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19. June 2018

Current asylum policies put refugee women at risk

Press Release: Cologne, 14 June 2018. “The planned law on a new policy to cover family reunification for people with ‘subsidiary protection’ will have a particular impact on women and girls,” says Monika Hauser, founder of medica mondiale, on the International Day for the Elimination of Sexualised Violence in Conflict (June 19) and World Refugee Day (June 20). “Stranded somewhere along the route, for example in Jordan or in the camps in Libya, they face the very real threat of sexual exploitation, forced prostitution and forced or child marriage.”

Ms Hauser points out that many women have been waiting for years to travel on and join their spouse and family. “Research into trauma has shown that domestic and family bonds are an important factor in the stabilisation of traumatised people. An inhumane policy such as the one proposed is a recipe for re-traumatisation.”

For this reason, medica mondiale is issuing the following appeal to the German government:

  • Firstly, family reunification has to be made possible for all refugees.
  • Secondly, the Cologne-based women’s rights organisation insists that the plan to set up “Anchor” all-in-one refugee facilities be abandoned. Instead, women and families need to be accommodated in a decentralised way.
  • Thirdly, no country can be declared a “safe country of origin” if there continues to be a threat to human life there.
  • Fourthly, sexualised wartime violence has to be finally accepted as grounds for asylum. For this, the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees has to employ staff who have the necessary specialist knowledge on the issue of sexualised violence.
  • The fifth demand is for aid and assistance to be channelled to survivors of sexualised violence in their countries of origin. “Most women who experience violence during war remain in their own countries as internally displaced people or flee to neighbouring countries,” explains Ms Hauser. medica mondiale funds long-term aid for them, as well as projects on the prevention of sexualised violence. These offers of assistance need further financing as part of a feminist approach to foreign, development and security policy.

Politicians should no longer tolerate a situation where women continue to be subjected to sexualised (wartime) violence and survivors are given no support, while those responsible and the direct perpetrators go unpunished. “If we are to speak of gender justice, then we are not talking about providing alms but about ensuring peace, security and, of course, the rights of women and girls.”

Explanations of the five demands being voiced by medica mondiale are available in our Information Service Women Seeking Refuge.


One third of those currently seeking refuge in Germany are women. Bombs and other terrifying im-pacts of war are not the only reasons that women flee: experiences or the threat of sexualised vio-lence, honour killings, forced marriage or female genital mutilation were all among the ten most fre-quently cited reasons for flight named by respondents in the “Representative survey of refugee women in various federal states in Germany” carried out in 2016. The spiral of violence continues during their flight, with a very real risk that the women will experience new violence at the hands of traffickers, border officials, soldiers, volunteers in refugee camps or fellow (male) refugees. Since 2016, the women’s rights organisation medica mondiale has been running training courses throughout Germany on a stress- and trauma-sensitive approach to dealing with refugees. Some 900 volunteer and full-time staff in refugee facilities and social institutions have taken part so far.