Calais: Migration and Asylum IS a feminist issue.

Cross-posted from: Sister Hex
Originally published: 02.08.15

Ever thought about women migrants in the Calais migrant situation?

All the migrants and refugees in Calais come from countries beyond Europe, such as Syria, Afghanistan and Sudan.

The women migrants/refugees in Calais are mainly from Eritrea. The government there is considered to have one of the worst human rights records in the world. Such is the scale of the state’s abuses that more than 5,000 people leave the country every month. Women, as in many cultures, suffer particular and horrific gendered oppression (FGM, forced marriage, rape, sexual abuse in the military) from which they try to escape and seek asylum.

Female migrants/refugees then suffer particular gendered hardships on the journey to escape state and societal oppression.

Some of the migrant/refugee women are pregnant, some have children with them.

Women in migration or in search of asylim still suffer all the abuses male migrants face, but in addition face particular female oppression.

Women make up about 10-14% of the total of migrants/refugees on the Calais border.

There is a shelter for women migrants/refugees in Calais, but it is always full. The women who could not get a place to stay built a women-only squat to house and protect themselves and other women.


But all squats were closed down and demolished by authorities and one large ‘official’ camp set up. This is known as ‘the jungle’.

This is a mixed sex camp, where women are particularly vulnerable to male violence, sexual abuse, rape.

Women have no separate and women-only basic sanitary/toilet facilities areas here.

The camp is run by human traffickers basically, so women are also particularly vulnerable to being trafficked into the sex trade.


Tsega and her 5 year old son Naher, Calais.

Women have to find ways to protect themselves, but no protection comes for free. Exploitation is common.

Two women have already died at the border this year, another woman miscarried after falling from a truck. Because of the ratio between male and female migrants, women are disproportionally dying in Calais.

One woman died after CS gas was sprayed into her eyes and in her literal blind panic she ran into the path of an oncoming speeding car on the highway.

Women migrants/refugees are real, human, in need of our support instead of the racist and ignorant slurs of the media/politicians.


Migration and asylum IS a feminist issue.

Women in Calais camps: ‘I have to focus on how I can stay alive’ 

This is an excellent source of information – Calais Migrant Solidarity


sister hex :  A blog about women, lesbians, racism, class, politics and art.