sw, Konstanz 26. März 2000

Unite against deportation CONGRESS of the CARAVAN FOR THE RIGHTS OF REFUGEES AND MIGRANTS from 21 April to 1 May 2000 in Jena (Germany), Carl-Zeiss-Str. 3, THURSDAY, 27.04.2000:


A ten-day congress of the CARAVAN FOR THE RIGHTS OF REFUGEES AND MIGRANTS against deportation, social exclusion and isolation will take place in April 2000 in Jena, Germany.

One day, 27 April, will be devoted entirely to the situation of women.

All over the world, human rights violations that force women to flee follow a similar pattern. Women are persecuted not only as political activists, but simply because they are women.

The Congress shall examine the situation of refugee women - in their countries of origin, but also and above all here, in Germany, where racism and sexism often form a fatal mixture.

Women of many backgrounds will report on their work and struggle against sexism, racism and marginalization. In addition to workshop sessions, there will be time and room to exchange experience on day-to-day sexism and racism - in asylum proceedings, in the refugee hostel, in contacts with the general public or in dealings with German authorities.

Together, we shall build a basis and improve our networking for successful resistance against sexism, isolation, exploitation, violence and the threat of deportation that looms over so many women. All working groups at the Congress will focus on improving our networking and cooperation in solidary support, and developing counter-strategies in the struggle against deportations. They will conclude with a manifesto.

Schedule for the day:

9.30-12.00 Presentation of organizations and current campaigns
12.00-13.00 Split into working groups (see reverse side of this flyer
14.00-19.00 Discussion in the working groups
20.00 Films

Organizational details:

Depending upon the subject, groups will be women-only or mixed. We will provide accommodation for women and childminding.

  • Contact address of the group preparing the focus "Women as Refugees and Migrants": Martina Hammel, Moltkestr. 5, D-64295 Darmstadt, Germany, Phone: +49-6151-313720, Fax: +49-6151-665648, Email:

The organizers of the Congress will provide legal and political support for all refugees who might have trouble with "mandatory residence" (in Germany: "Residenzpflicht"), in other words are not permitted to leave the district in which they currently live. If you want to come to the Congress and need invitations or other forms of support, please inform as soon as possible:

  • The VOICE Africa Forum, Schillergäßchen 5, D-07745 Jena, Germany, Phone: +49-3641-665214, Fax: +49-3641-423795
  • Internationaler Menschenrechtsverein Bremen, Phone: +49-421-5577093, Fax: +49-421-5577094, Email:
  • local organizations:

Congress webpages on the Internet in several languages, including registration forms:

Up-to-date information and preparatory material:

Planned working groups or reports:

  • The campaign for the defence of women's rights in Iran supports Iranian and Afghan women who have fled from religious violence in so-called "kingdoms of God", where women are not treated as humans. In Germany, to where the women - often with their children - have fled, they find no protection. Assistance for refugee women in Germany is a focal theme of the working group.
  • The forcible veiling of Iranian women by the German police - in order to make photographs for deportation documents accepted in Iran - and the campaign of the Caravan that has emerged around this issue is a focus of a working group of the Iranian women's organization Komitee 8. März (8th March Committee) and of IMRV (Internationaler Menschenrechtsverein Bremen, the international human rights group of the German city of Bremen) A second, general focus is the situation of Iranian and Afghan women in Germany.
  • The women of IMRV will also organize a working group on the campaign against apartheid in German family law: This is concerned with German women whose partners, African refugees, despite marriage, long-standing relationship or a joint child are deported at all costs by the German authorities. They, too, are victims of institutionalized racism and sexism.
  • A representative of the Kurdish women's movement will report on autonomous women's organization within the Kurdish liberation movement and on the current state of the peace process. We will discuss the impacts of the PKK ban upon autonomous women's organization within the refugee movement in Germany.
  • A spokeswoman of Tamil women will speak about the experience of women in the Tamil liberation movement and their role in the struggle for refugee rights in Germany.
  • The women of Villa Courage (an international women's culture and refugee centre in the German city of Freiburg) and of the Committee of Filipino Migrant Workers (Amsterdam) will report on their work and their struggle against those parts of immigration law that tie the right of a woman to remain in the country to marriage with a man who has right of residence, thus putting her completely at his mercy.
  • The agisra group (Frankfurt, Cologne) supports - mostly illegalized - migrant women who work as prostitutes. This working group shall focus on the struggle against the criminalization of prostitutes by police raids, with the constant threat of deportation.
  • Many women find themselves imprisoned prior to deportation. agisra Cologne will organize a further working group focusing on the women's deportation prison in Neuss, Germany.
  • A representative of the Kalayaan group in England will report on the situation and struggles of - often illegalized - migrant domestic workers.
  • The decisions taken in court asylum proceedings reveal that the gender-based repression and persecution of women is not considered political - often it is even justified as culturally based. Representatives of Antifa Thüringen (the antifachist group of the Thuringia region in Germany) shall examine the way in which women are dealt with in German asylum proceedings. This may lead on to a debate on the tensions between pragmatic demands for recognition of women-specific refugee status and fundamental demands for open borders.
  • The social and hygienic conditions in refugee hostels (mixed accommodation, shared showers and toilets, shared kitchens and the lack of protection against sexual harassment and violence) entirely fail to do justice to the needs of women - both single and with family. A working group will be organized on these issues in the Jena-Forst refugee hostel.
  • In the evening, we will show two films of the Berlin FrauenLesben-Filmkollektiv (women/lesbian film collective): on the situation of illegalized domestic workers and on women's organization among the Sans-Papiers in France.