Santosh Kumar Mishra 2 1 Prepared for GLOBUS Workshop on Gender and EU Foreign Policy, to be hosted by the UCD School of Politics and International Relations at Dublin, Ireland during 29-30 November, 2018. 2 Dr. Santosh Kumar Mishra (Ph. D.), Technical Assistant, Population Education Resource Centre (PERC), Department of Lifelong Learning and Extension, S.
N. D. T. Womens University, Patkar Hall Building, First Floor, Room. No. 03, 01, Nathibai Thackerey Road, Mumbai – 400020, Maharashtra, India Email HYPERLINK mailtodrskmishrain@yahoo.
[email protected] Abstract For Oral Presentation Several factors (including civil war) have led to international migration and the resulting displacement in many parts of the globe. Most importantly, this situation has impacted the European Union (UN) most which is currently experiencing a surge in number of people arriving in search of international protection.
In the year 2015, according to an estimate, over 1 million people came to Europe. In this context, area of concern is that most of those travelling and rapidly crossing different EU countries are in need of humanitarian assistance, including, healthcare and psycho-legal support. Further, after reaching a final destination, many of them seek asylum. However, not all are granted asylum only some of them are given the opportunity to stay and integrate. Furthermore, most significant aspect of this migratory flow is its gender dimension it has been found that men and women are subjected to different types of risks/vulnerability during the different stages of migration. Women and girls, due to their sexual orientation and societal status, are particularly exposed to discrimination, including sexual and gender-based violence. Other factors, including age, also affect their vulnerability and needs. In the context of the current refugee crisis, this research work is primarily aimed at investigating into efforts made by the stakeholders, including the European Parliament, in reducing protection gaps.
In terms of methodology employed, data used in this paper are qualitative and secondary in nature. They have been collected from books, book chapters, journal articles, etc. Method of data analysis is descriptive, involving desk-based research. Key Words Gender Aspects, Gaps in Protection, Displacement, International Migration, Europe 1. Introduction The term international migration refers to movement of people between two countries, involving permanent or temporary residence in another country (other than their country of birth or citizenship).
According the figure published by the United Nations (UN), some 232 million people, in the year 2013, were living in country of destination for more than one year. Owing to mass international migration taking place due to conflict and other circumstances (including climate change) in recent times, both men and women are placed in situations where they are delinked from their respective places of origin, either in their home country or elsewhere. Because of their sexual orientation and resulting status in the society, women and girls are particularly subjected to discrimination and gender-based violence. In this context, what is of concern is inability on the part of stakeholders to take into account gender considerations in asylum systems and integration measures. This, in turn, results in discriminatory practices 1. It is for this reason that several measures have been taken to lessen or stop such discriminatory practices within the given administrative, legal, and constitutional framework. Governmental organizations and other stakeholders have been instrumental in this endeavour. Nations/regions in the European Union (EU), including European Parliament, have played more significant role.
Furthermore, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), in association withthe United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) andthe International Organization for Migration (IOM), has devised strategies and programs in order to address the issues pertaining to gender issues in international migration and displacement, including plight of migrants, refugees, internally displaced people and their host communities. This is done through multi-strategy initiatives. Such strategies are primarily comprised of providing support to national and/or local governments in order to mainstream migration into development plans, including localized Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Other initiatives of the UNDP in this direction include touching upon relevant issues such as causes/drivers of migration and displacement. Here it is pertinent to note that the UNDP also advocates for/and strengthening humanitarian and development nexus while addressing protracted displacement. Most importantly, investment in resilience-based development programs in order to ensure that migrants, refugees, and host communities cope, recover and sustain development gains in crisis and/or post-crisis situations become key to initiatives aimed at addressing gender issues in international migration and displacement 2. 2.
Objectives and Methodology In the backdrop of the current refugee crisis, this research work is primarily aimed at investigating into efforts made by the stakeholders, including the EU, and the European Parliament, in reducing protection gaps. It considers the law, policies and practice for gender-related asylum claims in EU Member States. In broad terms, the discussions will focus on combating violence against women refugees and asylum seekers in Europe. Also, trends in international migration to Europe and resulting displacement and refugee situations at countries/places of destination have been looked into by the author of this paper. In terms of methodology employed, data used in this work are qualitative and secondary in nature. They have been collected from books, book chapters, journal articles, etc. Data used in this paper, thus, relies on existing research findings.
Method of data analysis is descriptive, involving desk-based research. Appropriate examples of ground situations of displacement in gender perspective in the EU context have been quoted by the author to supplement data analysis. 3. Quick Look at Conceptual Framework of Displacement The term displacement refers to forced migration of people from their locality (or place of origin). This type of migration or movement of people is reflection of social change which is caused by variety of factors, including armed conflict and violence natural disasters (famine, drought, etc.
) and economic changes. In the context of displacement of people owing to economic development, there are two types of displacement (a) direct displacement resulting in actual displacement of people, and (b) indirect displacement referring to loss of livelihood sources. Displaced people, who are forced to migrate and to leave the home place/region they are attached to, are placed in a ruined situation. One major area of concern today is growth in the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) worldwide 4.
4. International Migration and Displacement Growing Concern It has been reported that there were 244 million international migrants globally in the year 2015 2. In addition to this, according to an estimate, over 65.6 million people were displaced due to conflicts and/displacement. This was due to several contributing factors, including climate change and disasters. This trend resulted in a situation which impacted, onan average,22.5 million people since the year 2008.
In this connection, it is of utmost significance that national governments, especially in the EU (including other international organizations and stakeholders) develop long-term approaches in order to address international migration and displacement concerns. Some of the collaborating partners of the United Nations (UN) have taken steps in this direction. The future plan of action on migration issues of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), for example, has devised strategies to continue to work closely with other partners with the purpose of furthering development dimensions of migration and displacement 2. Here, it is pertinent to note that sexual orientation, during air travel (both national as well as international), may itself be grounds for several discriminations. Both women and girls, for instance, may be subjected to protection risks and needs that may be overlooked in/during issuance of boarding pass and immigration/reception procedures and systems. Discrimination of this type may lead to detention (sometimes/often illegal detention) 1. Most importantly, failure, on the part of airport officials (including immigration personnel) to take due account of gender issues in asylum procedures and integration measures may lead to discriminatory outcomes. Over and above, women and girls, at the airport areas/premises, are likely to counter additional challenges while securing asylum and integrating into host communities.
Researchers have found that gender issues intersect with other factors, such as (a) age and disability, (b) leaving girls behind, (c) older women, and (d) those with disabilities. Analysis of research data also indicate that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) individuals face specific challenges. The SGBV, in the context of international migration and associated displacement risk issues, is, thus, of paramount importance 1. 6.
International Migration to Europe-Trends/Pattern In view of the fact that large-scale displacement, resulting from international migration, is taking place the world over, the European Union (EU) has not remained untouched from this phenomenon. Many countries and regions in the EU are presently witnessing upward trend in the number of people arriving in. Many of such people (both men and women) seek asylum and international protection. According to an estimate, in the year 2015, more than 1 million people (comprising of refugees, asylum-seekers, etc.) migrated to Europe. This trend is on rise currently 1.
It has been reported that although countries in the European region constitute attractive destination for many of the international migrants, much of migration in Europe and elsewhere is intracontinental. In case of movement of people on the same continent, it is referred to as intracontinental migration. In a situation like this, there is movement of people, but majority of them choose to stay at the new destination which is close to home. Interestingly, growth of intra-EU mobility has been reported to be faster than non-EU immigration to the EU 11. Further, data published by the European Political Strategy Centre, European Commission in the year 2017 are indicative of the fact that the number of people who have been placed in displacement situations (due to human rights violations, armed conflict and other associated factors) has increased during the past decade.
Much of displacement takes place within countries number of internally displaced population due to conflict and persecution increased from 28.8 million in the year 2012 to 40.3 million in the year 2016. Number of migrants resorting to asylum and protection in another country, on the other hand, has also significantly increased. It has been found that since 2012, number of refugees registered with the UNHCR has swollen from 10.5 million to 17.2 million. Again, out of this number, nearly 75 of the increase is because of civil war and armed conflict in Syria.
Furthermore, international migration poses added burden to the economy of the host country. The responsibility of rehabilitating the migrants lies with the countries around a conflict zone. This particular situation becomes more aggravated in view of the fact that refugees are now staying for a longer period of time in new destinations/host countries than in the previous occasions nearly two-thirds of all refugees find themselves in a situation where they are unable to return to their country of home. This happens due to protracted conflicts in war zones 11. In terms of projections for international migration, Europe is expected to remain as hub for refugees and asylum-seekers.
In view of global economic recession and instability, migrants will keep on moving to European countries in the hope of getting better living conditions. Again, in terms of pull factors of migration, other demographic phenomenons like geographic location of and generosity and openness in Europe are also, to some extent, contributing factors 11. The EU Member States, since 2015, have been receiving large share of asylum seekers.
According to the figures released by the European Commission in 2017, during the period 2014 to 2016, 48 of the worlds 6.7 million asylum-seekers were registered in the EU region. This situation calls for bringing in necessary changes in the asylum and migration policies of the EU. Also, better border management may be needed within the countries in the EU in order to efficiently cope with flow of migrants seeking protection and asylum in the future.
International migration is, however, likely to remain a defining issue for the EU for the decades to come 11. 7. Gender and European Migration Nexus International migration, as demographic phenomenon, has impacted most counties in the world, especially regions in the Europe during recent years.
Analysis of research data is indicative of the fact that some of the most rapid and radical changes in the history of European international migration have taken place over the last twenty five years. As a result of this phenomenon, new destinations, new regions of origin/destination and new flows have come into existence 8. Migration has affected economies of many European countries.
This type of migratory flow among women and men has significantly contributed to development both in (a) countries of origin, and (b) countries of destination. The migration process, however, has posed several challenges which are complex in nature for the governments of European countries. Such challengers are associated with governance, protection of migrants rights (as well as those of their families), linkages between migration and development process, and international cooperation 7. According to recent data published by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), today, there are 244 million international migrants globally. Out of this figure, women account for nearly 50.
Again, women constitute slightly more than half of all migrants arriving in Europe. In this context, what is of growing concern is that phenomenon (in terms of pull and push factors), such as demographic trends, conflicts in war zones, income inequalities and climate change, will continue to motivate more people, in the years to come, to cross borders across Europe. One significant aspect of this demographic transition will be, as cited in the foregoing discussion, increased violence and discriminatory practices against women and girls. It is, therefore, relevant to mainstream gender into the linkages between migration process and developmental issues.
This initiative of mainstreaming is prerequisite for the purpose of achieving desired sustainable development goals (SDGs) in a timely manner. From this perspective, adequately addressing gender concerns is necessary for the purpose of designing and implementing sustainable development (SD) programs in the European region/countries 7. 8. International Migration and Gaps in Protection of Gender Aspects-Contributing Factors Analysis of data on international migration and gender issues is indicative of the fact that violence against women is human rights violation that must be looked into by policy makers and other stakeholders. Here, it is interesting to note that some migrant women and girls do not face violence and discrimination rather they are benefited from migration. However, violence and discrimination occur in most of the cases, sometimes at the very start of the migration process. In some situations, discrimination/violence in the private or public sphere can even act as motivating factor for women to migrate (termed as push factor), although in many instances they may not be identified as such. Examples of such push factors are discrimination and prejudice against some sections of women population, such as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex (LGBTI), single mothers, wives, and widows 5.
The risk factors associated with discrimination and violence against women in the context of international migration become more threatening in nature in situations where gender issues are linked with other demographic parameters. Some of such parameters include (but are not limited to) age, culture, religion, ethnicity, legal status, and disability 5. In addition to the risk factors cited above, several other situations also reduce migrant womens capability to protect themselves from discriminatory practices. Some of such contributing factors are lack of or inadequate knowledge of local language, inadequate or no access to job opportunities/employment, limited knowledge of their human rights and protection mechanism, and previous experiences of violence in their home communities (in certain cases) 5. The contributing factors, as stated above, together put migrant women in situations where they find themselves unprotected at various stages of international migration process. In addition, diminished/lost contact with family members and social isolation are other two prominent reasons behind violence against migrant women for longer period of time 5.
9. Linkages between International Migration and Gender-Based Domestic Violence against Women Countless number of women and girls, across the regions of the globe, face domestic violence. This situation makes them to undertake uncertain journey to a new destination in a new country in the hope of finding better living conditions. Some women run away from war torn cities located in conflict zones in order to escape from human rights abuses, including sexual and domestic violence perpetrated by men.
In fact, gender-based violence, defined by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), as violence that is directed against a person on the basis of gender or sex, forms integral part of international migration process. However, taking up new and uncertain journey to a new destination for the purpose of protection/escape from violence and discrimination at home places them in an unfavourable situation wherein many of migrant women are confronted with gender-based abuses both in transit camps and at new destinations. During migrant routes, many have reported encountering sexual and other types of abuses. In terms of sexual assault during the journey, some women resort to birth control measures to prevent pregnancy 6. Domestic violence, occurring in societies at all socio-economic levels during international migration process, is, today, area of concern for national governments, policy makers and other stakeholders.
Incidents of this type of discriminatory practices occur in European region also. Findings of research studies in the past suggest that migrant women make up a significant percentage of women confronted with intimate partner violence. It has been found that intimate partner violence against migrant women often begins or increases after migration 5. It has also been observed that men, in some situations, resort to violence. They do this in order to uphold their role as head of the dominant family. This happens in situations in Europe (and elsewhere) under following two types of circumstances when men feel that they have failed to live up to a culturally defined role as breadwinner, and/or when they (men) perceive themselves to be less successful than their spouse in matters pertaining to integrating into their new professional and/or social life 5. 10.
Migration of Women and Gender-Related Asylum and Protection in Europe – Situational Analysis Studies conducted by the the United Nations (UN), the Council of Europe, and the European Parliament indicate that there are divergences between European countries in terms of the integration of gender in asylum policies and practices. Disparities have been found in ways the EU countries handle international migration process and resulting refugee and displacement situations Also, there are concerns about aspects of the EU legal framework and implementation at various levels. These are, in fact, contributing factors for protection gaps for women and girls 1.
Again, findings of research projects indicate that all countries do not accord due recognition to women as members of a social group, as mandated under the 1951 Geneva Convention. It is for this reason that sometimes, sexual abuses and specific forms of other assaults, such as female genital mutilation (FGM) and trafficking, are not recognised as persecution 1. Data published by the European Parliament in the year 2012 reveal that women, across the EU region, constitute, on an average, one in three of those applying for asylum. It has also been discovered that these are women who have been forced to flee in order to escape sexual violence, torture and other forms of human rights abuses overseas. Women (including men and children) escaping gender-related persecution are entitled to fair asylum process, regardless of the country in which they claim asylum. Many women, due to these risk factors, are not given gender-sensitive treatment while they seek protection in Europe. Asylum seeking women are, often, confronted with policies that fail to meet acceptable protection standards.
In many cases, gender-sensitive policies are not implemented in practice 16. 11. Contribution of EU and Other Stakeholders in Reducing Gender Gaps Protection It is obvious from the data presented above that migratory flow of people from Syria and elsewhere (affected by war, conflict and violence) to EU countries has posed several challenges. In addition, travel route taken up by migrants carry life-threatening risks for migrants. Several of them travelling through risky sea routes, crossing different countries in the EU, are confronted with extremely odd situations. In addition, such migrants are in need of aid and assistance needed for survival.
After they reach a destination (or final destination), some of migrants, including women and girls, resort to asylum. However, all are not granted asylum. Some are denied, and are not given opportunities to stay back and to integrate with the mainstream society in the country/place of destination 1. Further, another significant aspect of international migration is gender dimension. Today, gender dimensions of mass movement of people have drawn attention of several national governments in European region, policy makers, and other stakeholders. It is widely recognized that international migration and resulting displacement are not gender-neutral.
They are, in fact, influenced and shaped by gender inequality. Therefore, while dealing with situations connected with gaps in protection in gender issues of international migration to the EU Member States, it is essential to ensure an equitable and effective response 1. It is, thus, relevant to research into the issues connected with displacement and refugee crisis from gendered point of view, which is focal point of this research paper. This will enable to assess and understand the experiences encountered by women migrants in comparison to men counterparts in situations of reception, displacement, asylum procedures, and integration. This will also help identify protection gaps, and ascertain the measures that can be taken to remedy them 1.
Most importantly, in view of gaps in protection in gender aspects of international migration, steps have been taken by the EU, the European Parliament and other stakeholders to ensure that women and girls benefit equally from the migration process 1. Its description is presented below 11.1 European Unions Contribution It was during 1990s that the UNHCR (the UN Refugee Agency) formulated first policy document on migrant and refugee women. In addition to this initiative, guidelines on gender-sensitive standards and displacement and asylum have been prepared at the international level. Also, within the administrative and legal framework within the EU, significant and notable efforts have been made for the purpose of incorporating gender-identity sensitive procedures in humanitarian assistance programs. This move is also reflected in the rules of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) 1. Under the CEAS initiative, asylum protection is granted to those people who have migrated to escape persecution and serious harm in their country, and need international protection. According to the provisions laid down in the 1951 Geneva Convention on the protection of refugees, (a) asylum is a fundamental right, and (b) granting asylum is an international obligation.
In the EU region, which has dual characteristics of open borders and freedom of people, countries share the same fundamental values for human rights. There is, thus, need for the EU countries/Member States to have a joint approach that guarantees high standards of protection for refugees. In view of these facts, the EU Member States have committed to establishing a CEAS. Further, the EU, since 1999, has been making efforts for the purpose of (a) creating a CEAS, and (b) improving the current legislative framework 12.
Creation of the CEAS was followed by the initiatives aimed at ensuring common minimum standards for asylum seekers and refugees so that they are able to integrate themselves in the society in the EU. This happened during the period 1999 and 2005 12. Also, in the context of filling the gaps in protection in gender aspects of international migration, another important development took place when the European Refugee Fund (ERF) was created 12. The ERF was a project that was designed and implemented in order to facilitate the sharing of the financial costs of the reception, integration and voluntary repatriation of refugees amongst EU Member States. All EU Member States, except Denmark, participated in the ERF. The Fund is implemented by countries in the EU on the principles of shared management.
The programs, under the ERF are prepared, implemented, and evaluated by EU countries, in partnership with other designated authorities and bodies 13. Further, the Temporary Protection Directive came into existence in the year 2001. The administrative framework of the Directive made the provision for a common EU response to mass influx of displaced persons who are unable to return to their country of origin. This was a significant response by the EU countries in addressing gender issues of international migration 13. In a situation that exists at country of destination due to mass international migration, temporary protection is considered to be an exceptional measure that aims to provides those who are displaced from non-EU countries and are unable to return (to their country of origin), with immediate and temporary protection 14. In addition to the Temporary Protection Directive, the Family Reunification Directive is also applicable to displaced persons and refugees 13. The Directive aims to formulate and implement common rules for exercising the right to family reunification in 25 EU Member States, excluding three countries (a) the United Kingdom, (b) Ireland, and (c) Denmark. Notably, the Temporary Protection Directive (a) assesses and determines the conditions under which family reunification is granted, (b) establishes procedural guarantees, and (c) provides rights for the concerned family members 15.
All the developmental initiatives taking place after the CEAS came into existence, as discussed above, largely formed first phase of the initiatives in addressing gender issues in international migration in the EU. After this phase, a period of reflection was felt necessary by the EU Member States in order to assess and determine the direction in which the CEAS should develop in the future. For this purpose, a Green Paper was brought out by the EU in the year 2007 which became basis for public debate and consultation. The responses gathered during the consultation process and findings of evaluation studies on how existing protection mechanisms (legislations) were implemented together formed the basis for Policy Plan on Asylum of the European Commission. This Policy Plan, prepared in June 2008, identifies and envisages three key factors as prerequisite for success and development of the CEAS. They are (a) further aligning asylum legislations of the EU Member States ensuring more harmonisation to standards of protection (b) more effective and viable cooperation and (c) enhanced sense of responsibility among EU nations, and among the EU and non-EU countries. In addition to these measures/legislations, the EU Member States have come out with new agreed upon rules for asylum protection. This requires (a) high standards in implementation strategies, and (b) more effective co-operation than ever in order to ensure that asylum seekers of both sexes are treated equally (and in an open and fair system) 12.
11.2 Contribution of Other Stakeholders 11.2.1 European Network of Migrant Women The European Network of Migrant Women (ENMW) has addressed gender issues in displacement and refugee situations. It is a European network of non-governmental organisations (NGOs), based at Brussels, Belgium, which represents concerns, needs and interests of migrant women in the EU. The ENMW emerged out of proceedings of a seminar organised by the European Womens Lobby (EWL) in January, 2007. Migrant womens organisations, at this seminar expressed the need to set up a European network in order to ensure that their voices are heard and issues addressed by European decision-makers and stakeholders 17.
The EWL, largest umbrella organisation of womens associations in the EU, undertakes initiatives in order to promote equality between women and men. Its membership is comprised of organisations in all 28 EU Member States, representing more than 2000 associations 18. Another NGO, named the European Womens Lobby (EWL) has been active in supporting the initiatives of the ENMW through the project titled Equal Rights, Equal Voices, Migrant Women in the EU. In terms of objectives, the ENMW aims to promote equal treatment, equal rights and better integration for migrant women in Europe 17. Its other goals are to contribute input on areas of EU policy development that is connected with migrant womens lives, design and facilitate action programs addressing specific needs of migrant women, lobby for and with migrant women to ensure that they have a stronger voice at the EU level and strengthen support to migrant womens organisations (through dissemination of information and training). 11.2.2 European Parliament Displacement situations and refugee crisis, resulting from mass international migration to Europe, has posed unprecedented challenges for the the EUs asylum system.
Largest influx of refugees and migrants into Europe, since 2015, has exposed flaws in the EUs asylum system. It is in this context that the European Parliament has proposed to create more effective European asylum policy. The Parliament has, of late, called for fair reception system for the future 19. The Dublin Regulation is the body that determines which EU country is responsible for processing applications for international protection 20. Objective of the Dublin Regulation, adopted in the year 2003, is to determine which country is responsible for reviewing an asylum application. Also, it aims to make sure that each asylum seeker gets fairer examination of application in the EU Member State. The Regulation is based on the assumption that as the asylum laws/practices in the EU nations are based on the same common standards, they enable those seeking asylum to have access to similar levels of protection in all EU Member States. Asylum legislation/practice, however, vary widely from country to country.
This practice results in a situation wherein asylum seekers receive different treatment across Europe 22. The European Parliaments stand in the above matter is that the country in which a migrant first arrives and subsequently seeks protection and asylum would no longer be liable for processing the asylum application. It also maintains that security measures need to be stepped up. In addition to this, all those seeking asylum must be registered upon arrival with their fingerprints checked (against EU databases) 20. 11.2.3 International Labour Organization (ILO) The International Labour Organization (ILO), establishment in the year 1919, is the only member of the UN system which is mandated to protect migrant workers. This commitment of the ILO was further re-affirmed and strengthened by two international deliberations, viz.
(a) the 1944 Declaration of Philadelphia, and (b) the 1998 Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work. It has pioneered in international conventions in order to address both direct migration policy, and protection of migration workers. In addition, it is pertinent to note that all four sectors of the ILO (standards, employment, social protection, and social dialogue) undertake advocacy and research initiatives in the area of labour migration. Reason behind placing special attention on labour migration is ensuring decent work for all. Also, the ILO has adopted a rights-based approach while addressing gender issues in international migration process 24. 11.2.4 International Organization for Migration (IOM) Gender equality is central to the causes and consequences of migration for the International Organization for Migration (IOM), with its headquarters at Geneva, Switzerland.
The IOM was established in the year 1951 as an inter-governmental organization to address relevant issues pertaining to displaced persons, refugees and migrants in Europe. It advocates and encourages the idea that gender considerations are key for ensuring dignity and the well-being of migrants. Empowerment and equality are pathways to a situation where migration is beneficial and sustainable for all in the EU Member States. The policy of the IOM recognizes the fact that gender equality in migration process can be achieved only with the full and active participation of all stakeholders 25. In addition, the IOM is mandated to ascertain the principle that humane and orderly migration process benefits migrants and society at large in European region and elsewhere. As mentioned above, the IOM is an inter-governmental organization. It, therefore, acts, with its collaborating partners, for betterment of the international community. Some of the IOMs prime activities are (a) assisting in addressing the operational challenges of migration, (b) advancing understanding of migration issues among researchers and academic community, (c) encouraging socio-economic development through the process of migration and (d) upholding dignity and welfare of migrants.
The IOM, today, has grown into an organization that envisages several migration management activities across the regions of the globe. It helps national governments and civil societies by providing responses to migration issues 26. 12.
Elimination of Violence and Discrimination Affecting Migrant Women and Girls Action Plan Needed Steps Involved Discriminatory practices and violence (including sexual abuses) against migrant women and girls are reflections of human rights violations in Europe. Despite the fact that some women do not experience violence and that they benefit from international migratory flow from one country to another, violence can appear at the very start of the migration under various forms for some of the 105 million international migrant women worldwide 5. It is against this backdrop that the IOM, the European Union (EU), the European Parliament (EP), and other international and regional bodies have called for urgent action, at all levels, to design and implement strategies to end discrimination against international migrant women 9. The EU Member States need to eliminate of all forms of discriminatory practices and exploitation (including sexual abuses) affecting migrants. In dealing with refugee and displacement situations, special attention should be placed on (a) trafficking, and (b) other forms of modern-day slavery. Some of the priority areas of action needed to address such migration related issues, including protection gaps in gender, include protection of victims, prosecuting offenders, and ensuring that migrants are integrated in the main social stream at the place/country of destination 23. The IOM, with its headquarters at Geneva, Switzerland, is particularly mandated with the task of ensuring that systemic migration (both within the country and international) brings in benefits for the migrants and the society in Europe and elsewhere. Despite the fact that it (the IOM) is not part of the United Nations (UN) system, it has close networking mechanism with the UN bodies and its other operational bodies.
Also, the IOM maintains working relations with several international and NGOs in accomplishing its tasks 9. In addition to the IOM, the UNHCR has also made considerable efforts in this direction. The UNHCR maintains that while forcibly displaced men and boys encounter protection challenges, women are more likely to be exposed to certain protection problems. This situation arises due to their gender orientation, cultural and socio-economic standing in the society, and legal status. All these factors together mean that they are less likely than men to exercise their human rights. There is, therefore, need for specific actions that support women. This plan of action can ensure that they have access to protection mechanism and assistance, on an equal basis with men, in situations where they are confronted with discriminatory migratory practices 10.
In terms of devising strategies and plan of action needed for elimination or ending violence against migrant women and girls, this task is cumbersome due to complex factors involved with migration process, particularly international migration. However, for the purpose of suggesting action plan, three broad steps can be identified. Its description is presented below To begin with, it is recommended to undertake base-line survey to determine migrant women and girls at risk. This initiative enables policy planners to identify those at increased risk. This, in turn, helps prepare required plan of action/responses needed to deal with the situation. Here, it is pertinent to note that identification process, often, becomes more challenging.
This is because of the fact that women are likely to be comparatively less visible than men in displaced and refugee situations. They, in many cases, do not report protection incidents before the authorities due to their increased vulnerability to violence and discrimination and associated risks (including sexual abuses). Under such circumstances, it is extremely essential to ensure that an enabling environment exists wherein genuine and continuous identification of the situation is possible. Secondly, there is need for formulating and implementing preventive strategies. This phase refers to actual and specific actions that the policy planners need to take in field work situations. Further, it (the second step/phase) necessarily involves identification, assessment and monitoring of risks faced by women and girls.
This aspect needs to be, in the wider protection environment, strengthened, in partnership with all stakeholders. Specific actions required in this matter are comprised of Preparing and documenting data-base of women migrants and refugees, Establishing and strengthening protection monitoring by working with the community around Including gender issues into the system of warning mechanism Taking initiatives to strengthen womens leadership skills (including enhancing their active meaningful participation in refugee camp management and dispute management/resolution system) and Furthering womens empowerment by strengthening their capacity for access to education, safe environment, employment opportunities, economic independence, and freedom of movement 10. Lastly, what is required is addressing individual responses and solutions. This will require specific measures and micro level actions. The first and foremost effort to me made in this direction is to address immediate responses and subsequent solutions. This will also require services to be offered at individual and group/mass levels, including (1) offering counselling and medical care, (2) providing housing facilities that ensure protection from violence (particularly sexual assault), (3) providing relocation options (to other locations/towns/camps) in case resettlement is required 10.
13. Summing Up Discussion presented above is indicative of the fact that in view of international migration and resulting massive worldwide displacement of both men and women, several countries, especially the regions and/or nations in the EU, are confronted with renewed challenges. On the other hand, displacement of this type has its own gender considerations and dimensions. This aspect needs to be researched into further. It has been discovered that during different stages of migration, both sexes are faced with different types of risk/vulnerability 1. It has been observed that women (including girls) face discrimination during the process of international migration. Violence and discrimination form the part of the lives of several women migrants. Discrimination takes place on arrival in the country of destination.
In fact, they are encountered with dual vulnerability to violence. This situation arises because of their sexual orientation and their status as foreigners. These two factors, often, intersect with added risk factors 5. It is pertinent to note that in the context of the current refugee crisis, considerations of gender-sensitive standards and guidance on displacement and asylum are today integral to operational and institutional systems at international levels and within the EU. However, within the EU legal framework, policy level implementations have not been satisfactory. This means that women and girls are, often, not accorded consistent gender-sensitive treatment at the stage when they seek protection and asylum in European region 1. In order to give due consideration to gender-sensitive treatment in the process of international migration, other stakeholders, at various levels and in varying contexts, have come forward to express concerns about protection gaps. Also, they (stakeholders) have called for renewed action for the purpose of protecting women from discriminatory practices they are confronted with during the process of migration.
Some of such collaborating agencies and stakeholders include (a) the UNHCR, (b) womens and refugee organisations, and (c) the European Parliament 1. The paper concludes that women are not guaranteed consistent gender-sensitive treatment when they seek protection in Europe. Gender guidelines can assist in providing a gender-sensitive asylum system in EU region and elsewhere. Harmonised gender-sensitive asylum system, therefore, needs to be implemented across Europe 16. For this purpose, the EU member states should (a) adopt and implement gender guidelines, (b) ensure their procedures are gender-sensitive, and (c) make gender focal points in their national asylum systems. References 1 European Parliament (2016). Gender aspects of migration and asylum in the EU An overview.
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