The Plight of Women Refugees

Research by Amnesty International exposes the inhumane and unsafe conditions that women refugees suffer in the course of transit to Europe and once they arrive.

Interviewing 40 women and girls who had travelled from Turkey to Europe through Greece, the organisation recounted the consensus among them of feeling threatened or unsafe. At every stage of their flight from home, they were subjected to physical violence, assault, exploitation (including financial) and sexual harassment.

The research included accounts from seven pregnant women refugees who described instances such as being crushed at border crossings and having to deal with a lack of basic healthcare.

On arrival, those who were unaccompanied felt especially vulnerable in camps as a result of (among other things) having to share toilet and shower facilities with men and sleep alongside them. Some women went to lengths such as sleeping on beaches to feel less threatened or depriving themselves of food and drink in order to avoid needing to use the toilet.

Tirana Hassan, Amnesty International’s Crisis Response Director, said it was “shameful” that groups most at risk of abuse, such as unaccompanied women, were at risk in Europe when anywhere else in the world we would expect immediate steps to be taken to safeguard them. She emphasised that it is “completely unacceptable” that fleeing for their lives they should be exposed to “further humiliation, uncertainty and insecurity.”

This blog was written by Natalia Ventikos.

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