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This paper derives from a larger research on gender-based violence and precarity in the forced migration journeys of asylum-seeking women transiting through the Eastern Mediterranean route and arriving in Greece, in the tumultuous, second decade of the 21st century. In this paper we present the findings from the first phase of the research. We analyze and discuss the opinions and information gathered through semi-structured interviews with twenty key informants: service providers, staff of international and national NGOs, local government staff and public officials. Adopting a feminist and intersectional approach our analysis shows that violence and precarity are co-constituted and reinforce each other through the undermining of the citizenship status of asylum seekers and the inscription, on their bodies and lives, of unequal gendered social and institutional power relations.
This paper derives from a larger study seeking to understand gender-based violence GBV and precarity in the forced migration journeys of asylum-seeking women arriving in, transiting through, and staying in Greece -an EU member state-in the tumultuous, second decade of the 21st century. The present paper draws upon the perspectives of twenty key informants representing local government, NGO frontline workers and executive officers, community leaders, and IGO staff on the dimensions of precarity and risk of GBV, in the lives of asylum seekers.
The time and place of our research are marked by a great historical confluence of several co-occurring crizes, affecting one another: an international humanitarian crisis, a regional EU crisis and a national Greek multi-dimensional—economic, social, and political—crisis.
At the same time, Greece was undergoing its own crisis which presented as a sovereign debt problem in and was perceived as an existential threat to the Eurozone. Through their testimony and opinions we sought to understand the relationship between GBV and precarity during the forced migration journeys, border-crossings to the EU and stay in Greece as a way to better focus our interviews with asylum seekers themselves, in a subsequent phase of this research project. Furthermore, we claim that violence in a forced migration context has gender-specific expressions.
We understand precarity as the politically differentiated spread of precariousness, a condition of insecurity brought about by failing social and political supports which are conventionally expected to mitigate the risks inherent in human life Butler, When it comes to asylum seekers, precarity may be a consequence of states adopting restrictive immigration and asylum policies and securing their borders Freedman, Precarity may well render diverse groups, defined by gender and other intersectional identities, more vulnerable to GBV.
We conclude that GBV and precarity co-constitute one another forming an inextricable nexus in the forced migration journey, especially in crossing the EU border and upon arrival. Gender is a fundamental analytic concept for understanding how the social world is ordered and the hierarchies of power in it. It can also be detected through experiences, social movements, and in texts that structure experience and influence individual or collective behavior. Violence or its threat is central to the construction of gender through perceptions of the relationship of the body to violence.
Thus, a fundamental element of femininity is perceived vulnerability to violence while masculinity is associated with dangerousness Hollander,p. Gender constructions are not only underlying structural and institutional inequalities but also being constantly reproduced through discursive practices. Finally, intersections of gender and age, race and class further amplify perceptions of vulnerability or dangerousness. In line with a rich theoretical tradition of intersectionality in the social sciences Crenshaw, ; Choo and Ferree, ; Collins, we take gender hierarchies and inequality-producing processes as co-constitutive of race, sexuality, nation, class, and other context-specific social divisions and processes.
If violence is inherent in the concept of gender, gender-based violence can only be understood as emerging from material and discursive gender inequalities rather than individual or group perpetrator dynamics Davies and True, GBV is nevertheless, not only the result of patriarchy. The enforcement processes mobilized by patriarchy are intertwined and mutually constituted at various levels with culture, class, race, age, and other relevant social divisions Anderson, We understand women in non-essentialist terms, as also including individuals with female gender expression, gender identity or perceived gender.
This expanded definition of GBV allows us to link acts of violence that occur interpersonally, firstly to practices, policies, institutional and legal frameworks relating to violence, racism, human rights, and secondly to underlying systemic inequalities in sequence. The violence is exerted structurally, by institutions, laws, policies and practices relating to migration governance that either directly generate violence or fail to protect from it.
Additionally, it is important to note that GBV in conflict, flight and displacement are not separate cases but rather the instances form a continuum of structural violence Krause, Discrimination is a dynamic process penetrating every level of social life -institutional, collective, and individual. Law Society of British Columbia, Forced migration, a historical by-product of the nation-state system, ifies a conceptual disruption of citizenship. Leaving aside the definitions of legitimacy, the system still falls short of equating refugees with full citizens.
All these arrangements involving distinctions among individuals and places where they occur are structural arrangements de Vries and Guild, and the violence their implementation inflicts is structural as well, with direct gendered consequences for individual lives. In addition to being excluded from the protection of citizenship, asylum seekers experience further intersectional subordination and specific exclusions as they may, at the same time, belong to multiple other disadvantaged social groups.
Individual and systemic factors create an intersectionality of disadvantage for them Yacob-Haliso,p. Gender is a fundamental structure of inequality in society based on, and in turn, fueled by a social construction of inequality between men and women. This construction values the former, perceived as breadwinners, protectors, rational actors, over the latter, perceived as passive, emotional housewives and care providers. But gender-based discrimination may be directed against men too. War settings and asylum regimes often challenge stereotypically ased traits of masculinity.
Furthermore, when the gender binary is challenged or sexual orientation deviates from heterosexual orthodoxy Nagoshi et al. Displacement and the asylum-seeking context become loci where homophobia intersects frequently and powerfully with many other forms of discrimination to reveal the precarization and GBV in the lives of these gender minorities.
GBV is often the cause of migration.
It may form the main reason for leaving, it may add on to other reasons or aggravate the circumstances of forced migration or it may exacerbate the fear of persecution on other grounds Tastsoglou and Nourpanah, GBV can occur during migration in the hands of smugglers, traffickers, fellow asylum seekers in camps and on the road, and security forces in the countries asylum seekers are transiting Amnesty International, ; Anani, ; UN Women, Restrictive migration policies and asylum practices are responsible for increased GBV Kengerlinksy, as they necessitate more protracted or dangerous journeys for people seeking to avoid border controls Andrijasevic, ; Amnesty International, There is some evidence from research of increased fatality rates for women, compared to men, in border crossings around the world, suggesting that the reasons may be gender specific Pickering and Cochrane, Moreover, there is a ificant and growing literature documenting the increased opportunistic and systemic GBV risks posed by smugglers, facilitators, co-ethnics, family, police, paramilitaries, and others, during such journeys in multiple geographical contexts and sites of transit e.
Overcrowded facilities, lack of safe and sanitary accommodation, lack of access to services—health, protective or psychological—for GBV survivors Canning,as well as language barriers to accessing services, render women and girls more vulnerable to GBV.
In the EU, state interpretations of the legal and policy framework, including Regulations and Directives on asylum Papadimitriou and Paorgiou, but also varying practices of member states Querton et al. Stereotypical employment casting of female migrant workers is frequent even for women with conventional migration trajectories. The term does not imply illegality Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, as other terms do e. Finally, the term accurately captures the life circumstances of the population we are focusing on in this paper.
We sought to discover whether this precariousness is linked to politically produced precarity and ongoing precarization and how this may be related to GBV. In addition, during the s and the s, activism related to the casualization of work and the precarization of life Vanni and Marcello, ; Foti, took place in many parts of Europe and the United States. In the years following the oil crisis, around the middle and late s, economic stagnation accompanied by high inflation, prompted changes to fiscal and monetary policies. At the same time capital turned away from arrangements of secure, full-time, lifelong jobs to flexible arrangements where firms could shift employment according to changing demand.
Employment flexibilization gave impetus to the new, atypical jobs that were proliferating, driven both by the undoing of the Keynesian—Fordist compact between capital, labor, and the state and by the application of information technologies Tsianos and Papadopoulos, ; Dyer-Witheford, A marked shift occurred as more countries, in the capitalist core and the periphery, started implementing employment flexibilization measures Standing, but also the entire gamut of liberal ideas of free trade, privatizations, restructuring, austerity and deregulation of capital and money markets and especially the labor market.
In global cities, Sassen argued, the jobs of the services complex done by immigrants and people of color, many of them women, are necessary for the working of the global economic system. Indeed, Castles asserts that the inflow of asylum seekers was a prominent form of immigration in the s and onwards as refugees from the Hungarian Uprizing, the Prague Spring, conflicts in Latin America, Asia and Africa and the Yugoslavian wars claimed political refuge and opportunities to earn a living in the affluent West.
Informal economic activities, which had been the mark of the Global South and the southern European periphery, bloomed in the heart of advanced capitalism, marked by subcontracting, temporary work, and casualization made possible by the exploitation of these imperfect citizens Castles, : Lewis and Waite use the concept of hyper-precarity to describe the multiple insecurities experienced by forced migrants in the global north. They argue that the United Kingdom asylum system produces susceptibility to forced labor due to a compromised socio legal status.
Anderson, : ; de Genova, Thus, precarity is an outcome of the articulation of precarious work and precarious citizenship status. Beyond the analysis of precarity as a labor condition Vosko, ; Kallenberg,as a class identity, -the precariat- Standing,and general condition of life under capitalism, the precarity discourse gained, through the work of Judith Butler, a gendered dimension, and an ethical gaze.
Social and political institutions are partly created to mitigate these jeopardies Butler Precarity is the politically differentiated condition of precariousness i. Precarity is politically induced vulnerability.
Common in all understandings of precarity is that the vulnerability, contingency, and risk inherent in precarity is induced by material structures, and cultural norms. It refers not to individual or group identities but to precarious situations. Hodge, : Finally, vulnerability has also been used in the discourse about gender-based violence.
Discriminating border regimes, unequal resources, uneven access to supporting networks, that is the precarization of mobility, exacerbate these relational vulnerabilities for bodies in arrested transit in the European borderlands where different gender vulnerabilities produce distinct forms of gender-based violence. This paper derives from a research project consisting of a qualitative study on the experiences of gender-based violence by asylum-seeking women on the Eastern Mediterranean route. The present paper is based on data collected during the first phase of the project which included interviews with twenty selected key informants, conducted by the three co-authors in the summer and fall of Our interview protocol was approved by both institutions we are affiliated with, located in Canada and Greece, respectively.
Our participants included 6 men and 14 women, all of which are University-educated and some with graduate degrees. With a couple of exceptions, the interviews were conducted in Greek, transcribed in Greek and coded and analyzed using QDA Miner 5. The responses were translated in English by the three co-authors. While our key informants did provide information about their knowledge of violence and precarity affecting women and men asylum seekers, knowledge garnered from their work as front-line service providers, staff of international and national NGOs, local government staff and specialized public officials, records of case histories were not made available to us, nor could our interlocutors provide the authentic first-person narratives of experiences.
This remains for the women themselves to relate in the following phase of research, currently ongoing.
The case in point is made by a recent study of professionals working in Asylum Reception Centers in eight European countries including Greece, which reveals ificant variation of conceptualization of SGVB which differs by age, sex and country of work with some forms of violence not perceived as such by some groups of professionals Oliveira et al.
Finally, we triangulated our analysis with published work: other relevant scholarly research, NGO and IGO reports, media s and government and EU documents of statistical data, laws and policies. To address gender-based violence among women asylum seekers we had to look at migrations in the Mediterranean where sea arrivals to Europe had been rising throughout the decade, peaking in witharrivals in Greece and 1, in total for the EU IOM, a.
This mobilization was to help Greece, on the common European external border, cope with what was dubbed a humanitarian crisis after the borders with Balkan countries, mainly the FYR Macedonia March 9, 3 but also Bulgaria, Serbia, and farther afield the borders of Croatia, Slovenia, and Hungaryhad shut down, leaving tens of thousands of asylum seekers, pursuing a path to western Europe, stranded.
It did make the sea crossings more perilous and uncertain The fatalities in for this route were out of a total of 3, for all the Mediterranean routes - IOM, b. One dimension of GBV, sexual violence, has been examined, notably by some humanitarian organizations, Keygnaert et al. Belanteri et al. We asked our key informants to share their observations and thoughts on the everyday lives of asylum seekers pointing to instances of precarity and GBV, from their experience with them, either as front-line service providers, law enforcement and national defense agents with various responsibilities on mixed migrant arrivals, or their knowledge as policy makers or as advisors.
Our analysis of the interviews identified five loci of interface of precarity with gender-based violence and connected them with the various levels of the larger structures: 1. Transit and border crossing, in particular the European and Greek border, heavily secured by European migration control externalization policies and border enforcement practices; 2.
The refugee status determination process with the uncertain outcome and the associated lengthy waiting period which involves interacting with staff of formal state apparatuses, lawyers, social workers, and NGO supporters; 3. Accommodation and living conditions which are inadequate, both in island hot spots and hospitality structures in cities, especially for the most affected by precarity and GBV. Services are characterized by deficient care and exclusion resulting from inadequacy of resources in comparison to the need but also discriminatory practices by state employees, and health care practitioners.
State protection from GBV is sluggish and poorly coordinated resulting in reproducing GBV and perpetuating and amplifying precariousness for the asylum seekers who are GBV survivors.Saf seeking single male
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