Refugee Women During the 21st Century
Refugees face governmental turmoil, political prosecution and natural disasters; however, women are further burdened by their female status, biological functions and lack of attention to the needs of women in refugee camps.
Refugee women sustain emotional and often physical scars attempting to escape from oppressive situations. They are forced to leave, face death or perhaps something worse. They may find these horrors anyway, but they will risk that unknown for a chance at a different life. The first stop on this arduous journey is often a refugee camp. Here, if they are lucky, they are provided with basic needs such as food and shelter. During a presentation by the International Rescue Committee, a group that helps refugees, my fear was confirmed, that the needs of women are not being met. The I.R.C. spokesman said, "Women are sometimes given information on birth control, AIDS prevention and family planning, but it depends on the country." I find it difficult to imagine that something as obvious as birth control is hardly considered or purposely denied to these women. I realize this resource may be new to some women and may even violate traditional or cultural beliefs; however, this is an instance where their momentary survival must be their biggest concern. Women should be given the chance to start over without the additional burden of a full womb.
After these women and children are uprooted, they are often forced to deal with the dreadful possibility of experiencing abuse, rape, childbirth and protecting children, often without the assistance of a partner. These hardships are doubtfully given the attention and resources needed as noted by the lack of security in refugee camps. It is not an easy journey for boys or men either, but it must be extraordinarily difficult for a young girl experiencing her period for the first time while fighting off a perverse stranger in a refugee barracks or recovering from a rape only to discover there is a pregnancy to deal with. Such realities must cause such distress as to make a...