Violence against women
... is a common social problem. A recent study by the European Union shows, that every third woman in the European Union has experienced physical or sexual violence. With 35 % Germany is even above the average percentage of the 28 EU member states. There remains a lot to do in campaigning public awareness, preventing violence and establishing a help system for the concerned women.
Migrant women are particularly helpless regarding spousal abuse or partner violence. Many have no social or familial network from whom they could ask for help. Some women have difficulties in finding professional support due to their little knowledge of the German language, while many women who are new in Germany are not aware of the existing counseling programs and help system for victims of violence. It is therefore the main focus of FIM to give support and counseling to female migrants who have experienced violence.
The vulnerability of women to become victims of domestic violence increase due to several structural factors such as a low education and qualification level, unemployment, poverty, a precarious residence status and the lack of social network. A cultural background in which violence is common in everyday life, especially in the upbringing of the youth, also increases their subjection to violence.
In many cases it is problematic for migrant women to leave their violent husband because of the risk of losing their residence permit. In Germany, the residence permit for spouses is connected to the so called “Ehebestandszeit”, which means that the marriage has to last at least three years in Germany before the spouse becomes entitled to their own residence permit. This has grave consequences for many women: In order to keep their resident permit, they rather opt against a separation and endure the physical and psychological violence of their husbands. These men know their foreign wives’ dependency and some exploit it.
There is a legal provision in cases of hardship that allows these women to be issued of residence permit based on some exceptions. However, the obstacles are high and thus, many women do not dare to end their marriage. In most cases, returning to their country of origin is not considered an option because their families at home are often dependent on the financial support from Germany and besides, a return would mean a failure towards the family expectations