Wednesday, March 9, 2016

European Parliament votes for better protection of female refugees

The European Parliament on Tuesday, International Women's Day, adopted a resolution calling for specific measures to curb violence against female refugees.

During a plenary session here, British Member of European Parliament (MEP) Mary Honeyball (Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats) welcomed the adoption of her report concerning the situation of female refugees and asylum seekers in the European Union.

The text, adopted by 388 votes in favor, with 150 against and 159 abstentions, reminded member states of the EU that "the specific needs of women refugees are not fully taken into consideration during their arrival and their stay in Europe."

During an address to the Parliament, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said, "Contrary to what a large part of public opinion still thinks, the majority of people who arrive in Europe with the hope to find a sanctuary in Europe are women and children."

  • Recent field reports from the UNHCR and Amnesty International reveal numerous sexist acts and sexual assaults committed against these women by people smugglers, security guards, police officers or other refugees.

All female migrants questioned by Amnesty International said they felt they were in danger, and many recounted having been proposed food, clothes or discounts in exchange for sexual relations. The scarcity or absence of means for these women to report aggressions to authorities means a majority of gender-based violence goes unperceived.

The resolution said these women can be submitted to genital mutilation and the use of rape as a weapon of war.

"The goal of stopping violence against women must be fully integrated in migration policies and in the response to the refugee crisis. In particular, family reunification and resettlement policies must imperatively take account of the consequences on the security of women and children who attempt to reach Europe," Honeyball said.

  • Apart from calling for separate housing and sanitary facilities for women, the resolution says new measures should allow women refugees and asylum seekers access to legal assistance adapted to women and to have the right to demand female interviewers, translators and interpreters.

The text also specifies that manifestations of sexual violence and discrimination should be valid reasons for asylum requests in the European Union.

"These women must really be prepared for integration: they must take part in language courses and training. Some of them have already worked in the past, others have not. The preparation of these women for employment, if it is what they wish, is therefore a critical issue," Honeyball added.
8- 9/3/16

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