Tag: refugee camps

Impressions of the expert conference “Protection of Refugees against gender-based Violence”

Conference “Protection of Refugees against gender-based Violence”

text in german

by International Women’s Space

There are two forms of violence, according to Jennifer Kamau, an activist of International Women’s Space Berlin, a political group. The first form hits people directly and comes from individuals and structures, while the second form occurs when the public looks away and stays silent. The latter is worse because it ends up accepting and reinforcing certain other forms of violence, in particular, (structural) racist violence.
Along with other activists, Jennifer visits women in refugee centres, bringing their first-hand experiences of violent abuse to the public. In her workshop titled “Self-organized groups and empowerment“, Kamau spoke passionately about violence against (refugee) women in Germany. She raised the question of human rights “Where are they? (human rights) “, she asked.
Jennifer Kamau’s workshop was one of many that were held at the conference titled “Protection of Refugees against gender-based Violence – Empowerment of Refugee Women “. It was organized by Frauenhauskoordinierung (Association of Women’s Shelters) in cooperation with leading German independent welfare organisations. The idea was to bring project funders and other stakeholders in this field to share/exchange information and network. Self-organisations and representatives of LGBTTIQ were also speakers at the event. The conference was part of a project funded by the Federal Commissioner for Migration, Refugees and Integration. The project aims to implement measures to protect refugee women against violence and to empower them.
Since counselling and support structures for refugee women are not available everywhere, Frauenhauskoordinierung focuses on developing approaches for a better transition management. In order to provide such access, the support systems must be connected with the areas of migration and asylum.
At the conference, Heike Rabe of the German Institute for Human Rights spoke about the legal challenges and loopholes that exist in the current system at the interface between immigration law and violence protection. She raised the issue of how immigration and welfare authorities deal with women subject to the Residenzpflicht or residency requirement, who may want to move to another city or live in another federal state following incidents of violence at their centre. Heike Rabe believes the current immigration, asylum and benefit laws are sufficient. They ‘just’ need to be practised. She spoke about existing legal provisions by which the State can transfer residents and thus protect the survivor by separating her from the perpetrator. The Protection Against Violence Act and police powers to intervene apply at these centres. However, what is lacking is the effective application of the provisions stipulated in the immigration, asylum and benefits laws. Heike Rabe called for appropriate guidelines for authorities to assess cases of gender-based violence. On the other hand, it is important to have support systems that encourage women to assert their rights, she stressed.
Another speaker, Elisabeth Ngari, of Women in Exile spoke about “empowerment, victimisation, and solidarity“. She believes women refugees face double victimisation – first, as displaced people and then also as women. She therefore stressed the importance of empowering women refugees. Her organisation conducts workshops where women refugees talk about current topics, exchange information and discuss gender-specific issues. Women in Exile are a politically active group and have called for, among other things, the abolishment of all lagers in their campaign: “No Lager For Women”.
What can social work do or ‘offer’ in this context? Prof. Nivedita Prasad from Alice Salomon University of Applied Sciences Berlin, who raised this question, has called for social work to be regarded as a human rights profession. Social workers must check that all women have access to protection measures and spaces. Empowerment must be integral to every social workers’ understanding of their profession. Nivedita Prasad also spoke about the dangers of racist exclusions, like the created separation of ‘us’ and ‘them’, the culturalizing instrumentalization of violence against women (e.g. Cologne incident on New Year’s Eve 2015), the ‘integration mania instead of inclusion’, as well as the intersectionality of sexualized violence and asylum. Ultimately, she said, it is important that every social worker starts with him/herself to make structural inadequacies, visible and public. How is racism dealt with in your field of work? When looking for a new co-worker, why do I not look for a multilingual colleague who I can engage with at eye level and instead go for “just“ an interpreter?
At the final panel, Denise Klein from agisra e.V., Cologne said that our current system of violence protection is a ‘two tier’ one. “We are the ones that created the collective centres and Asylum Seekers Benefits’ Law (Asylbewerberleistungsgesetz), and now we see the consequences of that. If refugees had the same rights and liberties, then we would not need a special support system for them“.
According to Jennifer Kamau, it is time that white people took responsibility. “Africa is not poor. You took us all. You told us: here it’s better, so now we are here but we suffer from your system. Changing the structure in your country is not our but your task“, she stressed.
In conclusion, the conference sent a very strong signal by questioning structures that maintain white privilege. The idea was to come out of one’s comfort zone and use our position to fight for protection against gender-based violence and (structural) racism and to forge honest relationships based on trust with women refugees and stand in solidarity with their self-organized struggles. “If you want to change you have to start on your own, with whatever little you can do. But stop being silent about the things you see“, urged Jennifer Kamau.

Eindrücke von der Fachveranstaltung „Schutz von geflüchteten Menschen vor geschlechtsspezifischer Gewalt“ am 23. September 2016, Berlin

Nach Jennifer Kamau, Aktivistin der Gruppe International Women‘s Space Berlin, gibt es zwei Formen von Gewalt: diejenige, die von Personen oder Strukturen ausgehend Menschen direkt (be)trifft und diejenige, die entsteht, wenn die Öffentlichkeit dabei wegschaut und schweigt. Letztere sei die schlimmere, weil sie bestimmte Formen von Gewalt – vor allem (strukturelle) rassistische Gewalt – akzeptiert und damit verfestigt.
Sehr eindringlich spricht Jennifer Kamau in ihrem Workshop zum Thema „Selbstorganisierte Gruppen und Empowerment“ über Gewalt gegen (geflüchtete) Frauen in Deutschland. „Where are the human rights?“, fragt sie. Gemeinsam mit anderen Frauen macht sie auf die Missstände politisch aufmerksam, besucht geflüchtete Frauen in Unterkünften und verleiht den unzähligen Geschichten von Gewalterfahrungen in Deutschland eine Stimme.
Es ist ein Workshop neben vielen anderen an diesem Tag auf der Fachveranstaltung „Schutz von geflüchteten Menschen vor geschlechtsspezifischer Gewalt – Empowerment von geflüchteten Frauen“, organisiert von Frauenhauskoordinierung in Kooperation mit den Spitzenverbänden der freien Wohlfahrtspflege. Es geht um fachlichen Austausch und Vernetzung von Projektträgern und weiteren Akteuren, die sich in diesem breiten Themenfeld engagieren. Selbstorganisationen und Vertreter_innen von LSBTTIQ* sind als Referierende und Expert_innen aktiv eingebunden. Anlass ist ein im Rahmen der Bundesbeauftragten für Migration, Flüchtlinge und Integration gefördertes Projekt, in dem Maßnahmen zum Gewaltschutz und zur Stärkung der Frauen umgesetzt werden.
Frauenhauskoordinierung richtet zudem den Blick auf die Erarbeitung von Ansätzen für ein erfolgreiches Übergangsmanagement, denn nicht überall sind das Angebot und der Zugang zu Beratung und Unterstützung für geflüchtete Frauen gesichert. Dafür sei vor allem die Vernetzung der Hilfesysteme mit den Bereichen der Migration und Flucht notwendig.
So spricht Heike Rabe vom Deutschen Institut für Menschenrechte in ihrem Vortrag über die rechtlichen Herausforderungen und Lücken an der Schnittstelle zwischen Ausländerrecht und Gewaltschutz. Wie gehen die Ausländer- und Leistungsbehörden damit um, wenn Frauen, die der Residenzpflicht unterliegen oder Wohnsitzauflagen haben, aufgrund eines Gewaltvorfalls in einer Unterkunft schnellstmöglich in eine andere Stadt oder in ein anderes Bundesland umziehen möchten? Nach ihrer Auffassung sind die bestehenden Gesetze ausreichend. Sie müssen „nur“ angewandt werden. Die Behörden haben die Möglichkeiten der Umverteilung und damit der Trennung von Täter und Opfer im Sinne des Schutzes der Betroffenen. Das Gewaltschutzgesetz und die polizeilichen Eingriffsbefugnisse greifen auch in den Unterkünften. Es fehlt aber zum einen an der effektiven Anwendung der Vorschriften im Aufenthalts-, Asyl- sowie Leistungsrecht. Hier wären sogenannte ermessenleitende Vorgaben im Fall von geschlechtsspezifischer Gewalt für die Behörden hilfreich. Zum anderen ist es wichtig, dass das Unterstützungssystem Frauen ermutigt, ihre Rechte geltend zu machen.
Elisabeth Ngari von Women in Exile referiert über „Empowerment, Viktimisierung, Solidarität“. Sie spricht von der doppelten Viktimisierung, der geflüchtete Frauen durch die Fluchterfahrung und das gleichzeitige Frausein ausgesetzt werden. Empowerment von geflüchteten Frauen sei daher sehr wichtig. Women in Exile führen daher Workshops mit anderen geflüchteten Frauen durch; hier wird den Themen der Frauen Raum gegeben, es werden Informationen geteilt und aktuelle Probleme diskutiert. Damit diese Themen auch in der Öffentlichkeit hörbar werden, sind Women in Exile politisch aktiv und fordern unter anderem im Rahmen einer Kampagne: „Keine Lager für Frauen“.
Was kann Soziale Arbeit in diesem Kontext tun bzw. „leisten“? Prof. Dr. Nivedita Prasad von der Alice Salomon Hochschule Berlin appelliert an eine Soziale Arbeit als Menschenrechtsprofession. Jede_r Sozialarbeiter_in muss prüfen, ob Schutzmaßnahmen und -orte verfügbar und zugänglich für alle Frauen sind. Empowerment gehöre zum Grundverständnis einer jeden Sozialen Arbeit. Sie spricht aber auch von Hindernissen, die sich vor allem in der gefährlichen Praxis rassistischer Ausschlüsse wiederfinden. So zum Beispiel durch die häufige diskursive Trennung zwischen „wir“ und „den anderen“, die kulturalisierende Instrumentalisierung von Gewalt gegen Frauen (Beispiel Köln, Silvester 2015), die „Integrationsmanie statt Inklusion“ sowie die Intersektionalität von sexualisierter Gewalt und Flucht. Wichtig sei es letztendlich, dass jede_r Sozialarbeiter_in bei sich selbst anfängt und versucht strukturelle Defizite sichtbar und öffentlich zu machen: Wie wird mit Rassismus in meinem Arbeitsumfeld umgegangen? Warum suche ich bei der Stellenbesetzung nicht eine_n mehrsprachige_n Kollegin_Kollegen „auf Augenhöhe“, sondern „nur“ eine_n Dolmetscher_in?
Auch auf dem Abschlusspodium wird es deutlich: Es gäbe aktuell einen Gewaltschutz „zweiter Klasse“, so Denise Klein von agisra e.V. in Köln. „Wir haben die Massen- und Gemeinschaftsunterkünfte und das Asylbewerberleistungsgesetz geschaffen – jetzt sehen wir die Konsequenzen. Wenn Geflüchtete die gleichen Rechte und die gleiche Freizügigkeit hätten, dann bräuchte es kein gesondertes Unterstützungssystem.“
Laut Jennifer Kamau ist es – schon längst überfällig – an der Zeit, dass weiße Menschen Verantwortung übernehmen. Schließlich betont sie: „Africa is not poor. You took us all. You told us: here it’s better, so now we are here but we suffer from your system. Changing the structure in your country is not our but your task.“
In diesem Sinne hatte die Veranstaltung eine sehr eindringliche Note, die ans eingemachte weiße Privilegiennest ging. Es sollte darum gehen, die eigene „comfort zone“ zu verlassen und eigene Machtpositionen im Kampf für Schutz vor geschlechtsspezifischer Gewalt und (strukturellem) Rassismus zu nutzen. Es geht auch darum, ehrliche Vertrauensbeziehungen zu geflüchteten Frauen aufzubauen und sich mit bestehenden selbstorganisierten Kämpfen zu solidarisieren. „If you want to change you have to start on your own the little you can do. But stop being silent about the things you see“, so Jennifer Kamau.

Susann Thiel

Die Fachveranstaltung “Schutz von geflüchteten Menschen vor geschlechtsspezifischer Gewalt” hat am 23.9.2016 in Berlin stattgefunden.

Im folgenden finden Sie ein Bericht über die Veranstaltung. Einen weitereren Bericht gibt es auf der Seite der Beauftragten für Migration, Flucht und Integration.

w2eu Statement 22.01.2017: No Dublin Returns to Greece!

‘One step forward, hundreds back…’ seems to be the motto under which EU experts implement refugee policy, as currently also demonstrated in Greece. On 8 December 2015, the European Commission published its fourth recommendation on the resumption of Dublin Returns to Greece, this time stating that they could be gradually re-installed, as according to them, refugee rights would be adequately protected in Greece. At the same time, images of people who fled war and are now staying in tents covered in snow are spreading through the global media. Once more, the EU is using Greece to make a point: Dublin has to survive, not matter what, that’s the plan. But in reality, this failed plan has significant consequences, causing one more massive human tragedy in Europe for thousands of people who are escaping war, conflict, disaster, hunger and poverty.

Refugees are exposed to snow and rain while forced to stay in tents and unheated prefabricated houses, some of which are old and have broken doors and windows. Over the last days awful pictures from the “Hotspot” detention-camp in Moria on Lesvos have travelled around the world. This time, small tents, not even sufficient for a short summer rain, were collapsing under the pressure of snow and the heavy rains. These pictures where taken by the inhabitants themselves, only a few days after the Greek Deputy Minister of Migration Ioannis Mouzalas had proudly announced that now most refugees would not have to live in tents any more. But refugees and solidarity people alike rose in anger immediately posting photos and videos from camps all around Greece on the internet, demonstrating the opposite. The ‘Winterization’ project failed, during a time when the EU is asserting that Greece is now a safe place for refugees, able to offer adequate living conditions and proper access to asylum procedures.

Greece is not a safe country for refugees. Refugees stuck in Greece are suffering in the inhuman and inadequate living conditions in detention centres and mass camps despite the presence of the UNHCR and numerous international and national NGOs. Refugees lack basic legal rights, access to information and legal aid. They have endured months without access to asylum procedures. They have spent months fighting for their right to stay in Greece while the feasibility of their deportation to Turkey is being examined by the EU’s so-called asylum experts. Hundreds were returned without proper access to legal aid for an appeal against the return decision, without a proper examination of their individual persecution in Turkey, without their asylum claim being heard, without a proper examination of their vulnerability, which should exclude them from any deportation procedure. Their lives have been put on hold on the islands of the Aegean and on the mainland by long-lasting procedures of pre-registration and registration. Access to the asylum procedure is yet not secured as the blocked Skype calls to authorities remain the only way to make an appointment, while thousands of families are separated and have to wait to reunite for almost one year.

Even Greeks are escaping Greece. And so are recognized refugees as there is no welfare system and no labour market, which could offer on the prospect of a dignified life. Even survival is not secured upon receiving the right to stay in Greece as those recognized are excluded even from state housing for refugees and from most of the social support structures offered by NGOs. May we remind you that Greece is suffering for years from a massive economic crisis and all people living here have to cope with the devastating austerity measures forced upon them by the Troika, by our European governments and institutions.

We strongly denounce the EU’s dirty game! The Hotspots are detention centres at the external borders of Europe, meant to select and sort human beings into ‘deportable’ or ‘not-deportable’, ‘migrant’ or ‘refugee’, ‘useless’ or ‘useful’, ‘unwanted’ or ‘wanted’. EASO experts are those who carry out the selection. Frontex is not only the key-institution pursuing militarised controls and the deterrence of “refugee flows” at sea, but also responsible for deportations from the Aegean islands back to Turkey. The Dublin Regulation is a mechanism aimed to keep all refugees at the external borders of the EU. Relocation has failed with only 6,212 persons out of 66,400 successfully moving to other EU-states until the beginning of January 2016 – within the first year of a two-year implementation period. ‘Voluntary’ return is for most people the last choice, and a decision followed the suffering of massive deterrence policies, such as enduring for a year a life in a tent at the rims of Greek society. Refugees give up, finally, preferring to “die at once, than every second again and again” – a sentence that is heard over and over again by refugees in the Greek camps. The cruelty of deportations to Afghanistan is obvious, when we see how European citizens are advised not to go there due to concerns for their safety. Nevertheless, and ironically, the life-threatening situation in Afghanistan is swiftly forgotten when it comes to the granting of asylum to Afghan refugees. The EU-Turkey Deal is nothing more than the result of the blackmailing strategies of a dictator, using Europe’s desire to keep refugees out as leverage.

But Dublin will fall again! Deportations to Greece were already once stopped back in 2011 following the decision of the European Human Rights Court in the case ‘MSS v. Greece’ – and as a result of a long struggle during which many, many refugees escaped from Greece, were deported and escaped again. Some had to flee through Europe 5-6 times. But finally it was over, they succeeded often, and stayed.
Dublin Returns to Greece will be strongly contested in national and international courts again now. As we have seen, the Dublin-regulation has been overrun many times before by the struggles for freedom of movement of individuals and groups.
Mouzalas had to correct himself. We politely suggest the European Commission to do the same.

Refugees are no numbers on a tent, no fingerprints, but people with faces, names and stories!

The Dublin Regulation has to be abolished now.
Human rights violations have to end now.
People have to join their families now.
People have to be in safety and in dignified conditions now.

We therefore demand:

Equal rights for all!
Freedom of movement to all refugees in Greece and elsewhere!
The right to stay for all!
Stop deportations!

No one is illegal!

w2eu – a network born out of the struggle against Dublin returns in 2009

w2eu Statement 22.01.2017: No Dublin Returns to Greece!