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  • Gender-based Violence

    Five Questions About the Historic UN Summits on Refugees and Migrants

    "The summits provided a good opportunity to highlight what’s going on, but we were disappointed that there were not more concrete, tangible commitments made that would make a real difference on the ground for refugees and migrants." - Sarah Costa, Executive Director of WRC

    Germany Makes Refugee Shelters Safer for Women – But Problems Remain

    “Often there are no separate living spaces for women and families and no sex-separated latrines or shower facilities,” according to the Women's Refugee Commission's recent report. “Women and girls are vulnerable to rape, assault and other violence in these facilities.”

    Women’s Refugee Commission: Refugee Protection Must be Gender Specific

    "We are looking for an explicit, detailed commitment to protect all displaced women and girls from gender-based violence while in transit and upon reaching their destinations. We are also calling for expansion of legal and safe employment opportunities that leverage the capacity of refugee women and youth to sustain and protect themselves and their families." - Marcy Hersh, WRC senior advocacy officer

    Media Advisory: WRC at 71st UN General Assembly Events

    As world leaders gather at the United Nations for the first high-level summit on Refugess and migrants, the Women’s refugee commission asserts that all responses to refugees and migrants must protect the rights and improve the lives of women, children, and youth.


    WHAT: New York, NY - On Monday, September 19, 2016, the 71st UN General Assembly will convene Heads of State and leaders from government, civil society, and the private sector at the first high-level summit focused on addressing large movements of refugees and migrants. This landmark meeting aims to bring countries together behind a more humane and coordinated approach. 

    WHEN: Friday, September 16th through Tuesday, September 20th. WRC will support the following events listed below:

    The Neglected Stories Of Refugee Women

    "We know that a great number of people who arrived in Greece, seeking to reunite with their families in other European countries, are women and children," -states Obser- "who are now trapped in a very unsafe situation."

    Private Prison Reveals the Truth About Obama Immigration Policy

    “What’s really very clear under international and domestic law is that there will always be people who need to flee immediately for various reasons,” Brane told ThinkProgress. “Those people continue to have the right to seek asylum at our borders. You’re not going to stop people from jumping out of a burning house by locking the door."

    Why the U.S. effort to stop Central Americans from surging across the border is failing

    "There's no question that deterrence has not been effective, and why would it be if you're fleeing for your life?" said Michelle Brane. "If people are trapped in a burning house or a burning apartment, they're going to find a way out."

    Obama Wants to Let More Central American Migrants Apply for Asylum

    "In the very beginning, we saw complete denial and refusal to acknowledge any eligibility for refugee status," Brané said. "They were really insistent for the first several years that this was a purely economic issue or that general violence didn't rise to the level of persecution. I think that is evolving."

    Uganda Green Energy Program Keeps Refugee Women Safe from Assault

    "Girls told researchers from the Women’s Refugee Commission that they face sexual violence when they collect firewood. The stoves and briquettes could eliminate some of the threat of sexual assault in the settlement."

    After the Assault: Female Zones in Swedish Asylum Centers [Swedish]

    Research by the Women's Refugee Commission reveals dangerous patterns of risk at refugee detention centers. [Article in Swedish]

    National Scandal that Women Need to Escape Swedish Asylum Accommodation [Swedish]

    "The Women's Refugee Commission criticized the Swedish system on a range of points, including the critical overcrowding of reception centers. And there are signs that abuse is not taken seriously." [Article in Swedish]

    Lone Women ‘Easy Targets’ for Exploitation in E.U.

    "Deterrence just encourages more dangerous routes or more smuggling,” says Deni Robey, strategic communications director for the Women’s Refugee Commission.

    Child Marriage Increases After Natural Disasters. Here’s How To Prevent It

    “Poverty, exacerbated in displacement, is a driver of early marriage as parents hope to secure a daughter’s future or to meet basic needs,”noted Jennifer Schlecht of the Women's Refugee Commission.

    Harsh Streets Push Female Refugees Toward E.U.

    "We visit women struggling to find shelter and make a living – two key problems the Women's Refugee Commission cites as driving gender-based violence against urban refugees, especially in countries neighboring Syria."

    António Guterres: A Voice of Courage for Refugee Women & Children

    “Fight for a world where women and girls are respected in their homes, schools, workplaces, and communities, where they can walk freely, without fear.” This was a call to governments and humanitarian organizations by António Guterres, while the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

    Refugee Women Are Carrying More Than An Uncertain Future

    “If we don’t provide safety, we’re throwing women and girls into the hands of smugglers," said Sarah Costa, Executive Director

    Mina Jaf, a Voice of Courage for Refugees in Europe

    Mina Jaf was a refugee from the day she was born – in the midst of a chemical gas attack on her village in Iraqi Kurdistan in 1988. She fled with her family over the mountains to Iran and over the next 11 years, they went back and forth between the two countries, often spending no more than one night in the same place.

    Pretending to be asleep, the young Mina listened to refugees from Bosnia, Somalia, and Rwanda tell their horrific stories of rape and domestic violence. She understood that they risked stigmatization and shame if their experiences became common knowledge.

    Mina grew up determined to fight for the rights of all refugee women.

    This Is Why Europe’s New Deal On Refugees Could Put Women At Risk

    “When women feel they have no option, or when their usual protections break down, they do whatever they have to do to survive. And that means from Turkey, some women are selling their bodies for passage," said Deni Robey, director of strategic communications.

    Women And Kids Now Driving Migration Wave Into Europe

    "Europe parallels some of the same issues that Central American women and children face when they make the dangerous trek into the United States. [There], a Women’s Refugee Commission report found that children reported sexual abuse by smuggling guides."

    Closing Balkan Borders to Refugees is Ineffective

    Statement by Sarah Costa, Executive Director

    We are disturbed by the Balkan states' closing of their borders against refugees who have fled terrible violence and persecution. This action will not deter desperate people from making the perilous journey to Europe, it will only increase the already elevated risk of violence to women and girls as more and more refugees are trapped in overcrowded and unsafe transit centers in Greece. We hope that today's summit will restore unity and that the governments of Europe will work toward solutions for the more than one million refugees seeking safe haven.