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PR: International Women’s Day: Against the Racist and Sexual Violence of the Lager-system in times of Pandemic

The Covid 19 pandemic is being felt throughout society. On the one hand, it’s easy to generalize: it’s a virus we all have to deal with. On the other hand, we have to be realistic: Living in isolation, with no prospect of residency, hoping the police don’t come to enforce deportation, is not only stressful and traumatizing, it compounds the stress of the pandemic. Elizabeth Ngari, co-founder of Women in Exile & Friends, says, “We are not only targeted by the virus, but also by everyday sexism and racism, migration policies and police controls. For example, it is obvious structural racism when in the former deportation detention center in Eisenhüttenstadt only “people of non-German origin” were detained for violating quarantine measures” (the MAZ reported on 10.2.2021).

Elizabeth Ngari: “The way the pandemic is being handled is exacerbating our structural and social exclusion in this society.” For many, it’s easy to work from home, attend online meetings, discuss their problems and try to find solutions. A year of social distancing, online meetings, and wearing masks has shown us all the importance of participation and social contact. But in the isolated refugee camps, access to the Internet is poor or non-existent. The Foreigners’ Registration Office, the BAMF and the German Red Cross in the initial reception centers, just a few meters away from the accommodations, naturally have good Internet. “Digital exclusion not only mirrors spatial and social exclusion, but reinforces it,” adds Madeleine Mawamba of Women in Exile & Friends. Many of the women in the camps are excluded from digital conferences and digital organizing and participation. In addition to digital exclusion, “social distancing is a privilege” in the canteens, where up to 400 people eat or share toilets.

This year, we received reports of rape and sexual harassment in Brandenburg’s initial reception facilities against straight women and lesbians. We organized a rally on November 25, 2020, the “International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women” in front of the Eisenhüttenstadt camp. The Eisenhüttenstadt camp is the initial reception center of the state of Brandenburg. The sexualized assaults happened even though the camp has a so-called “shelter” block where refugees in need of protection are supposed to be housed. One of the affected women volunteered to give an interview to a journalist from Taz about her experience. It is possible to read about it in our blog: Refugee Women in Initial Reception Facilities: Escaping Violence in Violence ” Women in Exile & Friends (info@women-in-exile.net).

On March 8, 2021, the “International Women’s Struggle Day” we will demonstrate in Cottbus – in memory of our murdered sister Rita – against feminicides and camps.

May Rita Ojunge rest in peace and strength.

We will continue to demand justice, even in times of pandemic!

We demand justice for the women who were raped!

We demand justice for our murdered sister Rita! And we repeat loud and clear: camps are not a safe place for women and children!

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