Academic journal article Resources for Feminist Research

Storm & Sanctuary: The Journey of Ethiopian & Eritrean Women Refugees // Review

Academic journal article Resources for Feminist Research

Storm & Sanctuary: The Journey of Ethiopian & Eritrean Women Refugees // Review

Article excerpt

Helene Moussa's book, Storm and Sanctuary: The Journey of Ethiopian and Eritrean Women Refugees, makes a significant and unique contribution to our understanding of women refugees. Although it explores the particular cases of women from Ethiopia and Eritrea, many of the themes explored are useful in understanding the experiences of women refugees from other parts of the world. Hearing the voices of these women, I was often reminded of other women refugees I have met over the years through my legal practice, women from other parts of Africa, or from Central and South America, the Caribbean, the Middle East, South Asia. An in - depth study of the particular leads us to a clearer understanding of the general situation.

I consider this book required reading for Immigration officials, members of the Refugee Board who determine refugee status in Canada, lawyers who represent refugees, and persons involved in refugee settlement work. The focus on women refugees is extremely important and long overdue. Women refugees are often perceived by Immigration officials and members of the Refugee Board as secondary refugees, less important for their role in the country from which they've fled and, therefore, less at risk than their male counterparts. In fact, as Moussa points out, women refugees are often at greater risk because they are more vulnerable and often face the added devastation of sexual persecution.

Moussa's study also debunks the myth that women refugees are "burdens" for the country of asylum, and shows how indeed many women refugees are more resilient and adaptive to the changed environment than men with the same or better education. In hearing the individual stories of these women, other stereotypes break down. For example, although the women described in the book come from a very patriarchal society, one woman recalls how her father encouraged all of his four daughters to get a good education and learn to be independent, and how when she was nine years old he taught her to drive in a field and told her not to be afraid because "women can even fly aeroplanes. …

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