The Corona crisis from a feminist-migrant perspective
Every crisis intensifies already existing social injustices and makes them more visible. Now more than ever, we see it as a common social and political task to pay special attention to these different starting conditions, to take countermeasures and to learn from them for the future. The gap between rich and poor, between the sexes and between the more and less privileged must not widen further.
The pandemic knows no borders, nationalities or gender. The backward forces, who have long been calling for more isolation, nationalism and the subordination of women *, use them for their populist purposes. Your propaganda comes at a political time when there is great uncertainty and “stay at home” is becoming the celebrated word of the hour. But: staying at home is a privilege. Thousands of people are being forced to live in camps because they have lost their homes to war or persecution. Others continue to toil in underpaid and high-risk areas in order to provide basic services for the population and their own families. Many women * take on - incidentally - a large part of the additional education, care and upbringing activities and feel forced into a role corset that they had long since banned into the 20th century, at least in part.
As a human rights organization, we take these developments as an opportunity to look at the crisis from a feminist and migrant perspective. Democratic societies based on solidarity are characterized by the fact that human rights endure even in times of crisis. Because basic and human rights must be preserved as far as possible in these times. Otherwise they are not worth the paper they are on.
Alleged women * professions are systemically relevant
Paradoxically, it is precisely these days that the systemic relevance of precisely those so-called women * professions and activities is becoming apparent, whose precarious working conditions and lack of social and economic recognition had to be discussed again and again in recent years. The proportion of women * is 77% in health and social services, but an above-average number of women * also work in food retailing.
Jobs in the low-wage sector, for example in nursing, cleaning, domestic help, or in food retail are often carried out by women * with a migration background. Not only are these professions paid less, they are also very demanding, demanding and insecure right now.
The small and large gestures of solidarity such as thanks on banners help many to cope with the special workload caused by Corona. Migrants usually receive less money for the same work. The discriminatory wage gap based on gender and migration history continues to exist. Recognition must therefore also show itself in the form of remuneration, improved working conditions and social recognition. Employees with a history of migration deserve to be welcomed beyond their workforce and to participate in all of social and political life.
While some are currently working under high pressure, others have to fear for their existence due to absenteeism. Many women * with a migration history are employed in the particularly crisis-ridden hospitality industry and temporary work. Whether highly qualified or precariously employed - barrier-free access to information about employee rights and compensation programs is urgently needed.
Increased risk of violence for women *
However, difficulties arise not only from poorly paid, high-risk or discontinued employment relationships. Frustration and aggression due to domestic isolation, tight living conditions as well as feelings of loss of control and stress are an ideal breeding ground for domestic violence and violence against women *. Of the Council of Europe Committee on the Istanbul Convention observed an alarming increase in domestic violence worldwide, including in Europe. It is all the more dramatic that the restricted mobility makes it even more difficult than usual to seek help by telephone or to use advice centers without being noticed.
There is a lack of personal contact, which is extremely important in protecting against violence. The relationship of trust that has been built up over a long period of time between consultants, volunteers and language mediators cannot offer any protection if all joint appointments and events are canceled overnight. The social environment is less aware of incidents of violence and accordingly cannot intervene or support. This also applies in particular to children who are affected by domestic violence.
The lack of implementation of the Istanbul Convention is now making itself felt even more painfully than usual. The chronically underfunded support and protection system makes it impossible to receive and support victims of violence across the board.
The residence obligation or residence requirements endanger the safety and life of the refugee women * affected, as they often wait weeks or months for a decision. They remain locked up with their tormentors.
A hesitant use of protective measures is also exacerbated by uncertainties regarding residence rights. Women * fear that a separation will risk their marriage-dependent residence permit and remain in their violent relationships.
Refugee women *, girls and LGBTIQ people are already exposed to an increased risk of sexualized and violent attacks in accommodation due to tight living conditions, accommodation of families in one room, and a lack of privacy. Isolation measures make the situation even worse.
Why decentralized housing is the order of the day
However, the increased potential for violence in shared accommodation is only one reason why decentralized accommodation is now absolutely necessary. The rapid spread of the virus within mass accommodation such as in Ellwangen, Henningsdorf, Suhl or Halberstadt and the first deaths in Bavaria clearly show how irresponsible accommodation in camps and centers is.
Many refugees in communal accommodation have no choice but to violate the contact blocks and distance requirements. People have to share sanitary facilities and live together in a confined space, which multiplies the risk of infection. Many people, especially children, who live in these shelters, have chronic and complex diseases. Instead of experiencing special protection as a risk group, access to specialist doctors is further restricted by isolation and the stressed health system.
In addition, the residents are exposed to massive additional psychological stress. In some accommodations there is not even internet, making it difficult to access information or participate in contemporary social life. The lack of internet access in many accommodations restricts the basic right to freedom of information and the protection of marriage and family. The expert opinion we have received from a lawyer argues that as a result, many refugees are unable to contact their families, language services, advice centers or authorities. That is precisely why psychosocial support must be guaranteed!
The dishes in Münster, Dresden, Chemnitz and Leipzig speak a clear language. To protect their own health, they have allowed applicants to leave the mass accommodation - regardless of whether there is already an infection there.
It should not be the case that every refugee has to individually sue for the right to health. Of the German Association of Women Lawyers sees the release of refugees from reception facilities as an “imperative to act” in the current pandemic. It should not be that many women * are afraid to fight for this right or to express themselves publicly about grievances in the accommodation.
In order to protect the human right to mental and physical integrity, DaMigra calls for refugees, especially women * and children, to be housed in apartments. In Germany around 1,85 million beds are currently empty in hotels and guest houses. In 2018, the AirBnB platform alone recorded 150.000 accommodations. This vacancy rate could be used to immediately accommodate the 170.000 refugees in communal accommodation in a manner that is worthy of human rights.
Deportation and suspension of humanitarian asylum
The Infection Protection Act does not provide for any interference with asylum law. In 2015, the Robert Koch Institute emphasized that asylum seekers “are more of an endangered group than a group that poses a danger to others”. A humanitarian catastrophe is looming at the European external borders in initial reception centers. The suspension of humanitarian asylum and the stop of family reunification is a fatal signal with hardly foreseeable consequences for those affected, including women * and children. Actually, more people should be admitted right now in order to protect the people in the camps, who are already weakened by previous illnesses and inhumane living conditions, from infections. If we make the world a fortress and don't take these people with us, we have all failed as human beings.
DaMigra welcomes the suspension of deportations within Europe, but condemns the suspension of the transfer period for refugees. Those affected should therefore persist in legal uncertainty longer than before. The EU Commission published guidelines on April 16, which see no legal basis for such action.
The Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure would like to reduce "cross-border passenger traffic to the absolute minimum". Why is there still an attempt to charter private flights with extremely high personnel and costs in order to deport people to supposedly safe third countries? As the Tagesschau reported that a woman from Togo should remain in custody after being deported in April. Only the district court of Ingolstadt stopped this unjustified imprisonment and arranged for a release.
The multiple social burden of women * is currently becoming more and more visible. On average, women perform, according to one Study by the BMFSFJ twice as much care work as men (gender care gap). In most households they are primarily responsible for looking after and educating the children, doing housework, cooking, organizing the household and caring for family members. The extra work caused by the elimination of social support and care offers weighs heavily on the shoulders of many women *.
According to a current Study by the Hans Böckler Foundation the additional burden on women increases even with those couples who previously shared the educational work equally.
The teachers do their best to still give the children a good education. However, depending on the household, some women * struggle with adverse conditions such as poor or no internet connection. Parents who have only recently been living in Germany and are learning the language themselves or working single parents find it difficult to close the gap at home.
Not only women *, whose mental and physical well-being is at stake, suffer from this situation, but also children. More than 40 years ago, feminists * made the social value of care work visible around the world. Some demanded: "wages for housework!" It is finally time to distribute care and educational activities fairly and to reward them appropriately - through appreciation, recognition, working conditions and material remuneration.
Social cohesion for EVERYONE
Not only women * with a history of migration and / or flight are affected by the crisis to a particular extent. Fortunately, social cohesion is growing and many different people who now need special support experience solidarity. We have to look carefully at who needs solidarity and make sure that nobody is forgotten. People come together via the Internet to stand up for one another during the pandemic and to cushion the consequences of any kind for those affected. From neighborhood shopping aids to digital demonstrations and petitions - people's engagement does not stand still. With all the news about the virus, let's not forget the other topics. The Hanau attack was barely three months ago and the important discourse on racism within German society has almost come to a standstill. It is also a form of solidarity to give these important issues their space and to act again and again.
The gestures of solidarity must also be followed by political action. We demand effective protection against violence, decentralized accommodation for refugees *, as well as low-threshold and multilingual advice. The indispensable work of women *, which forms the foundation of our society, must be strengthened through a consistent gender equality policy, gender budgeting and equal pay. Particularly in times of crisis, it is essential to take a critical look at protecting fundamental rights. The basic rights to human dignity, to life and physical integrity must apply always and everywhere. The Basic Law and the Emergency Constitution do not provide for any exceptions! If every human life counts, it is also that of the migrants and refugees. Hygiene and distance rules and protection against violence must be possible for everyone.
We would like to thank all member organizations and other migrant organizations for the indispensable work that they are doing these days. Most of them are also affected by the crisis and have to reorganize their lives. And yet they offer support and solidarity for all those who now need help. They are one of the most valuable pillars of society in Germany, a country of immigration, and mostly work unpaid. The dissemination of information in first languages and the tireless commitment to the rights and support of migrant women in all generations and at all levels is indispensable in these times. But even they can currently hardly meet the need for advice on the topics of labor market, protection against violence, education, so that they themselves need support and solidarity.
This text was first published on March 31.03.2020, 12.05.2020 on www.damigra.de and adapted on May XNUMX, XNUMX on the basis of more recent findings from scientific studies and surveys of our member organizations.
Alexandra Vogel, advisor for press and public relations
Phone: +0178 962 9274 XNUMX
More articles on the topic:
A TV interview with the managing director * of DaMigra Dr. Delal Atmaca at ZDFinfo in the forum on Friday, June 19.06.2020, XNUMX.
Corona pandemic and female migrants *: "We need support" - DER TAGESSPIEGEL on June 06.06.2020th, XNUMX.
Press release on Refugee Day (June 20, 2020): Solidarity with refugees - always and especially now!
Press release on Labor Day (May 1, 2020): Are we celebrating Labor Day at home because of the corona pandemic?
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