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Germany

Germany Grapples With Sexual Violence In Refugee Camps

Molested, harassed, abused: Women in refugee camps are increasingly victims of sexual violence. Authorities in Hamburg try to react.

Refugee women in Hamburg
Refugee women in Hamburg
Philipp Woldin and Jannik Schappert

HAMBURG — The young woman from Afghanistan was being relentlessly harassed, with men making gestures, whistling and directing other unwanted attention at her in a Hamburg refugee center. Almost 600 people are staying there, and only 87 of them are women. Another 34 are underage girls. The 20-year-old woman preferred to be on her own and rarely set foot outside. Then one day, one of the men groped her.

In cases like these, Angelika Damm, a staff member at Hamburg's women's shelter, is called in to help. The shelter is the last resort for women who don't feel safe in the container villages, and there are hundreds of stories like the young Afghan woman's. Damm says that increasing numbers of women are concerned and afraid. The Afghan is now one of seven women in the women's shelter — whose location is kept secret — who have "escaped" the refugee camp.

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Ideas

The Trauma Of War, A Poisoned Guide For Parenting

As a psychoanalyst, Wolfgang Schmidbauer has researched the psychological effects of war on children — and in the process, also examined his own post-War childhood in Germany. In this article, he warns that parents tend to use their experiences of suffering as a method of education, with serious consequences.

Parents traumatized by war make their own experiences of suffering a core principle of education.

Wolfgang Schmidbauer*

As a young married civilian, British poet Robert Graves describes his mental state after World War I. "Shells used to come bursting on my bed at midnight, even though Nancy shared it with me," he wrote in Goodbye to All That, his wartime biography. "Strangers in daytime would assume the faces of friends who had been killed."

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