Protecting victims effectively

Protecting victims effectively

Whether domestic violence, discrimination or genital mutilation, girls and women often face violence. Church, politics and associations speak out clearly against this and demand action from politics.

Catholic bishops and church associations spoke out for more protection on World Day Against Violence Against Women on Saturday. "The Church condemns every form of violence against women," said the chairman of the Pastoral Commission of the German Bishops' Conference, Franz-Josef Bode, in Bonn on Thursday. Female genital mutilation is an expression of worldwide widespread discrimination and violence against the female sex, the Osnabruck bishop lamented.

Special protection for refugees

Female genital mutilation is a violation of human rights. It must be abolished and outlawed worldwide, it said. In the course of international migration movements, mutilation is also increasingly becoming a pressing problem in Europe, she said. "Refugee girls and women need special protection, targeted counseling and gender-specific support," says Bode.

People from at-risk groups should be informed about the legal situation and help available in Germany, as well as medical facts about genital mutilation, according to the statement. According to estimates by the World Health Organization, more than 200 million girls and women worldwide are affected by genital mutilation. According to the German Federal Ministry for Family Affairs and Women's Affairs, nearly 50.000 of genital mutilated women.

High maternal mortality in Burkina Faso

The Catholic relief organization missio and the Catholic Women's Association of Germany (kfg) point to problems in Burkina Faso in particular. Thousands of girls are reportedly forcibly married there every year, some as young as eleven or twelve years old. According to the information, some women are suspected of so-called witchcraft and have to flee their homes. Despite a legal ban, female genital mutilation is widespread and maternal mortality is among the highest in the world.

The Diakonie criticized the fact that more and more women affected by violence in Germany do not find protection in women's shelters. "It is not only in metropolitan areas that the search for a free place is virtually hopeless," said Social Policy Director Maria Loheide. In rural areas, too, the supply situation has deteriorated drastically. This is not a new problem. "The federal government must finally take the initiative and work with the states and local authorities to find viable solutions," Loheide demanded.

Looking at the living situations of women

The Catholic German Women's Federation (KDFB) called for more effective measures to protect women affected by violence. The fight against all forms of physical, sexual or psychological violence must be a priority and must also be punished by law, it was said. "It is necessary to look at the interests and living situation of the affected women, to give them more protection and rights and to strengthen them," explains KDFB President Maria Flachsbarth.

The Social Service of Catholic Women (SkF) referred to the lack of places in women's shelters, so that again and again women could not be taken in. "Increasingly, it is difficult for women who have found refuge to subsequently find suitable housing," the SkF continues.

Victims' feelings of fear and shame

From the point of view of the victim support association Weiber Ring, violence against women is still a major problem in Germany. "It is unfortunately a sad reality that women are repeatedly beaten, humiliated and sexually harassed, especially at home," explained Federal Executive Director Bianca Biwer in Mainz. Victims feel fear and shame "often very intensely". The White Ring ames that the number of unreported cases is high, because domestic violence happens behind closed doors.

The Central Information Point of Autonomous Women's Shelters (ZIF) called for stronger protection for all women and children affected by violence. Support must be provided more quickly, less bureaucratically and in a way that is more in line with needs, ZIF stated. There is an urgent need to create additional places in women's shelters and to finance the facilities publicly. In 2016, 475 women were reportedly killed in Germany, 165 of them by their husbands or (ex-)partners. The ways of thinking and acting that are anchored in society and that lead to violence against women are to be fought.

Politicians present five-point plan

Development Minister Gerd Muller (CSU) has presented a five-point plan to this effect. Particularly in many developing and emerging countries, conditions are sometimes dramatic; women and girls are losing prospects in life, Muller said on Thursday at a symposium on the International Day against Violence against Women in Berlin. He also criticized the use of rape as a weapon of war. "In addition, there are thousands of women who have been sold, enslaved or auctioned off."

The five-point plan reportedly calls for expanding refugee protection programs to include gender-specific protection for women and girls. The minister also announced a new project to prevent violence in South Africa, Lesotho and Zambia.

German Family Minister Katarina Barley (SPD) called for participation in the "We break the silence" campaign in support of victims of violence in this country. "Victims should know that they are not alone on their way out of violence and that there are support services such as the nationwide help hotline," Barley said in Berlin. The goal, he said, is to make the help line better known.

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