Critics have accused the German government of failing to enact laws to prevent abuse because the resulting better conditions in asylum homes may attract more migrants.
Thousands of women and children are housed in German asylum homes but many of them live in constant fear of sexual violence. They may have reached Germany but often realize their safety is still not guaranteed. Stern.de reports that the problem is widespread across every region of Germany.
Detective chief Ulf Küch from Braunschweig told Stern, “the problem is, unfortunately, everywhere,” and Johannes-Wilhelm Rörig, German federal government abuse commissioner, is convinced that, “sexual assaults happen in all the refugee camps in Germany,” saying that often fellow migrants are the perpetrators but sometimes even guards or volunteers are responsible.
In the initial draft of the first German asylum package that was negotiated in summer of last year, the phrase “vulnerable person with special needs,” was used as part of a proposed Protection Act for migrants. The act was meant to include minors, pregnant women, single parents and victims of sexual violence.
The proposed act would have been the basis for protective measures in migrant camps. Experts have been calling for such measures for a long time to protect vulnerable groups.
The clause would enact protections like gender separate showers and toilets, but also would create secure spaces for victims, and training for volunteers and guards to identify potential risks and signals of potential assaults before they happen.
The protection act clause was not included in the initial asylum package as authorities had so many migrants to care for they were overstretched trying to provide just basic accommodation. In reality hardly any municipality had the man power to implement the training and space required to enact the proposals.
Authorities said that the measures would be postponed for now but would be adopted in the second asylum package.
The New Years Eve Cologne sex attacks changed everything for the supporters of the proposal. The Socialist party said that the proposal could be shelved permanently as the government did not want to improve the asylum home conditions as it may encourage more migrants to come.
The Interior Ministry refused to comment on the matter but a government spokesperson blamed the Bavarian Christian Social Union saying that they had simply not wanted the proposal to go ahead because it was too difficult to implement.
Johannes-Wilhelm Rörig said the idea of letting women and children suffer sexual abuse so as not to attract more migrants was a “cold-hearted policy” and that the entire situation made him angry. He called it gross negligence for the government to merely wait until the next sexual abuse scandal happens in another asylum home before they bothered to act. “The denial of minimum legal standards is in itself a scandal, ” he said.
Volunteers at the asylum homes are often told not to speak publicly about abuses as authorities fear reports may only strengthen movements like PEGIDA and the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party who campaign against mass migration. Some social workers in asylum homes have had to change how they act and dress because they can do nothing else to stop potential sexual abuse from male migrants. Female victims are also often afraid to report abuse because they believe it could affect their asylum claim.