heba (not her real name) and a few other Syrian refugee women in Mafraq, Jordan, in January 2015. They were supposed to be in the Zaatari refugee camp six miles to the east but had escaped.

“We thought it would at least have roads,” Heba said about Zaatari. She instead found a dusty plain with temporary buildings made of metal or plastic that couldn’t stop the blowing sand. Heba had left behind an urban, middle-class lifestyle in Damascus; Heba’s husband was a lawyer. She spoke...

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