MiMi: Violence prevention for refugee women, children and migrants
The project in brief
Ethno-Medizinisches Zentrum e.V.
Since March 2016. For 2020, an extension that includes a focus on additional topics has been planned and applied for.
The project trains committed and well-connected migrants with comprehensive German language skills as trans-cultural violence prevention multipliers. Trained multipliers then independently organise first-language information events on these topics in group accommodation facilities, language schools, mosques and cultural associations, targeting refugee men, women and youth.
Multipliers collaborate with the German support services system and use their intercultural competencies to act as mediators between mainstream society and migrant communities.
During the first year of the project, the target group consisted exclusively of women. Multipliers then strongly suggested to also include men as stakeholders in violence prevention. Since then, the 'with migrants for migrants' (Mit Migranten Für Migranten - MiMi) methodology was extended to involve male multipliers as well. Accordingly, the training content was adapted to be gender-sensitive. For male multipliers, it now includes an additional component of critical discussion of cultural concepts of masculinity in the context of violence.
What is special about the MiMi violence prevention project is that refugees and migrants are the main actors in these prevention activities: as role models and through their own initiative and commitment, they take responsibility for shaping a multicultural society and pass their migration-specific prevention knowledge on to their compatriots.
The MiMi methodology opens up a dynamic process for shaping a pluralistic society. Multipliers motivate both male and female refugees to take responsibility for their community in the future. Through their MiMi activities, multipliers also increase their own professional qualifications and their opportunities for participation in society. Self-identification with the host society is increased.
Violence against women is a worldwide threat, and female refugees, including both women and girls, are affected in particular ways. Many suffer violence before, during or after their escape, and, upon their arrival in Germany, have insufficient information about their rights and options for protection.
The project aims to empower those affected by violence, to strengthen their potential for taking care of themselves and each other, and to develop self-help structures. It is primarily intended to promote violence prevention in refugee reception and group accommodation facilities, in families, and in the public sphere. The project also transmits knowledge about human rights, child protection and women’s rights, as well as introducing options for protection and individual responses.
Providing support for civil society actors as well as for migrant organizations in their work with refugees are amongst the main funding priorities of the Federal Commissioner for Migration, Refugees and Integration. The Commissioner is especially funding projects aimed specifically at women and other vulnerable groups.
Main activities of the Good Practice
MiMi is a low-threshold methodology, and this allows it to achieve a broad reach: more than 450 multipliers were trained and around 17.000 refugees reached within the first four years of the project. More than 100.000 violence protection guides in 18 languages for both women and men were printed for distribution to help make prevention activities sustainable. Aided by these multilingual guides, which were also distributed to participants at the information sessions, the total number of individuals reached amounts to ca. 50.000 refugees and immigrants.
Multipliers from more than 40 different countries come together in the MiMi project. New migrant networks and self-help structures are created in close collaboration with mainstream service provision systems. Overall, the MiMi approach to integration plays a key role in shaping a transcultural society.
The training curriculum is standardised and subject to scientific guidance by internationally renowned trauma psychologist Prof. Dr. Dr. Jan Ilhan Kizilhan and his team at the Department of Mental Health and Addiction of Baden-Wuerttemberg Cooperative State University.
Over the years, the 'MiMi Violence Prevention' project has trained more than 850 professionals from the German violence protection system in the prevention of (sexualised) violence among refugees. In addition to its theoretical foundations, a 100-page handout for professionals and multipliers was developed by including the results of individual interviews and focus group discussions with women refugees, professionals and female multipliers. Germany-wide specialist meetings with more than 1000 participants and more than 45 speakers were held in every year of the project since 2016. These events stimulated further prevention activities and provided a discussion forum for strategies to reduce domestic and sexualised violence.
- Duale Hochschule Baden-Württemberg (Department of Mental Health und Addiction)
- AJC Berlin Ramer Institute
- Sächsische Landesvereinigung für Gesundheitsförderung
- AWO Landesverband Schleswig-Holstein e. V.
- Landeshauptstadt Stuttgart
- Stadtverwaltung Kaiserslautern
- Fortbildungsakademie der Wirtschaft (FAW)
- Landkreis Marburg-Biedenkopf
- Kreis Gütersloh
- Verband Kinder- und Jugendarbeit e. V. Hamburg
- Bildungspolitische Initiative e. V. (Bipoli e.V.)
- Many additional local refugee initiatives at the project sites
Challenges and how they were overcome
For many female refugees, talking about (sexual) violence is loaded with strong fears and feelings of shame. Women who are affected by violence often blame themselves, and some don't know that they have a right to a life free from violence and to sexual self-determination.
It is a particular challenge for male multipliers to promote the strengthening of women's rights among their information session participants.
Traditional gender roles may seem to offer newly arrived men a structure that they can look towards for guidance, while the greater level of equality between men and women that exists in Germany may make them insecure.
MiMi multipliers already come with the cultural sensitivity required and, on account of a shared cultural background, can reach both female and male refugees much more easily.
In their information sessions, trans-cultural multipliers offer male participants the opportunity to reflect on the fact that lived equality inside the family does not contradict their own cultural identity. They lead their participants in reflecting on the images of masculinity they carry, and on the resulting power relations between men and women. Their core message is: all genders benefit from equality, and freedom from violence is the fundamental prerequisite for a humane existence and participation in society.
Results of the Good Practice
- Encouraging female refugees to claim their rights to freedom from violence and to sexual self-determination, which they are entitled to in Germany.
- Reduces barriers to accessing the German violence protection system (e.g. specialised counselling services, women's shelters and law enforcement agencies).
- Developing needs-based and local support networks among refugees.
- Promoting a discourse on gender equality within migrant communities.
- Facilitating access to hard-to-reach groups of women and girls in need of protection.
- Mainstream society benefits from the enormous cultural and language potential of migrants.
- The evaluation of the project constantly produces new insights and stimulates intercultural violence prevention.
- Long-term increases in social and material benefits for the economy, politics and civil society.
Domestic violence also affects the children living in the household. For this reason, the project will also focus on topics such as non-violent parenting and the rights of children in the future.
Ramazan Salman, Executive Director of Ethno-Medizinisches Zentrum e.V.