PM 25.11.20: Eisenhüttenstadt Lager – hotspot for sexual assaults

Last year during the international “day against violence against women” we were mourning about our sister Rita in Hohenleipisch and demanding justice in front of the authorities in Herzberg and Potsdam. This year women living in the receiving centre lager in Eisenhüttenstadt report to us: Eisenhüttenstadt Lager is not only a dangerous corona hotspot, but also a hotspot for sexual assaults and harassment against women particularly lesbians. Lesbian and trans feel discriminated and not protected from the authorities.

This is not only happening in Eisenhüttenstadt, but also in Wünsdorf and other lagers. M., a 21-year-old lesbian from Georgia narrates, what it means living in the so called “protection house” in Eisenhüttenstadt. She was harassed by other refugees, who knew she was a lesbian. Some wanted to beat her and wanted to force her to have sex with them while others insulted her. She got depressed and had to see a psychologist.  The officials and the security know of her risk, but only tell her to stay in her room, in order to keep safe. The so called “protection house” is not at all a safe place for vulnerable refugees, rather one of homemade crisis and her room a prison. Realizing this, M. requested to be transferred to Wünsdorf, hoping things could be different. In Wünsdorf she is facing the same problems. She is now looking for support to move out of the lager and meet LGBT community.

We, from Women in Exile and Friends, have for a long time been fighting for women and children to be removed from the lagers and to abolish all lagers. It is because we know and share what is happening inside these lagers. When a man assaults a woman, he is transferred to another lager where of course, he will continue assaulting others. Update reports on Rita`s murder, is that the suspect was moved to another lager. These continuous acts make us angry. Why is the system so silent about these assaults and letting women suffer these atrocities?

We demand protection for refugees and respect of our dignity, especially for the women, lesbian and children who are a vulnerable group when it comes to lager accommodation.

That is why on the 25.11 we are going to be loud and clear in front of the lager in Eisenhüttenstadt. To demand justice for Rita and to show that lagers are not a safe place for women and children.

On 25 November, the day against violence against women*, we also want to show solidarity with those who have been fled at Europe’s external borders. Women*, minors and people from the LGBTIQ* community are particularly vulnerable to violence. We therefore call for the immediate evacuation of all people from the overcrowded camps on the EU’s external border and for dignified accommodation in host countries and municipalities.

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