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Rights And Exploitation Of Refugee Women

"'Our country,''' she will say, throughout the greater part of its history has treated me as a slave; it has denied me education or any share in its possessions. 'Our' country still ceases to be mine if I marry a foreigner. 'Our' country denies me the means of protecting myself. For, the outsider will say, "in fact, as a woman, I have no country."[1] �

Virginia Woolf, Three Guineas:

Understanding Of The Word Refugee: "Refugee" People who have been uprooted and forced to flee their countries of origin due to war, starvation, natural disasters, or human rights violations. Women and children account for over 80% of the world's twenty-some million refugees, according to his definition.[2].

At every stage of their migratory journey, refugee women encounter gender-specific problems in managing their lifestyle. Access to health care and physical abuse are frequent issues for all refugee women, regardless of their demographic statistics. Discrimination, sexual violence, and human trafficking are also common.[3][4]

Women who fled their home nations to avoid abusive husbands, who beat them physically or sexually with impunity in countries where the criminal justice system gave little protection. The countries of origin were Trinidad, Bangladesh, Syria, Dominica, and Bulgaria.[5]'[6].

Case Study:
What is the procedure of getting a refugee status and the life of refugees after getting the status:
About seventy thousand of the refugees are at present staying in Delhi seeking for the refugee status.

India not a part of UNHCR still facilitates the procedure by giving the number of refugees to UNHCR, who then search for their background, about why they want refugee status, what are their threats. Which furthers the refugees to those countries who are a part of UNHCR, refugees are then transferred to those countries who still struggle to survive in those countries earning they daily bread. It almost took 25 years of their life in the whole process and sometimes more.

An Afghani woman who came to India and continued her stay after the expiry of his term of visa and was seeking for refugee status. After enquiry it was discovered that she left Afghan because of her intimate partner violence which she suffered on daily basis. After she got her temporary yellow card status of refugee she was then send to UNHCR for them to decide for her host country. She was then send to USA. It took almost 26 years in the whole process.
  • The UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) Executive Committee worked tirelessly in the late 1980s to achieve this goal. The publishing of Guidelines on the Protection of Refugee Women was the most visible of these endeavours. Following the IRB's issuance of the Canadian Guidelines, the Supreme Court of Canada published its long-awaited judgement in Canada (Attorney General) v. Ward.[7].

    The guidelines are strengthened by key elements of this judgement and include a significant (though indirectly) judicial endorsement of the basic principles of the guidelines. Although the Canadian Guidelines are not the first formal gesture to acknowledge gender persecution by an individual state, they are by far the most detailed.

    Indeed most Canadian comment attars accepted the spirit of the Guidelines and were willingly by the refugee activists of British and US. US academics who want to move their government in the same way as the Guidelines cite them favourably.[8].
  • In overseas selection, the UNHCR recognised the gender skew and introduced an initiative referred to as the ladies in danger (AWR) programme. The programme targets women who are at imminent risk of violence, physical/sexual assault or repossession in refugee camps. Candidates can also be chosen from a pool of "permanently dysfunctional conditions" that do not allow for any other solutions.[9]

    Which include those who qualify as Convention refugees, but have poor prospects of resettlement because 1) they have many small children and no spouse, 2) they have short ability levels, or 3) "Canada or other resettlement countries have passed over in the past for other reasons." Participating States agreed that the costs associated with successful resettlement could be higher for women.

    Canada was the primary to reply to the UNHCR initiative in 1988: Between 1988 and July 1993, Canada accepted a complete of 586 women and youngsters through the AWR Programme. In practise, the AWR Programme, praiseworthy in its conception, has barely influenced the amount and proportion of girls refugees resettled in Canada.

    Female refugees worldwide are also particularly vulnerable to all types of sexual and physical abuse. In addition to the dangers faced by women from disputed armed groups, they are often at risk of being dehumanized by human traffickers or even border security forces as they migrate from the war zone. Even after leaving the zone of confrontation, they can be protected and elusive. Staying in a refugee camp in the country of origin or finding safety elsewhere presents severe threats to women. The world community has long decided to put an end to this scourge. Despite the statements and resolutions, subsequent reports indicate that protecting female migrants from gender-based abuse remains a difficult issue. However, because it is mostly a matter of legislation not being properly implemented, this problem is addressable, and international events demonstrate that implementation should be prioritised.
  • Over million refugees arrived by boat in the European Union in 2015, and over 150,000 have already come in the first two months of 2016. The majority of people who arrived in Greece and Italy did so as a result of other European Union destinations. In the first two months of 2016, 86 percent of the ocean arrivals came from just ten countries, with 45 percent from Syria and 24 percent from Afghanistan.

    The fact that at least 3,440 people were reported dead or missing during the ocean crossing in 2015, and 464 people were reported dead or missing in the first two months of 2016, despite the fact that the figures are likely higher due to the fact that the figures are likely higher due to the fact that the figures are probably higher due to the fact that the figures are probably higher due to the fact that the figures are probably higher due to the fact that the figures are probably higher due to the fact that the figures are probably higher due to the fact that the figures.[10]

    SGBV affects women refugees and migrants on their journeys as well as in their destination countries. [11]

    Some may also be in their countries of origin escaping various types of GBV. Several studies by human rights groups have recorded the prevalence of sexual abuse in the Syrian conflict.[12] and such women leaving Syria have been victims of such violence. On migration routes or in the EU, however, there are some provisions in place to protect women or to assist GBV survivors.

    GBV cases have been reported along the refugee route. Human Rights Watch, for example, cites SGBV against jailed refugees in Macedonia, as well as 'transactional sex,' in which women were offered priority care and faster case release in exchange for sexual interactions with male guards. One woman stated that one of the police officers in a detention centre was acting inappropriately:

    "He tried whatever he could to urge me alone during a room with him. He wont to approach me and whisper to me that I am very beautiful which he would help me out, that he would personally check out my case."[13]
  • Both the Common European Asylum Scheme (CEAS) and Frontex procedures have incorporated gender equity concerns. The CEAS Directives, which were recently rewritten on paper, require EU Member States to address gender issues both in terms of asylum seeker and refugee reception circumstances and in process of determining refugee status.[14]

Problems faced by refugee women:

War related violence[15]:
One of the women's husbands, for example, was killed in Aleppo, prompting her to flee with her two children, ages 20 and 12. She claimed that she no longer felt safe in Syria and that the country had taken everything from her. She added that, in addition to the fears brought on by the conflict, she experienced additional layer of perplexity as a single woman without a husband.

Another mother, who was travelling with her husband and two young sons, had her home and all of her goods destroyed by a bomb, prompting the family to flee for their own and their children's safety. There are other similar stories of women and families fleeing to protect themselves and their children, who no longer feel safe, and who are determined to enter Europe in order to rebuild their lives in a safe environment. Many people had given up hope of ever being able to return to Syria.[16]

"I feel as if I even have lost my home for ever" (Syrian woman, Kos, July 2015), said one woman, echoing the emotions of the many of her.

Violence during the journey experienced by women:
Women travelling alone or with children are particularly vulnerable to attack, and many instances of women who have been raped or sexually mistreated while on their journeys have been published during interviews. A woman interrogated in Kos was travelling with a friend of a woman who had been raped by smugglers and gravely injured.

Several other women interviewed talked about the abuse that smugglers faced, including sexual violence and the pressure to trade sexual relationships for the value of their passage when they didn't have enough money to pay for it. The UNHCR has also reported "transactional sex," in which women are forced to exchange sexual relations in exchange for aid in getting to Europe.

Staff from NGOs working in refugee camps around Calais, France, who were interviewed for this study also mentioned smugglers' stress for coercive sex, and therefore the presence of "sex workers" within the camps. European political leaders are quick to point to smugglers or traffickers as a main source of the present "crisis", and have even gone so far as to advise destroying smuggling boats as a way of limiting the quantity of refugees attempting to arrive in Europe.[17]

Family and Conjugal Violence:
Women were raped by their own husbands, who were not only unprotected but physically assaulted. Because of the difficulty of completing the journey alone or with only their children, women in this situation find it nearly impossible to leave their violent husbands or partners. And they find themselves locked in a violent relationship with virtually little chance of escaping.

For example, one report in Germany detailed the experience of a Syrian woman whose husband raped and abused her while they were living in a makeshift camp set up to accommodate recently arrived refugees. When the lady went to register a complaint with the police, she was told that they wouldn't listen to her, and there was no genuine help from welfare or refugee support services. According to a Berlin-based group dedicated to assisting refugee women,:

"Here is no real security for asylum-seeking women because whenever they're attacked, either physically or sexually harassed, nobody knows what to try to, there's no clear policy".[18]

Insecurities Related To Accommodation:

The inadequacy of reception and living circumstances in many nations exacerbates refugee women's vulnerability to GBV. At the time of field research on the island, the local establishment did provide primary refugees with shelter in a dilapidated hotel, but it was just like a skull of a building with no electricity or running water, and only two toilets to be shared among approximately the eight hundred or so people. Women and men were forced to share outside water taps for laundry, as well as some MSF-installed mobile showers.

As one lady put it,
"It is dark at night, here are not any lights, then many men downstairs, so we don't leave of our rooms, even once we need to" [19]

Brutal borders, camps no shelter:
People who are able to avoid war in their motherland can nonetheless risk significant danger and even death. As the number of people fleeing violence grows, declining borders and detention center procedures in countries can result in refugee women escaping armed groups and human traffickers being jailed, but also risk being legally detained, such as in one of Turkey's and Greece's twenty-seven immigration detention centres, which can hold irregular migrants and asylum seekers for up to eighteen months.

According to a UNHCR assessment, there are equally terrifying hazards in refugee and internally displaced persons (IDP) camps:
"Traditional behavioural norms and restraints break down in many refugee conditions, primarily those involving the imprisonment of refugees in closed camps. Refugee women and girls may be raped in such situations, acting either individually or in gangs, and self-appointed leaders may thwart attempts to penalise the perpetrators.

Unaccompanied women and girls have been known to join what are called security marriages' in some camp circumstances to prevent sexual harassment.The aggravation of camp life can also lead to violence, together with sexual abuse, within the family."

This violence is scary since it can be perpetrated not just by male camp inmates, but even by national migration authorities or humanitarian workers. Employees of humanitarian groups and security forces sexually exploited minors in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, according to a 2002 report, but the problem has yet to be resolved. A French soldier has been charged with child abuse in the Central African Republic.[20]

Series of policies which are there:
Sex crimes are a serious problem because they are violative of personal rights, traumatise victims, and frequently result in unplanned pregnancies, illegal abortions, problems in early childbearing age, or even death.

The appalling state of violence against displaced women, which persists in camps, can be attributed to a failure to implement a variety of present regulations intended at protecting and preventing women from harm.

Since 1979, UN Member States have pledged to take actions to make the world a safer and more equitable place for women. The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination is a treaty that prohibits all forms of discrimination. Women emphasise that states must take the necessary steps to eliminate prostitution and women's trafficking. This standard should be reasonable in order to safeguard women in refugee and IDP camps from assaults like those in Nigeria and Libya.
  • In order to safeguard women's dignity, the Convention also states that they have the freedom to marry "only with their free and complete consent," which should be enforced once more to prevent 'protective' and forced marriages in camps.
  • Women have the right to "the very greatest standard possible" of physical health, according to the 1993 Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women, and hence the right not to be subjected to "cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment." Furthermore, the declaration emphasises that states have a commitment to protect women, especially refugees, and to ensure that they are able to exercise their rights.[21]

    Many states, and thus the UNHCR, are not living up to their responsibilities. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees' (UNHCR) policy to combat sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) in 2011 focused on three key areas for providing protection to potential and existing victims.
  • The first sector to seek change is data collection and review, which should be aided by research initiatives carried out in partnership with field offices and with full stakeholder participation. This will aid in properly mapping current SGBV hazards as well as impediments to stakeholders' obtaining security services.
  • The second tough field was discovered to be at the organisational level. The Strategy underscores the need for additional SGBV, gender disparity, and discrimination training and sensitization among UNHCR staff. In addition, the plan emphasised the importance of allocating sufficient resources to meet the lengthy needs of SGBV survivors.
  • Finally, the UNHCR needs to improve coordination among the various parties. Recognizing that combating SGBV necessitates a multi-sectoral strategy, UNHCR should strive to strengthen existing ties with other UN agencies as well as build close collaboration with governments and other organisations in order to improve SGBV prevention and response.
  • They reflect the abuse of authority when peacekeeping troops and humanitarian personnel are assaulted. International actors have recognised the need to prevent sexual assaults by military and their personnel, and the United Nations Security Council issued a resolution on women, peace, and security in 2000. A gender perspective must be included into peacekeeping operations, according to the Resolution./'
  • Furthermore, the Resolution suggests that the existing code of conduct be updated in such a way that it prevents sex crimes by reducing effective control and accountability measures.
  • Finally, it emphasises the importance of gender diversity among peacekeeping forces, military observers, and civilian police. [22].

    The UNHCR Handbook for the Protection of Women and Girls, published in 2008, emphasises the importance of putting in place norms of behaviour to prevent sexual attacks by humanitarian and authority workers. It also recommends further training for workers on assault prevention and response, however few of the recommendations are implemented in practise.

    The Migration and Asylum Project (Migration and Asylum Project) is India's first and only refugee law centre. Through programmes that specialise in four theme areas: legal empowerment, women and girls in conflict, research and policy, and advocacy and outreach, it aspires to use creative techniques to extend the protective space available for forced migrants and refugees, mostly women and children..[23]
  • At M.A.P, women and children make up more than 80% of the clientele, many of whom are perpetrators or at risk of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV). Decades of war, moral policing by religious organisations, cultural suppression, language barriers, a lack of knowledge of their rights and confusion regarding their legal status in India are compounding their vulnerability. M.A.P. has unique services in place to provide exclusive and improved resources for these issues in order to combat this group. Further, since 2014, M.A.P has been a member of UNHCR's SGBV working party , which brings together refugee aid organisations in India to plan strategies to counter SGBV within the refugee community.

Access to justice
In cases of sexual harassment, it is critical to respond effectively and to offer access to justice, legal remedies, and redress. Women in camps, on the other hand, have less opportunities to seek justice than males in civilizations where a woman's standing is subjugated to or constrained to that of a man. Forced migration will intensify gender discrimination and make it more difficult for women to pursue legal claims, rendering victims without recourse.

International treaties and accords form a part of a state's system once they are adopted, and they can take precedence over domestic laws. As a result, there are no legal impediments to the successful execution of his rule.[24]
  • Refugees will have equal access to the courts of law on the territory of all Contracting States, according to the UN Convention on the Status of Refugees. It's important to remember that international treaties and accords become part of the legal framework after they've been ratified by the state, and they often take precedence over domestic legislation. As a result, there are no legal obstacles to the effective execution of this standard.
  • Displaced persons are subject to camp regulations, which may be formed by or jointly with the camp's residents, in addition to the host country's domestic laws. These regulations are a mix of norms that have been adapted to the camp's surroundings and play an important role in IDP camps in nations with collapsed legal systems. Sierra Leone's camps, for example, follow a similar set of rules. Furthermore, although they are not legally enforceable, UN principles and guidelines play a significant part as a solution to conflicts in important areas and issue resolution in camps, as they provide standards that should be observed.
  • However, the camp's use of many legal sources increases the difficulty of assuring women's legal defence success. Because the camps lack administrative professionals dedicated to providing rehabilitation and legal support, the victims are unable to resolve their legal claims. To that end, if properly implemented, a UNHCR Inclusive System for Security on Access to Justice for Victims and Survivors of Sexual and Gender-based Abuse might be successful.
  • The sphere of human security has reached a point where the key challenges are easily monitored at large. The above international laws are explicit and UNHCR, along with international non-governmental organisations, ensures that any gaps are filled and offers guidance on resolving the problem of sex crimes. It is obvious, however that having comprehensive legislation, without successful implementation, means little. States need to abide by the principles crafted at the UN level, show support to those that are failing to deal with the surging number of immigrants and find a long-lasting solution of the core problems driving the immigration crisis.

Women and then refugees, where women themselves are struggling to get equal standards as men then there comes a situation where they not only have to face their families, their partners but the whole world. There are assistance programs going on in the whole world but this needs a lot of modification in the proceedings.

There are laws, there are rights for women but then it comes who follows it, people should be educated from the grassroot level, minds of the people should be made up in such a way that they don't discriminate against women on any ground.

It includes the inequality rooted in the minds of every individual the coercion, violence and threats which the women face.

The sufferings of the refugee women who cross their international border in seek of help to get solutions from the violence experienced by them over hundreds of years but in the end they come to face thousands of suffering in their journey as well as the places where they live(camps).

Associations working for the benefit of the refugee women should look in the deep problems of the women and try to evict it from the very roots. Recent years have witnessed such associations which are indeed working for their benefit. A better and safer future of refugee women are prayed and worked on.

  1. Virgina Woolf, THREE GUINEAS 108-09 (1966).
  2. Susan Forbes Martin, REFUGEE WOMEN 1, (1992).
  3. Indra Dooren, Gender: A key dimention of the refugee experience, Canada's journal on refugees, (1987).
  4. Thomas SL, Thomas SD, Displacement and health. Br Med Bull, 69(1):115�27 (2004)
  5. Deacon Z, Sullivan C, Responding to the complex and gendered needs of refugee women,24(3):272�84(2009)
  6. Abuse-Refugee, 1st Ld, Canadian press, (10 Jan. 1993), available in QUICKlAW, CP93 Database; Refugee-Woman, Bgt, CANADIAN PRESS, 10 Feb. 1993, available in QUICKlAW, CP93 Database; Syrian-Woman-/mmigration, CANADIAN PRESS, 11 Feb. 1993, available in QUICKLAW, CP93 Database, Doc. No. 1811803; Women-Deported, Bgt, CANADIAN PRESS, 25 Feb. 1993, available in QUICKLAW, CP93 Database; Woman-Refugee, CANADIAN PRESS, 12 Nov. 1992, available in QUICKLAW, CP92 Database; WomenRefugee, Cxn Complete, CANADIAN PRESS, 2 Feb. 1993, available in QUICKLAW, CP93 Database
  7. Canada (Attorney Genera/) v. Ward 1993 2 SCR 689.
  8. Pamela Goldberg, Anyplace but Home: Asylum in the United States for Women Fleeing Intimate Violence, 26 CORNEll INT'l L.J. 565, 584 (1993); Nancy Kelly, GenderRelated Persecution: Assessing the Asylum Claims of Women, 26 CORNEll INT'L l.J. 625, 633 (1993).
  9. Citizenship and Immigration, Immigration Manual (Selection and Control) IS 3.13, No. 2, (June 1990).
  10. JaneFreedman, Sexual and gender-based violence against refugee women: a hidden aspect of the refugee "crisis"
  11. J. Freedman, Analysing the Gendered Insecurities of Migration: A Case Study of Female Sub-Saharan African Migrants in Morocco. International Feminist Journal of Politics. 14(1): 2012; 36�55, available at: [Google Scholar]
  12. FIDH. Violence against women in Syria: Breaking the Silence, FIDH: Paris (2012),available at: [Google Scholar]
  13. Human Rights Watch. "As though we are not human beings": Police brutality against migrants and asylum seekers in Macedonia". (2015), Human Rights Watch: New York,
  14. Directive EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of on common procedures for granting and withdrawing international protection, (26th june,2013)
  15. Freedman, Sexual and gender-based violence against refugee women: a hidden aspect of the refugee "crisis", Reproductive Health Matters, 24:47, pp18-26, available at: DOI: 10.1016/j.rhm.2016.05.003
  16. Interview of a Syrian women,( July 2015)
  17. S. Sengupta. UN wants to let Europe use military force to stop migrant smuggling boats, New York Times. (6 May. 2015) available at:
  18. J. Moore, When you're a refugee and your husband beats you, you're basically on your own', Buzzfeed. (29 October. 2015), Available at:
  19. Interview by Afghan woman refugee, Kos, (July 2015)
  20. Marija Obradovic, Protecting Female Refugees Against Sexual and gender based violence in camps, United Nations University(9TH November, 2015).
  21. Mangrio, E., Zdravkovic, S. & Carlson, E, Refugee women's experience of the resettlement process: a qualitative study. BMC Women's Health 19, 147 (2019) available at:
  22. Marija Obradovic, Protecting Female Refugees against Sexual and Gender-based Violence in Camps, United Nations University(9TH November, 2015).
  23. Available at:
  24. Marija obradovic,protectinf female refugees against sexual and gender biased violence in camps,(9th November,2015)
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