Migrant women reportedly sexually abused in German refugee shelters
by Daily Sabah
ISTANBULFeb 20, 2016 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Daily Sabah
Feb 20, 2016 12:00 am
A group of refugee women have reported sexually harassment by security personnel at an emergency shelter in Cologne, the Local reported on Thursday.
Refugees wrote a letter to the Office for Migration and Refugees, complaining about unhygienic conditions such as garbage in the hallway, same-sex toilets, and adjacent beds lacking privacy. Some refugees have also complained of sexual abuse and harassment from security personnel. The women accused security personnel of repeatedly photographing and filming them while they take showers or breastfeed. Some reported that several security guards had attempted to persuade them to have sexual intercourse. Some even reported being raped by the guards, Spiegel reported.
A 19-year-old refugee woman told Der Spiegel that this is an "open secret," adding that security personnel put refugee women under pressure, threatening them that if they do not join, their husbands will be informed about the sexual assault or they will be kicked out. She said no women can go to the toilet alone or take a shower. She said a security guard attempted rape of a 16-year-old girl and when he was seen by several people, he ran away. The girl and her family were transferred to another center, she added.
The Local cited a young Syrian woman who has been living in a sports hall for a month, saying one of the security personnel asked her if she would go with her and when she said she was not interested, he told her she'd soon be kicked out.
Three women agreed to speak with journalists about what happened to them but they have refused to give their statements to police from fear of retribution, reported Der Spiegel. Police have urged women to talk about abuse so they can investigate the incidents properly.
Amnesty International reported last month that female migrants, adult and children, face violence and sexual assault while fleeing to Europe. Women refugees reported having to use the same bathroom and shower facilities as men, and some said they avoid eating or drinking, in order to reduce the need to visit the toilets. The report did not discern incidents of sexual assault from general violence. One 22-year-old Iraqi woman told Amnesty International that a uniformed security guard in Germany offered her clothes in exchange for being alone with him. The report added that smugglers target women who are traveling alone, knowing they are vulnerable. Smugglers offer these women a discounted trip or a shorter wait in exchange for sex, particularly when the women lacked financial resources to pay for their journey.