The Swedish municipality of Falkenberg is one of the few local governments to implement female-only asylum homes for underage girls, after a number of cases of sexual abuse by young boys.
The gender segregation has been in place in the municipality since March of last year after a number of sexual assaults on young girls. The justification for the move was that if the girls continue to live with the underage boys, there is still a risk of sexual abuse occuring.
The former situation saw the young girls in the care of the state rarely leave their rooms for fear of attack, Swedish broadcaster SVT reports.
Head of the female-only asylum home Lama Akkache defended the segregation saying, “staff often mention that the girls have thrived.” Akkache added, “When we had communal living they kept mostly in one of the girls’ rooms and spent time there, but now they dare to come out into the living room, participate in activities and use more of the space.”
Mahbobah Hakimi is an asylum seeker who has lived at the female-only asylum home for over a year and said she was happy with the move. ” I think it’s best to stay with other girls,” she said and went on to add “I am a Muslim and can not go out without a shawl, but with other girls, it’s no problem.”
Sexual abuse in and around asylum homes in Sweden has been a lingering problem for Swedish authorities. Since the height of the migrant crisis in 2015 Sweden has seen a number of brutal sexual assaults and rapes in which migrants can be the victims, as well as the perpetrators.
One of the most notorious cases occurred last year in Uppsala in which a group of underage Afghan asylum seekers raped a young boy in woods nearby an asylum home. The boy, who is said to have been under 15 at the time, was raped for over an hour by the five Afghan asylum seekers who also filmed the ordeal on their mobile phones.
Another similar case occurred in earlier in the same year in which a 15-year-old asylum seeker from Afghanistan was raped in the middle of a field, having only arriving in Sweden a few days prior.
The two cases, which were both male-on-male rape, suggest the issue is unlikely to be solved simply by gender segregation.
Segregation has also been advocated in German asylum homes for homosexual asylum seekers and Christians who are often on the receiving end of abuse from predominantly Muslim migrants. In the past week alone there have been two homophobic attacks by migrants, one in a German asylum home, and another on the streets of Sweden.