Claim women in refugee centres being ‘re-victimised’ by men seeking sex

WOMEN seeking asylum here are being “re-victimised” by men who are propositioning them for sex outside their state-provided accommodation.

The growing problem is being reported by women to staff at both Mayo and Galway rape crisis centres.

Aoibheann McCann, acting director of the Galway Rape Crisis Centre, said vulnerable woman were increasingly faced with men putting pressure on them to have sex.

She said the woman had usually been raped in their country of origin, but were now facing additional trauma here — from Irish men as well as men of other nationalities.

“This is a huge issue. We are increasingly and repeatedly being told that woman are being propositioned outside direct provision centres. Everyone knows where they are and for this reason they are vulnerable — they are almost being stalked by these men.”

Recent figures released by the Galway Rape Crisis Centre show that 20% of those who report rape and abuse are asylum seekers.

Ms McCann said a high percentage of those raped had been assaulted by members of the militia in their own country and for this reason, were very weary of law enforcement officials.

Said men who are approaching the woman are often threatened with deportation and are “very afraid”.

“They were raped in their own country and now fear being raped here,” she said, adding that younger women were being particularly targeted.

Another issue the woman face is that they are frequently disbelieved.

“They are questioned by the state in a very insensitive way, the last thing anyone should do is treat them like that,” Ms McCann said.

“Rape is a crime of power, we are trying to reconnect them with community. Living in direct provision does not help, it is a very institutionalised way of living and some women finding themselves stuck in these centres for years.”

Fine Gael Senator, Fidelma Healy Eames, said the scandal of women and children being solicited for prostitution outside their places of refuge must be addressed without delay.

“The GRCC reports that men who prey outside hostels and asylum centres seek to exploit immigrant women’s vulnerability, in the full knowledge of their dismal financial status, by promising work and a better way of life.

“The abhorrent practice of immigrant women and children being targeted for prostitution and trafficking outside hostels and direct provision centres in Galway, and around the country, must be dealt with through random Garda patrols in the vicinity of these facilities.

“It costs the State €27,000 to keep an asylum seeker in direct provision accommodation every year.

“I believe a safer and less expensive alternative would be for the Department of Justice to provide an allowance equivalent to the dole, plus rent allowance, through the social welfare system which would enable asylum seekers to keep themselves.

“This would cost in the region of €18,000 per person per year, a saving for the State of €9,000 a year. It would also facilitate a more dignified and safer way of life.”

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