The ‘Tragic’ Legacy of the Refugee Crisis for Women in Europe

The ‘Tragic’ Legacy of the Refugee Crisis for Women in Europe © AFP 2015/ Armend Nimani

20:48 07.01.2016(updated 20:51 07.01.2016) Get short URL

While European leaders debate how best to relocate asylum seekers and countries increase border controls to stop more migrants from entering their territory, a university professor in the US examines the legacy the refugee crisis will have in Europe. One of which, according to the academic, could lead to a less open society for women.

“It appears that one of the legacies will be an alteration in the sex ratios of Europe — a masculinazation of the sex ratios. That, in turn, may lead to another legacy, a tragic legacy, which is less open society for women,” Valerie Hudson, professor at the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University told Sputnik.

Sixty-six percent of adult migrants who registered in Italy and Greece were male, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and 90 percent of teenagers and children seeking asylum in Europe are male.

Professor Hudson, who has studied sex ratios in Asia for almost 20 years, says disproportionately male societies are not a good environment for women.

The recent sexual assaults reported in Germany on New Year’s Eve by men described by the authorities as “North African or Arabic”, should serve as a wake-up call for policy makers on the legacy a male dominated migration in Europe, according to Professor Hudson who told Sputnik that demand for prostitution increases in societies with “abnormal sex ratios favouring males.”

“At a minimum, women’s mobility is usually significantly curtailed in such societies, and demand for trafficked, prostituted women increases significantly.”

​However, the demographic of refugees and migrants remains overlooked by many governments and policy makers in Europe. Statistics released by the Swedish government reveal that 71 percent of asylum applications were made by young men and more than 21 percent of migrants arrived in Europe alone in 2015.

“All nations look to Sweden as an example of a county fully committed to the equal flourishing of men and women. How, then, is it possible that Sweden does not see the protection of a normal, balanced sex ratio as important?” Hudson asks.

​”How can that neglect be reconciled with feminism? And this alteration did not start in 2015. Sweden’s longstanding openness in immigration caused its sex ratios to begin to become abnormal well before 2015-the wave of 2015 has only intensified an existing trend,” says Hudson.

Looking into Europe’s crystal ball, Hudson sees a male-dominated society in which crimes such as rape and sexual harassment become more common.

​”Given that there are fewer women than men in the society, that heightened demand is often met through the trafficking of women for prostitution. This would be both ironic and tragic for a nation such as Sweden, which has admirably championed the abolitionist approach to prostitution. In fact, that approach is often called “the Swedish model.” I’d argue that Sweden’s prostitution policy and its immigration policy are working at cross-purposes, then,” Hudston told Sputnik.

While European leaders discuss the reality of the refugee crisis on a daily basis, it appears any examination of the legacy is left to scholars, not policy makers.

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