Which concepts for the protection against gender-based violence do already exist in refugee shelters?

Minimum standards for accommodating women and vulnerable persons

As a result of years of cooperation between the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (BMFSFJ), UNICEF, welfare associations, the German Network and Coordination Office Against Trafficking In Human Beings (KOK), the Association of Women’s Shelters and many other partners, the implementation of the “Second Act for an Improved Enforcement of the Obligation to Leave the Country” (the so-called “Geordnete Rückkehr-Gesetz”, which primarily aims at facilitating deportation) also involved adding a clause under section 44, sentence 2a of the Asylum Act, which stipulates that each German state shall take appropriate accommodation measures in order to ensure the protection of women and vulnerable person.

The group of persons as defined by this provision includes, according to the explanatory memorandum, not only women, but also minors, disabled persons, elderly persons, pregnant women, LGBTI persons, single mothers with underage children, victims of human trafficking, persons with severe physical illnesses, persons with psychological illnesses and persons who have suffered torture, rape or other forms of severe psychological, physical or sexual violence, for example, victims of gender-specific violence, female genital mutilation, forced marriage, or victims of violence based on sexual, gender-specific, racist or religious motives.

In 2016, the nationwide “Minimum Standards for the Protection of Refugees and Migrants in Refugee Accommodation Centres” were established for the first time and have now already been published in a third and significantly extended edition:

www.bmfsfj.de/blob/117472/bc24218511eaa3327fda2f2e8890bb79/mindeststandards-zum-schutz-von-gefluechteten-menschen-in-fluechtlingsunterkuenften-data.pdf

These minimum standards provide guidelines for developing and implementing internal protection concepts for refugee accommodations. Many German states have developed their own concepts for protection against violence, which are partly mandatory for the organisations operating the accommodation facilities, but remain rather vague when it comes to their implementation. Often, for example, they draw on formulations like “generally”, “if possible”, “if not possible, other solutions shall be applied”.

The responsibility for the appropriate implementation of the protection concepts lies on the managing directors of each accommodation. To effectively support the women, however, it is extremely helpful when other stakeholders as well are familiar with the protection concepts – also to create awareness of the fact that in each accommodation facility there has to be a clearly defined contact person that victims of violent abuse or sexualised violence can approach.

An overview of concepts for the protection against violence can be found on the following website:
https://www.gewaltschutz-gu.de/