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We need to ensure protection of women seeking asylum – #IWD2016

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Press Release

Tuesday 8 Mar 2016

Independent MEP, Nessa Childers welcomed the vote in Strasbourg today on the need to adapt refugees’ facilities and asylum procedures to the specific needs of women. For this year’s International Women’s Day, the European Parliament focused on the situation of women refugees. Fleeing war and conflicts in their home countries, women and young girls are exposed to various risks and are among the most vulnerable.

MEPs voted on a resolution authored by S&D MEP Mary Honeyball.

“This International Women’s Day we are sending a very clear message that action must be taken to protect women and girls seeking protection in the EU.

“Women make up 30% of those seeking refugee status in the EU and the needs of women refugees have far too often been overlooked. Asylum is not gender neutral and our laws and policies must reflect that. We need a holistic approach which takes account of gender at every stage of the asylum process.

“Violence is an everyday reality for women and girls fleeing conflict. But pressure on asylum systems should never excuse failure to protect women from violence nor should women seeking asylum experience any double standards; they should have the same rights as other victims of gender-based violence.

“Every measure and policy to improve the situation of refugees seeking entry to Europe must take women into account. These measures must acknowledge the trauma of their journey from their country of origin to Europe. The assistance provided to these refugees must be medical and psychological and should last throughout the asylum procedure, taking into account the specific needs of women.

“Women refugees must also have access, as soon as they arrive, to complete information about their rights, whether they concern the asylum procedure or reproductive health.

“Europe must improve the quality of entry offered to refugees, in particular to women and children. The arbitrary retention of women and children is unacceptable. One must also pay attention to the vulnerability of women when deciding to send a refugee back to a so-called safe country. A safe country for a man is not always a safe country for a woman.”

The measures set out to improve the conditions of women seeking asylum include:

* To guarantee thee right to request a female interviewer and interpreter.

* deliver comprehensive and mandatory training for interviewers and interpreters on sexual violence,

* provide trauma counselling for women who have experienced gender-based harm

* provide information about the asylum process, rights and entitlements specific to women seeking asylum.

* provide childcare during screening and asylum interviews

* inform women of their right to make an independent application for asylum.

A growing number of women and children are travelling to Europe fleeing war and persecution. According to UNHCR, as of January 2016, the majority of those arriving in the EU are women and children. To mark International Women’s Day 2016, the European Parliament in Strasbourg is calling for measures to ensure that the basic needs and human rights of women seeking asylum are addressed, including their protection from violence.

Statistics show that in 2015 two out of five female asylum seekers in Germany were aged under 18