Blindness to gender aspects keeps women in dependency and vulnerability in the Danish system
Friday 9th of June a new report was published by Refugee Welcome: "They don't know how much stress we have – women in the asylum system and the integration process". You can order or pick up the report in Danish as a printed book, or as a PDF in Danish or English.
136 pages, fully illustrated with photos and figures.
"In recent years there has been a lot of focus on getting migrant women into employment and on putting a stop to the social control some of them are exposed to. But the role which the Danish state and society plays on both issues has been totally overlooked, as well as the poorer starting point which many women come with. When you treat everyone equally and make the same demands, women have to fight extra hard – they are exposed to structural discrimination, and are kept in dependency," says Michala Clante Bendixen who wrote the report.
"The Danish Women's Council welcomes the report, which is a testimony on how women are more vulnerable in the asylum system and the integration process in many different ways. A topic which deserves attention. In a country like Denmark, bragging of a leading position on gender equality, this knowledge is important."
– Maria Jose Landeira Østergård, charperson of The Danish Women's Council
Samira is a Palestinian, now staying in a deportation centre: "I came to Denmark four years ago because I got married. But he beat me, and I left him after four months. I can't go back to Lebanon where my family lives. They will kill me because I got a divorce. Now I have been in Kærshovedgård for one year and I can't get money or help from anybody. It's very tough."
Which women is the report about?
• Asylum seekers
• Recognized refugees
• Family members reunified with refugees
• Displaced from Ukraine
The report contains:
• 19 cases
• Figures and statistics
• 12 recommendations
It describes gender aspects of:
• The journey to Europe
• Violence, abuse and exploitation
• The legal processes and criteria for residence
• Health, economy, parenthood, education and work
There are many thousands of women living in Denmark who were born and raised in patriarchal societies oppressing women who have often been fighting bravely against all odds to improve their basic situation. They have not had the same opportunities as their brothers and as Danish girls. They have sought refuge in this country on various grounds, most often through asylum or family reunification.
These women are worse off than men in their home countries and on the journey here. But the dependence on men and the worse conditions continue when they arrive in Denmark. Here the women are met by a system which does not take into account how very different conditions they have had. They are offered equal treatment but without understanding how structural conditions are making it impossible for them to meet the same demands as me – and this is discrimination.
The discrimination is not intentional on the part of Danish society, and it could largely be avoided if people were aware of it.
The report describes the human rights obligations that Denmark has with regard to equality and asylum, and the explanations are supported by relevant figures and statistics. In addition, a number of Danish and foreign professionals and researchers are cited. But most importantly are the many case stories and quotes from the women themselves about how they experience their own situation. About being afraid of abuse in the mixed asylum centres, about being in an internship as a single mother, about the fear of being kicked out of Denmark, about not being able to use the education you brought with you and endless other challenges for women in the Danish asylum- and integration system.
The author of the report Michala Clante Bendixen is happy to come and give lectures about the report. Write an email if you are interested or if you want an interview: mcb (at) refugeeswelcome.dk
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