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Violence Against Women Refugees

January 6, 2016
Plain English Version
SULAYMANIYAH, IRAQ - (Photo by Feriq Ferec/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

SULAYMANIYAH, IRAQ – (Photo by Feriq Ferec/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

In the Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, women have been treated differently than men. All gave women roles that most think are inferior to the roles of men.

But over the centuries, Jewish and Christian practices have changed. In the modern Western world, women are treated as equals. This is still not the case in the Islamic world. Women’s husbands and their families still control much of a woman’s life. As do customs and traditions.

In the brutal world of migrants and migration, women are subject to terrible ordeals. They report being raped and beaten in return for getting passage to Western countries.

Refugees are living in places without privacy. There are many fewer women than men. The men take advantage of their numbers and strength. As one woman said, “Everybody knows there are two ways of paying smugglers, with money or with your body.”

There are risks facing all migrants. The risks for women are greater at each step of the way. People caring for migrants in Germany report terrible events for women, including forced marriages, sex trafficking and domestic abuse.

Women report abuse by fellow refugees, smugglers and male family members. Even the police have abused them.

A woman told this story. Her husband ran out of money in Bulgaria. He offered her as payment to the smuggler. She was raped almost daily for three months to earn the money that was needed. Soon her husband was abusing her as well. A social worker said, “What her husband made her do ended up tainting his honor. She became the guilty party.”

Better housing and privacy would be big helps. Social services and counseling are crucial. In the long run, training for men and women is needed. Men will have to learn about the ways of the Western world. Some people want to change refugee policy. They want to only let women and children in. Others say it is not wise to separate families.

A German social worker said, “There is no black and white, good and evil. If we want to help the women, we need to help the men, too.”

Source: The New York Times January 2, 2016

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