They run away under pressure, with children in their arms, sometimes they are even pregnant, they are victims of phisical and sexual violences, but they do all is their hands to cross the border. Isolated in the host countries, without access to jobs opportunities, trainings and languages classes. They are refugees women who run away from wars. It is the International Day for women, but there is no much to celebrate about.
The image goes to them, to their faces, to their struggle, and definiteley to the humanity they face daily, before their journey to Europe and after their arrival to host countries.
The EU Parliament dedicates to refugees women the International Women Day. with a resolution voted by Meps to make pressure to the EU on the situation of women refugees : “having been the victim of violence due to being a woman should be a valid reason for seeking asylum in the European Union” the report states.
The Celebration of Women Day should be an opportunity to discuss at EU level on the other side of this humanitarian crisis: 2 thousand migrants arrive every day to EU member states, over 55% of them are women and children.
Teenagers, in particular , refugees or asyluum seekers, come from very difficult situation: forced marriages since they were girls, 20% of them reports to have been victim of violence when they where children,as reported by a study by EU Parliament. In some parts of the world these numbers arise to 35%. The child brides ,aged less than 18 years old , are 60 millions in the world. Married women have exsperience of violence from their partners and this phenomenon hits one third of women in the whole world. Women and girls victims of genital mutilation are counted to be 140 millions in the world.
Running away from persecutions and wars, women try to leave back their traumas, but reading reports by UNHCR, they are often victims of violences during their journey to cross the borders, sometimes to recieve some food and clothes or to recieve the right documents to continue their journey. “In 2015 we visited and consulted 100 thousand of people, 19% were women in Greece and in Serbia, 13% in Italy, 8% who were in Italy they were pregnant and 9% of pregnant women in Serbia . Women who were victims of violences during their way to Europe or when they were girls are 60% of them. Europe is facing the largest humanitarian crisis , women do not stop even they are sick” Aurelie Ponthieu of Doctors Without Borders said during a debate in the European Parliament “Furthermore, health problems come from the lack of food lack and hygiene , with safe passages and health care during migrats way we could prevent health issues”.
Once they arrive to European countries, things do not go better for women, in registration and reception camps often there is a lack of gender separeted sanitarian services, even sometimes there are no doors in the toilettes, women and men have to sleep all together in tension conditions. “In Italy we had to leave the reception centre in Pozzallo because it did not meet basic condictions of separation between women and men spaces, even there were not doors of the toilettes. We should start from the basics of the reception EU directive, it is a shame that people who suffered tortures in prisons in Libya, they arrive in Europe and they find these life condictions” Aurelie Ponthieu of Doctors Without Borders said.
Communities expect that women cotinue to embody all the reminiscences from their country of origin, so that while men, perhaps, start to integrate in the host country society little by little and have the opportunity to find a job , women live often in insolation condictions. They are usually economic and social dependent from men: guys are encouraged to integrate theirselves, while women are encouraged to keep their cultural identity. That’s why asylum seekers women are kept out from jobs opportunities, trainings, languages classes, health care assistance they might become invisible. They work mainly as maids, and in low paid jobs, usually their professional career and their studies are not recognized by host countries.
“Registration and reception centres often do not respect basic human rights principles, they are not efficient when they are under pressure, they are not able to identify vulnerable people, it should be considered that giving regular health care assistance it is more economic than act only for urgences” Martina Huber from the EU Agency for Fondamental Rights (FRA).
The report presented by Mary Honeyball, Mep of Socialists and Democrats, underlines that once women are accepted in an EU country, their special needs are often not fully addressed throughout the asylum process. That’s why there is a need of New EU-wide measures to give women access to proper legal advice or the right to request female interviewers and interpreters, as written in the report. Reception centres should include separate sleeping and sanitation facilities for women as well as trauma counselling and appropriate health services.