In 2015, more than one million refugees entered Germany.
Some of these refugees braved the harsh Mediterranean alone while others took the rarely recommended and sometimes-hostile route of hiring mercenary people-smugglers.
New focus is now falling on the plight of not only the refugees as one, faceless mass but also now more specifically upon the female refugees, reports flooding the world of widespread abuse occurring within German-maintained refugee camps and shelters.
According to the Women’s Refugee Commission, “Women and girls are vulnerable to rape, assault and other violence in these facilities.”
The German publication Deutsche Welle details how in one shelter located in the former German capital of Bonn, two female refugees, siblings, were forced to share one toilet with their parents and more than 100 other refugees, primarily men.
According to German social welfare groups such as Paritätische Hessen, common spaces shared by both male and female refugees within German relief agencies are in some cases creating safety issues leading to violent crimes such as sexual assault.
In almost all of the reported cases of abuse in Germany, which is physical and sexual as well as psychological, the assaults are being perpetrated by male refugees from Muslim countries upon Female, Muslim refugees and children.
Social workers, trained in accordance with new programs, are now more qualified to spot signs of abuse and the results of violence inside these German, refugee facilities.
These professionals will now be able to offer improved counseling to refugees, in turn helping them to adapt to their new country of residence without the threat of ongoing violence.
These newly established camps (unlike so many others throughout Germany and other areas of Europe) will now provide separate sleeping areas for refugee women and their children as well as private bathing facilities with locks to ensure privacy and security, an attempt to prevent further assaults from occurring in a place traditionally considered a safe space.
Many refugee women from countries ranging from Afghanistan to Syria are also experiencing sexual exploitation when attempting to reach Germany.
Often depending on smugglers to help them navigate the web of countries they must cross to reach their final destination, many of these women fall prey to smugglers that promise a quick and pain-free method to reach a new land. This is often not the case.
One recent incident involved a young woman from Syria who stated, “The smuggler was harassing me. He tried to touch me a couple of times. Only when my male cousin was around he did not come close. I was very afraid, especially that we hear stories along the way of women who can’t afford the smugglers who would be given the option to sleep with the smugglers for a discount.”
With all of the challenges female refugees face in an attempt to free themselves and their children from the bondages and turmoil of war, the additional stress and shame added by sexual exploitation serves to extend their misery.
With the correct resources, time, and effort Germany will surely resolve the violent and intolerable issues facing refugee women and their children in refugee centers across Germany.