A domestic violence center in Meiningen, Germany | Photo: Picture-alliance/M.Reichel
A domestic violence center in Meiningen, Germany | Photo: Picture-alliance/M.Reichel

The German government says it wants to crack down on violence against women in migrant families. Plans announced by the Minister of State for Integration include funding to educate migrant men about gender equality and the law.

"Anyone who commits a serious crime like domestic violence, rape or genital mutilation, will be tracked down and severely punished," Germany's minister of state for integration, refugees and migration, Annette Widmann-Mauz, announced on Wednesday. "We also need to make greater efforts at all levels so that it doesn't come to violence in the first place," she told the German news company RedaktionsNetzwerk

Widmann-Mauz, who is a member of the conservative Christian Democrat party, says €6.5 million will be put into new projects to prevent violence against women. According to the Ministry for Family Affairs, one in four women suffers physical or sexual violence from a partner at least once in their lifetime.

Men educating men

There should be opportunities for discussion between men who have been living here for a long time and new migrants, to talk about women's rights and equal opportunity, Widmann-Mauz said, adding that she supports initiatives to train male counselors for this purpose. At the same time, she said women needed to be better informed about the kinds of help available.

Widmann-Mauz's comments were published ahead of a meeting of experts in the Cabinet today to discuss violence against women and the launch of a new guide for migrant and refugee men. The guide explains women's rights and the prevention of violence and provides information about related laws.

There is no reliable data on violence against women within migrant families in Germany, according to RedaktionsNetzwerk. However, experts working in refugee aid often report that newly-arrived women are exposed to a higher risk of violence, resulting from a "higher tolerance of violence in the country of origin, a patriarchal concept of masculine identity and the demands facing many men as a result of their situation in Germany."

'Violence is not imported'

Robert Franken, the co-founder of the Male Feminists Europe network, based in Germany, welcomed the idea of men talking to men about how to stop violence against women. But he said he was skeptical about the context and "shocked" at the implication that violence was an imported phenomenon.

"Sexism and misogyny and violence against women is a sad fact in Germany and has been for a long time," Franken told InfoMigrants. "We should be very careful about implying that migrant men are more dangerous or violent than German men."


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