My name is Nina and I am a legal advisor in the women's counselling team of the
Refugee Law Clinic Berlin.
I want to talk to you about my experiences with the German and international asylum system.
In the legal counselling of refugees, my colleagues and I see the discrimination
and existential fear that refugees and migrants are confronted with every day,
due to an unfair and non-transparent asylum system that leaves one no liberties or self-determination for years on end.
The asylum-centers were not accessible during Corona, the asylum procedures
were put on hold and people were held in a limbo of uncertainty and kept away
with the excuse that they had no capacity. Yet deportations were carried out, despite closed borders and lockdown.
Poverty, civil wars, hunger, natural disasters or lack of prospects are not
recognized reasons for flight. They are just as deadly, but are not seen as reason
enough for people to have to leave their country. Neither are female genital
mutilation and cutting, nor other sexualized gender-based violence.
People seeking protection are divided into categories according to their countries
of origin, regardless of the reasons for which they have fled. This procedure is
inherently racist and stereotypical, with mostly African countries on the list of the
“unfounded” places of origins. If you come from the wrong country of origin, you
are written off from the start and don't get a chance – they won’t even consider
your case to be worthy of procedure.
In our counselling, we specialize in counselling women who have experienced
violence. And this is where the deficiencies and discrimination in our asylum law
are particularly prominent.
When a woman comes to Germany to join her husband, she is bound to his
residence permit, and when she separates from him, she completely loses her residence
permit in Germany. The separation has such serious consequences that many
women prefer to stay in violent and oppressive marriages rather than experience
the asylum procedure for a second time. Separation is already assumed when one wants to have one's own household account, or when a woman has to take refuge in a
women's shelter. Many women and people who have come to Germany through
family reunification would rather stay in violent relationships than risk the asylum
procedure. This cycle of oppression and dependency is supported and enhanced
by the will of the German government in order to scare away refugees and migrants at whatever human cost.
Furthermore, women and other minority groups, like members of the LGBTQA+
community, face abuse, violence and discrimination while fleeing and during their
asylum procedure. Their special needs are disregarded, and they have to fulfill
certain sexist, homophobic, transphobic or racist stereotypes to get the support
and help they need.
World Refugee Day is a special day because we are here to use our privileges as
Europeans and as legal residents of this country to draw attention to people who
have no lobby or representation in the public eye.
The situation is dire in all of the European countries, despite the EU’s attempts to convince us that human rights are their foundation. The new decision in Greece to not accept asylum applications from refugees and migrants who entered via Turkey doubles down on the vicious limbo of insecurity and fear faced by people in Greek camps.
Human rights are often portrayed by politicians as a cake. One's own piece of the
pie is bigger if the piece of the others is smaller. But that's not how it works,
human rights are based on everyone having them, or no one having them at all.