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Excluded, Isolated, Deported – Refugee women destiny in Europe

CTXT invited us to their first Feminist Conference, which took place in Zaragoza (Spain) on 8th and 9th November.

We took part on the panel “The excluded ones”, for which we wrote the following text, now translated to spanish and published in CTXT magazine.

The politicians are changing the laws governing refugees at every possibility and make it more difficult for refugees and migrants to enter Europe. In every political discussion or voting, refugees and migrants take the main role. Most European politicians and leaders are blaming refugees for all the problems. Refugees are not the problems; it is there policies of exclusion, isolation and deportation.

Borders have been extended inside the African continent to prevent refugees from leaving their countries. The EU states are making all types of cooperation and treaties with African leaders; the worst of this cooperation is between Libya and the EU, where scores of refugees are being accommodated in inhuman conditions. The majority of who are being hunted, caught, enslaved and sold as slaves. This happens to those hunted on land and those being driven back from the sea by agencies working for the EU. This is a neo colonialism policy which is driven by greed in promises of military and aid from the EU. At the same time, they are trying to deport as many as possible of those who are already in Europe, even risking them to injury and death.

Women and children are the ones most affected by these policies, as we have seen and read in the reports from Libya. Women and children are not only being auctioned as slaves but being raped, physically and sexually violated. Reports from women talking about their ordeals, makes one wonder, why the international community looks away when human rights are abused, until there is a public outcry.

Meanwhile European leaders are in a mission to African countries to discuss on how to make a fortress Europe. This of course will result in more deaths because refugees and migrants will find more dangerous routes. Then we start seeing the same leaders pretending that, they not only sympathize with the situation, but are ready to move mountains to contain the situation. This, they will of course do if it is to their advantage. These are just tactics to make them look good and human, but we should not forget that they start these acts, manipulate them and the curtain closes when they are ready.
On our dangerous routes to Europe, as women we are faced not only with the frontiers between countries but also with sexism and racism, which exposes us to all types of prejudice, during and after our flight. Even after thinking we have overcome some of these borders; the reality of requesting for asylum in the European states is met with hostility from the politicians and some groups from the society. Some refugee women and their children find themselves sleeping on the streets being exposed to all types of dangers.
Furthermore we are immediately threatened with deportations because some of us don’t fit into the migration concept of “legitimate refugee“. The authorities ignore social and economical reasons of flight which affect many refugees and migrants who come to Europe. Reasons such as climate and economic crisis, gender issues, grassroots political activism are not acknowledged by the European policy makers. In our experience, every woman seeking asylum in Europe has a so called “legitimate reason”. The double discrimination of refugee Women makes life more difficult for us and results in depressions, stress, trauma and sometimes desperate measure including suicides.
In Germany refugee women – asylum seekers and so called “Geduldete” ( “tolerated”) women and their children live for years in the collective accomodations where
-Violence and attacks occur frequently.
-The asylum seeking women are confronted by racist as well as sexist suppression.
-In additional these intolerable living conditions result in sickness of women and children.
-Employees of the collective accomodations disregard our privacy as they enter our private rooms during our absence or with a general key. We consider the disregard of our limited privacy in the collective accomodations as attacks. The extreme case we find in the so called “Anker- centers” the newly accommodation camps introduced in German which have no locks on the doors at all. They stay open day and night and refugee women don’t sleep because of fear.
– We feel discriminated and cut off from the society. The decision to put refugee women into isolated collective accomodations makes us to an object of stereotype dedication.
-We are confronted by the fact that men are convinced that refugee women in these isolated residential places are women for their use and will be discriminated and abused by their disrespectful offers.
-There is no possibility to learn German. And many cannot find a job or at least some get work that nobody else wants to perform or the 1€ jobs which are offered in the collective accomodations. Jobs which in normal circumstances deserve to be at least paid for an hours minimum wage.
– For those who are perceived as not “cooperating” to ensure their deportation are forced to purchase with vouchers, this means one cannot decide freely what and where to shop.
-When one is sick, one have to tell the Social authorities that they need medical treatment and why.
-Police brutality when enforcing deportations.
– Racial profiling on the streets and inside and outside train stations are a daily occurrence.
This and many more are daily encounters of refugee women living in Germany. It is a pity that laws which are protecting European women from crimes, such as sexual assaults, systematic violence and gender specific issues, are not applied to refugee women. That is why in our daily fights we demand to be considered as women living in this society. Women rights should not discriminate any group of women. Refugee women should feel safe to build a new life in this society.

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