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​The weakest among the weak

A woman forced to have sex with people smugglers to “earn her family’s onward journey”; another beaten unconscious because she repelled advances from a Hungarian prison guard; a third dressed as a boy who stopped washing so as to make herself undesirable to her fellow travellers: three Syrian stories from Germany reported by a New York Times enquiry. The article, consisting of dozens of interviews of female protagonists of the great migration, as well as with the social and psychological workers who are caring for them, paints a picture in which women and girls are doubly vulnerable. “War and violence in Syria, exploitative smugglers, perilous seas along the way, dangerous sea journeys and an uncertain future on a foreign continent are some of the risks facing tens of thousands of migrants who continue to make their way to Europe and beyond. But at each step of the way, the dangers are amplified for women”, writes the New York daily, specifying how the current migration has led to an increase of violence against women who “report violence from fellow refugees, smugglers, male family members and even European police officers”. The enquiry confirms the fears the United Nations Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) had already expressed in October. According to the UN statistics, of the one million migrants reaching Europe in 2015, one third were women. “The men dominate, numerically and otherwise,” says Heike Rabe, a gender expert at theGerman Institute for Human Rights. 

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Dec. 11, 2019

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