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Middle Eastern Refugee Women Also Risk Sexual Harassment in Europe. Roger Algase

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The world heard a great deal about the sexual harassment of German women in Cologne and other German cities on New Year's Eve by men who turned out in many cases to be of Middle Eastern or North African origin, including a few who were reportedly asylum-seekers. These despicable attacks were totally inexcusable, and one hopes and trusts that the perpetrators with be appropriately punished.

The German authorities clearly made inadequate preparations to prevent these attacks, but in keeping with their country's efficient law enforcement tradition, they were not slow to respond.

However, there is another group of women in Europe who are also at risk of sexual harassment, and whom we are hearing a good deal less about. These are mainly Syrian and Iraqi refugee women trapped in squalid, unsafe refugee camps in Europe, whose governments are doing little or nothing to protect them.

A January 18 report in takepart.com reprinted in the Huffington Post states that, according to Amnesty International, women who have arrived in Europe from Syria and Iraq live in constant fear for their safety. Among other things, they have been forced to sleep along side hundreds of single men and to use showers and bathrooms that are not segregated by sex.

The news story makes clear that it is not only male refugees who are reportedly harassing the women, but also camp security guards, local law enforcement officers and smugglers. To give just one example, a Syrian woman stated that she saw police in Hungary attack another refugee woman for asking them to let her go.

The report quotes an Amnesty International official, Tirana Hassan, as stating that European governments need to "step up their game" to protect the refugee women, who comprise about half of all the refugees, and more than half of whom are under 18.

The report is available at:

http://www.takepart.com/article/2016...ign=tp-traffic

In an era in which Mexican immigrants to the US are stigmatized as "criminals" and "rapists" and Muslim immigrants are demonized as terrorists, while attacks on European women by Middle Eastern men make headlines all over the world, it is instructive to remember that Syrian and Iraqi refugee woman are also human beings who are entitled to protection against violence and harassment, and that their attackers are not necessarily from North Africa or the Middle East.
_______________________________
Roger Algase is a New York immigration lawyer and a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. For more than 35 years, he has been helping mainly skilled and professional immigrants of many different nationalities and ethnic/religious backgrounds obtain work visas and green cards.

Roger's email address is algaselex@gmail.com


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Updated 01-19-2016 at 07:14 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

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Comments

  1. Nolan Rappaport's Avatar
    Roger's comments downplay the fact that most of the men committing sexual assaults in refugee camps are refugees. The report he refers to indicates that refugee women are complaining primarily about incidents resulting being in close contact with the refugee men, e.g., bathroom, showers, sleeping arrangements. Not being assaulted by guards, although apparently that does happen too.

    I share Roger's concern for the female refugees. When I was a Judiciary counsel, I had a very unpleasant confrontation with the FBI officials in charge of conducting refugee name checks. Women were being attacked then too. The camps probably have always been unsafe. I was complaining about keeping the women in the camps for six or more months to do name checks in spite of the fact that no refugee application had ever been denied on the basis of a name check. It was similar to the situation today with Syrian refugees. If our government has no information about the refugees, it doesn't matter how long they take searching their files. If there is nothing for them to find, they aren't going to find anything, no matter how much time they spend looking. And why would anyone expect someone with a bad record who is known to the authorities to give his right name? But I couldn't persuade the FBI to stop these pointless name check searches or to expedite them to limit the amount of time helpless women and children were being held in these camps.

    Roger doesn't appear to have gone far enough in his analysis of this situation. If there are male refugees in these camps who are sexually assaulting women, they need to be identified and removed from the camps. If we ignore this problem and let them come here, they will continue to assault the refugee women and then pose a risk to American women when they get here.
  2. ImmigrationLawBlogs's Avatar
    Nolan's comment overlooks the fact that if young women are forced to sleep or shower with men of any nationality or religion, there is going to be sexual harassment. The European governments responsible for operating these camps need to take greater action to protect these women, instead of regarding them as dangerous or undesirable because of the racism and Islamophobia which is being promoted by right wing nativist and neo-fascist politicians in that continent, and by Donald Trump and some other anti-immigrant politicians here in America.

    Women are not the only refugees at risk in these squalid, deplorable conditions. From all the reports I have seen the conditions in the camp at Calais are particularly horrible and, with the onset of winter, many children are in danger.

    No one should ignore security considerations, but they need to be balanced with humanitarian factors and basic reality. There are estimated to be at least a million Syrian and other Middle Eastern and North African refugees in Germany. Should they, especially the women and children, all be held responsible for the actions of a comparative handful of hoodlums in some German cities on New Year's eve, only a few of whom have actually been identified as asylum seekers?

    Did these refugee women and children carry out the horrible Paris attacks, for which no Syrian refugees at all have actually been implicated, at least according to the information I have seen in the media so far?

    Were the despicable San Bernadino attacks carried out by refugees? America has taken in hundreds of thousands of refugees over the past several decades from many different countries, not all of whom were friendly to us. How perfect were the security checks for those people?

    I have not forgotten about the Boston Marathon bombings. As everyone knows, these despicable attacks were carried out by two brothers who came here as children of an asylee who was not involved in the attacks in any way. No intelligence known on earth at this point in human history could have predicted that these children would become radicalized after they grew up.


    Roger Algase
    Attorney at Law
    Updated 01-19-2016 at 07:09 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs
  3. Nolan Rappaport's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by ImmigrationLawBlogs
    Nolan's comment overlooks the fact that if young women are forced to sleep or shower with men of any nationality or religion, there is going to be sexual harassment.
    Roger Algase
    Attorney at Law
    I don't condone disliking someone because he is a refugee. But it is just as bad to excuse misconduct because the person doing it is a refugee. Sexual harassment is not acceptable, regardless of the circumstances. Would Roger harass women if he had to live in a refugee camp. I don't think so. And neither would I. In fact, people lose their jobs if they engage in sexual harassment in the workplace in the US. Moreover, I am not willing to assume that the misconduct stopped with simple harassment. Stop making excuses for them, Roger.
  4. ImmigrationLawBlogs's Avatar
    Nolan does not seem understand my comment correctly. I am not making excuses for or condoning sexual harassers of any background, religion or nationality, including native-born US citizen ones who are not exactly in short supply.

    Nor am I recommending admitting anyone guilty of sexual harassment or assault to the United States in any status, refugee or otherwise.

    My comment was about the millions of women and children from Syria, Iraq and other dangerous places who are being blamed and demonized for the actions of men who are escaping from war, violence and persecution in the same countries, or who may be police officers and camp guards in the European host countries. These women are not being properly protected by the governments of European host countries where they have fled for their lives and safety and those of their children.

    Let us not use security clearances, important as they are, or even criminal conduct for which these women and children are not responsible, as an excuse for prejudice and inhumanity against them because of their nationality or religion.

    Roger Algase
    Attorney at Law
    Updated 01-20-2016 at 12:28 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs
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