An original translation by Nash Montana
(Read this one to the end)
From this German publication Spiegel
The average refugee coming from Syria, is under the age of 30, and male. Genders play an underestimated role. Where are all the mothers and daughters from the crisis regions?
Do you still have the pictures in your head? The masses of refugees at the train stations of Budapest and Vienna, the asylum seekers laying on narrow cots in tent cities, the worn down survivors sitting on mediterranean beaches in Europe: Fathers, sons and brothers on almost every picture. A few brought their families along, but most of them came alone.
Female refugees on the other hand: a rarity. As if there were no females suffering and distressed, as if the civil wars in Syria and Eritrea were a purely male matter. Why are mostly men traveling through the Balkan and over the mediterranean? Where are the women from the crisis regions?
The crisis in Europe looks like a mass stampede of young men: alone last year, 2014, two-thirds of asylum seekers in Germany were males, and more than 70% of them were under the age of 30. Europe wide the statistics look pretty much the same, and in the group of 14 to 34-year-old refugees, even three-quarters of them were male.
But worldwide this trend is reversed: every second refugee is, according to the UNCHR, female – counting in all the refugees who are not leaving or cannot leave their homelands.
Apparently males leave mostly the regions where military conflicts rage. “It appears that men are trying to evade a direct participation in the conflicts in this way,” says Pro-Asylum chief Günter Burkhardt to SPIEGEL ONLINE. The risk to be killed or forcibly recruited is very high for males in Syria.
Nonetheless the women aren’t just left behind in the crisis regions: Millions of families just in the last few years fled the Islamic State terror from Syria and Iraq into neighboring countries – from which then only the fathers and younger males undertook the precarious voyage to Europe.
Alone in Italy last year seven times as many males as females arrived, according to the EU-border-protection agency FRONTEX.
Which leaves women and children in extremely unsafe conditions back home:
In many civil wars the systematic rape of women and young girls is a prerogative, a declaration of war strategy,” writes UNO:
“Women that have been victims of such violence, suffer longterm psychologically. Depression and suicidal thoughts are rampant because they are socially isolated.” That is why in the EU these women can be recognized as their own social refugee group since 1984, and Germany has clear guidelines on how to deal with victims of gender specific persecution.
The flight itself bears tremendous risks for these women. Besides hunger, disease and death they have to fear sexual violence. This is a problem that has gotten some attention in recent times in Germany: In Bavaria, for example, it has come to light that refugee women are being sexually exploited and forced into prostitution. One delegate of the German federal government warns of increased attacks on children, girls and boys.
This situation is especially dangerous for women traveling alone. Many women have lost their partners, their brothers, and their fathers in the war, and are alone with their children. Which makes them easy prey. In most refugee camps these alone women do not even get recognition as part of the refugee groups and therefore, more often than not they go without food, without water. In Germany it is known that female refugees are at constant risk in refugee camps, to become victims of sexual violence.
Because many families in these crisis regions cannot afford to flee with the whole family, they make fateful decisions between various risks. Many fathers then make a clear choice, according to Günter Burkhardt, they make the decision to rather make the trip to Europe by themselves because they think it’s less risk for the family this way. And then later, if they successfully arrived in Germany, they then send for their women and children.
It is unknown yet if this is a hat-plant that will eventually work for every refugee family. Thousands of these migrants don’t even get a longterm residence permit, which are key to being able to send after the rest of the family.