Feminist Writing. Fourth Wave. For Women.

Afghan Refugees Report Sexual Harassment in Western Camps

Women report sexual harassment, extreme Islamic policing in Ramstein refugee camp

Afghan Refugees Report Sexual Harassment in Western Camps

Co-authored by: Mandy Sanghera

This post is part of an ongoing series of reports on the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan and its impact on women by feminist author Phyllis Chesler.

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It is horrendous enough that Afghan allies (feminists, gays, dissident activists, interpreters) are still stranded in Afghanistan, long after the last Western troops have gone.

It is horrendous enough that the Taliban are holding planes filled with Americans on the tarmac in Mazar-i-Sharif, holding them hostage for what? International recognition of their rogue regime? A huge amount of cash? A seat on the United Nations Security Council or perhaps on the reigning Committees for Human Rights and Women’s Rights? (In our view, we’d promise them whatever they want and then, once our people are out, Taliban-style, renege on the deal. This is precisely how they do business).

True, America and Europe have been accepting a large number of Afghan immigrants, often unvetted, sometimes without visas. We have accepted risk and costs. Good for us. Then, how can we explain the horrendous conditions in the refugee camps both in Germany and all over America?

Sexual harassment in Ramstein, a large US airbase in Germany which has served as an evacuation hub, has been reported by multiple women and by some men who report intense male staring (at women), and attempts at touching. Sexual assaults have taken place. The women involved will never go to the police. They’d be signing their own death warrants if they did so. They’d be honor killed by their families.

One Afghan man in Germany just told us: “One man touched my genitals” and other men 'stare' at my wife.” He fears that these are Taliban sympathizers who are “checking to see if I’m gay.”

Even more important, given the boredom and the long and empty hours of waiting, only waiting, the most traditional Afghan men are insisting that the younger men pray five times a day. An imam in Ramstein insisted that they do so, “scolded them” when they did not, even though no one has a Quran. We fear that they are at risk of being radicalized. Taliban sympathizers or at least Islamic fundamentalists are moving among the young.

People are overcrowded in the American camps as well. This means that people with COVID and TB are living close together with those who are—so far—free of these diseases. They are all using the same, single bathroom. True, people are getting vaccinated and quarantined—but they are also having some bad reactions and do not have access to medical attention. One woman just told us that “there are twenty five people in one room,” no internet access, and “many sick people.”

The food is paltry, too little. Some want halal food.

Over and over again, we are hearing from our women that there is no privacy; too few bathrooms; too few sanitary products. Worse. Human nature being what it is, people are actually hoarding whatever toilet paper rolls, diapers, and tampons there are.

God bless the American, European, and Israeli former special forces, American Marines, and financiers who are carrying out rescue missions, given that the American government has turned tail and refused to look back. We will never recover from this shame—but the civilian launched “digital Dunkirk” will live on forever as individual redemptive actions.

Please help fund our efforts to get the women out of Afghanistan; get them out of the overcrowded camps; get them legally settled in something safer and saner, in Western countries.

Cover photo via @InfoMigrants on Twitter

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