Gender-based Violence, Rights

Light for refugee women

Today in Sudan, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo and Eritrea, people struggle under civil war and dictatorship. In these countries, many people are killed and forced to flee their homes. Many travel across the Mediterranean with hopes of reaching Europe.  Still others attempt to cross the Sinai desert, a region located between Israel and Egypt, with hopes of finding refuge in Israel. Unfortunately, many do not arrive safely.

In the Sinai desert, women, men and children often fall victim to human trafficking and are forced to live in camps as sex slaves where they are repeatedly brutalized. Women who escape to Israel are often pregnant and completely lack access to medical care. Criminal gangs enslave and torture refugees and force their families to pay expensive ransoms to keep them alive. Life for refugees is difficult and, to make matters worse, government support is limited.

The lack of a political agenda to uphold rights for refugees contributes to the violence and leaves many homeless – and women are the most vulnerable.

In the midst of darkness, there is hope.

Many grassroots initiatives and civil society work to empower women. Without the dedicated help of these organizations, the situation for refugee women would be much worse.

For example, The Eritrean Women’s Community Center hopes to establish an emergency phone line for refugee women who have been victims of sexual assault. Similarly, the kuchinate initiative, a cooperation between various NGOs in Israel, aims to let women design and sell handmade goods. The initiative aims not only to empower women to provide for themselves and their children, but also to develop their skills in handicraft, business and marketing. Still other NGOs empower women through maternal health and family planning programs.

What can you do?

  • Act now: All these organizations need support from volunteers and international workers. Therefore, I recommend everyone reading this blog to contact one of these organizations in Israel and offer your help. They will welcome you.
  • Donate: Additional funds enable these organizations to continue supporting refugees in their area.

Want to learn more? Watch these amazing documentaries:

Cover image c/o UNHCR.