Sexual abuse in German refugee camps is not exceptional

Are the African and Middle-Eastern refugees in Germany’s migrant camps raping and sexually abusing women?

The answer is yes, but not more than people in other countries.

Each year, about 293,000 people are sexually assaulted in the United States, according to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network.

That number is higher than the total amount of refugees who have applied for asylum in Germany to date, at just over 200,000 people. So far this year, there have been 8 reported cases of sexual assault within the refugee camps. In the U.S., there are approximately 27.3 reported rapes per 100,000 people, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, compared to the refugee camps’ four cases per 100,000.

Unfortunately, rape is the most under-reported crime worldwide, so actual numbers are unavailable. In the U.S., about 68 percent of rapes go unreported, according to RAINN.

Most of the refugees are Muslims, and Germany’s policy has usually been to separate men and women in the camps so far. However, the Daily Mail reported that because men and women have not been separated, the stress of sharing common spaces like bathrooms and showers with strangers of the opposite sex have led men to target women for sexual abuse.

Rape is not a Muslim problem, it is not a developing nation problem and it is not a people of color problem. White people caused a majority of the forcible rapes in the U.S., according to the most recent 2012 FBI report.

Rape is a human problem.

According to the U.N., the top 10 countries with the highest instances of reported rape are South Africa, Botswana, Sweden, Grenada, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Panama, Australia, Belgium, the United States of America and New Zealand. The majority of people in each of these countries practice Christianity.

It is usually committed by men against women, but not always. It is disproportionately high in Sweden – in part due to a broad definition of rape and the movement to encourage women to speak out – but many of the other countries on the top 10 list are also developed countries.

It is not refugee camps that are “rife with rape and child abuse,” according to an article by the Daily Mail. It is American prisons, with one in 20 prisoners reporting rape or sexual abuse, according to the Human Rights Watch. There is no other known place in the world where rape statistics are so high.

Blaming Muslim culture, the Germans or the refugee camps will not stop rape. In fact, it could harm victims of rape or sexual abuse since it would fail to address the true causes of rape, as well as stigmatize the mostly innocent refugees and Islam even more than has already been done.

“Just as when we come into the world, when we die we are afraid of unknown things. But the fear is something from within us that has nothing to do with reality.” – Isabel Allende, La Casa de los Espíritus

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