Turkish Dutch Women’s Health Hinders Employment

February 15 2011

Dutch News reports that Turkish Dutch women have poorer health than other immigrant women in the country, which has contributed to fewer jobs among this segment of the population. Only half of Turkish Dutch women are employed, compared with 72% of Dutch women. Moroccan Dutch women, the article reports, also face higher unemployment and poorer health.

Taboos and Fear among German Muslim Girls

Young Muslim women are often forced to lead double lives in Europe. They have sex in public restrooms and stuff mobile phones in their bras to hide their secret existences from strict families. They are often forbidden from visiting gynaecologists or receiving sex ed. In the worst cases, they undergo hymen reconstruction surgery, have late-term abortions or even commit suicide.

Hardly any other issue is as fraught with prohibition and fear among Germany’s Muslim immigrants as sex. Many Muslim families adhere to moral values from a pre-modern era, and the separation of the sexes affects almost all aspects of daily life. At the same time, young female immigrants are faced with the temptations of a free life unrestrained by religious and cultural traditions. Their daily lives are a constant tug-of-war between two value systems.

Many of them suffer from this contradiction, and some crack under the strain. Doctors and social workers report on desperate young women coming to them with requests to reconstruct the hymen or perform late-term abortions. The elevated risk of suicide among young immigrant women even prompted Berlin’s Charité Hospital to establish a suicide prevention initiative for women from Turkish immigrant families. In a multi-year study, the group hopes to discover why the suicide rate within this population is apparently twice as high as it is among ethnic German women of the same age.

The consequences of living this double life have been poorly studied. Almost no governmental and non-governmental organizations, from family and education ministries to immigration authorities and self-help groups, can offer reliable figures or well-founded conclusions on the issue.

Gouda develops transport for elderly immigrant women

Immigrant elderly women in Gouda have recently received their ‘own’ custom bus to their day-center and to the Korte Akkeren health-care center in Gouda, Telegraaf reports. Moustapha El Baroudi, spokesperson for the Zorgberaad Midden-Holland organization that bought the bus, explains that the women’s inability to tell time and reluctance to be picked up by male drivers made using local transit systems difficult.

Honor violence under-estimated

According to experts interviewed by Knack magazine, thousands of women and girls in Belgium deal with honor-related violence. Commissioner Marc Van de Plas of the federal police cites 17 honor murders in the last five years in Belgium, notwithstanding the so many other forms of honor-violence: abuse, confinement, kidnapping, forced marriage, etc… Immigrant women are also making up an increasing percentage of women in women’s shelters; in 2006, immigrants accounted for 44% of the women in shelters in Flanders – not including their children. Clinics in Genk and at Ghent University also report the popularity of hymen reconstruction surgeries, with around 30 performed at each facility each year.

Headscarf ban not approved in Leuven

The Leuven municipal council voted down a proposal by Vlaams Belang to ban civil servants from wearing the headscarf. By a large majority, only three of 45 councilors supported the proposal. Hagen Goyvaerts of Vlaams Belang pointed out that ethics codes provide for workers to stay neutral during working hours, and may not conduct religious propaganda; therefore the party sees the headscarf as a religious symbol that stands in conflict with this notion. Els Van Hoof (of CD&V) agreed that workers ought to remain neutral, but argued that this pertains to behavior, and not to clothing, and that such ban would be detrimental by making it more difficult for immigrant women to find work.

Belgian women not getting checked for breast cancer

The numbers of immigrant women between the ages of 50-69 getting checked for breast cancer are not meeting the ideal numbers of check-ups. Since 2001, the Flemish government has been encouraging women in this age bracket to get a bi-annual mammography for free, but the agency for Care and Health shows that only about 35% of women between 50-69 have screened themselves after the campaign was launched. According to Moroccan-Belgian family doctor Zouhair Elarbi, there are several reasons that immigrant women are particularly not meeting the recommended checks; for many immigrants, cancer is synonymous with death and being incurable. In addition, baring a breast in front of male caretakers is uncomfortable, even in issues of health. Elarbi suggests that since both men and women frequent mosques in Belgium, that the mosque may be a forum for making sure that women are reminded, encouraged to be screened, and that the imam should play a role in reinforcing that this an important issue for women.

Telephone hotline for female immigrants

A project to help female immigrants in Italy deal with problems ranging from domestic violence to financial and legal problems, has been set up in conjunction go several embassies, and hailed as a success. Maria Gabrielle Carnieri Moscatelli, president of _Telefono Rosa’ (Pink Phone) said that in 2007, 156 immigrant women turned to the service, and 300 omen directly contacted the association.

Polygamy, Practiced in Secrecy, Follows Africans to New York

Thousands of New York’s African immigrants are thought to be practicing polygamy as they did in their native countries, where it is legal; practice is clandestine because polygamy is grounds for exclusion from US under immigration law; no agency is known to collect data on polygamous unions, and many agencies that deal with immigrant families in New York have adopted don’t-ask-don’t-know policy; some men have one wife in US and others abroad; Islam is often cited as authority that allows polygamy, but practice is cultural tradition in Africa that crosses religious lines, and some Muslim lands elsewhere sharply restrict it; some African immigrant women speak bitterly of polygamy, saying they had no choice but to accept their husband’s other wives; many women accept situation, fearing to expose their husbands to arrest or deportation; presence of polygamy in New York was revealed after March 7 fire in Bronx that killed woman and nine children in two families from Mali.