The following video and article describe the experiences and living conditions of women who live in some of the thousands of German asylum centers.
This is how refugee women live in Germany
Lack of privacy, post-traumatic stress and bad living conditions: For the first time a study shows the difficult living circumstances of women refugees, and the study shows some clear solutions.
Bad living conditions, psychological stress, add to that violence and discrimination: female refugees have many negative experiences in Germany. This is shown now in a study by the Charité that was introduced last Tuesday in Berlin.
The study gave first insights into the lives of fleeing women, and shows how the potential for integration could be utilized more, Integration Minister Aydan Özoguz (SPD) said in a foreword to the study.
For the project, 639 women from five cities and counties in reception centers were studied. They were asked about their experience of their flight, as well as their living circumstances once they arrived in Germany.
Tension due to not enough room
The large majority of refugee women in Germany are between 17 to 39 years old and come from Syria, Afghanistan or Iraq. They feel stressed due to the bad living conditions in German reception centers. Their most prominent claim is that there are too many people living in too small a space, and therefore there is no privacy, which often leads to tensions among people.
More than two-thirds of the women are married or in partnerships. 81% say they have children. About 60% of the Syrian and the Afghan women were accompanied by their children when they fled. About every third or fourth woman from Eritrea and Somalia came alone to Germany.
They primarily fled from war, terror and danger to their lives, but also out of hunger or fear of abductions, violence and torture. Post-traumatic stress caused by what other people have done to them weighs especially heavily, the authors write. Much more heavily than natural catastrophes or a lack of nutrition.
Along with these problems, according to the study, there are specifically female reasons for fleeing that add to it, such as sexual violence, fear of honor murder, or forced marriage.
In Germany the women therefore first and foremost seek safety and stability. But this desire is not fulfilled most of the time: “Repeatedly women report experiencing discrimination in refugee centers, but also elsewhere.”
A climate of no respect
More than one quarter of the women, 26%, say they are being discriminated against due to language, the way they look or religion. Especially the hijab as an obvious symbol is often a point of animosity.
Furthermore, there is a climate of lack of respect, as 21% of the women report. They report of violence in the refugee centers. “Often women do not feel safe in the refugee centers,” one author writes in the study.
Often their direct surroundings are a problem “Women in various centers tell us of severe abuse from their husbands in Germany,” the study states.
About half of the women evaluated their living conditions in Germany as mediocre. More than half of the women said their living conditions were poor, or very poor. And hygienic conditions are also deficient.
Many of the women said the separation from their children causes severe psychological stress. And many women also expressed the worry that in Germany families aren’t as valued as where they come from.
Less than 10% receive psychological treatment
The survey shows more than one third of the women lament about poor medical treatment in the centers. Less than 10% report they’re receiving psychological treatment. At the same time most women say that they do not seek psychological treatment or help and that instead they withdraw.
The majority of the refugee women have received a little bit of education, and about every sixth woman is assumed to be illiterate. Only 6% of the women in the survey have a professional education, and about 9% are post-graduates.
Their willingness to integrate themselves into the jobs market is high. Over one third of the women, 38%, reported that they want to study or work within the next five years.
“With that they see an independence from the government as well as from men as well as a relief from their roles as ‘submissives’,” the authors write.
Special protection for women is necessary
In light of the results of this study, the researchers gave a few recommendations. In order to push integration into society and the jobs market forwards, access to language courses has to be made easier. And psychological counseling should be made more accessible as well, with more offers.
An improvement of the psychological well-being of the women would lead to a faster family reunification.
Furthermore, the women should be supported more by translators who speak their mother tongue and through other helpers. In the worst-case scenario, life-endangering diagnostic assessments could be made because of lack of adequate translations. Especially with languages that aren’t very common and rare, a telephone or a video translation could help.
Also women who are in special need of protection should receive more attention. For instance single mothers, victims of torture, or heavily traumatized women. And women who travel alone should be housed separately.