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From Rhetoric to Practice: A critique of immigration policy in Germany through the lens of Turkish-Muslim women's experiences of migration



The largest group of migrants in Germany is the Turkish people, many of whom have low skills levels, are Muslim, and are slow to integrate themselves into their host communities. German immigration policy has been significantly revised since the early 1990s, and a new Immigration Act came into force in 2005, containing more inclusive stances on citizenship and integration of migrants. There is a strong rhetoric of acceptance and open doors, within certain parameters, but the gap between the rhetoric and practice is still wide enough to allow many migrants, particularly women, to fall through it. Turkish-Muslim women bear the brunt of the difficulties faced once they have arrived in Germany, and many of them are subject to domestic abuse, joblessness and poverty because of their invisibility to the German state, which is the case largely because German immigration policy does not fully realise a role and place for women migrants. The policy also does not sufficiently account for ethnic and cultural identification, or limitations faced by migrants in that while it speaks to integration, it does not fully enable this process to take place effectively. Even though it has made many advances in recent years towards a more open and inclusive immigration policy, Germany is still a ‘reluctant’ country of immigration, and this reluctance stops it from making any real strides towards integrating migrants fully into German society at large. The German government needs to take a much firmer stance on the roles of migrant women in its society, and the nature of the ethnic and religious identities of Muslim immigrants, in order to both create and implement immigration policy that truly allows immigrants to become full and contributing members to German social and economic life, and to bring it in line with the European Union’s common directives on immigration.
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... The law, the first comprehensive law of its kind, was a compromise between the Social Democrats and the Christian Democrats. Although it was written, in part, to address the demographic issues causing a decline in the number of working-age Germans and to strengthen the immigrant workforce entering the country by granting settlement permits to highly-qualified workers (researchers, management staff, specialists), it also established specific standards for the integration of the immigrant population that has been in Germany for decades (Clarence, 2009). Although the new immigration law recognized gender-specific persecution, this legislation was not passed without harsh criticisms which claimed that women were vastly underrepresented in the decision-making process (Rostock & Berghahn, 2008). ...
... Although the new immigration law recognized gender-specific persecution, this legislation was not passed without harsh criticisms which claimed that women were vastly underrepresented in the decision-making process (Rostock & Berghahn, 2008). Three key areas of this new law which have specific impact for women of Turkish descent and Muslim women in Germany need to be more fully developed by the government: first, while the law stipulated required language and integration courses for all current immigrant in Germany, it does not address the complex issues many women face in completing such a requirement; second, the new law mentions women and provides basic statistics on their participation in education and the workforce, but leaves unaddressed the ways in which this population needs particular support; third, like other political rhetoric, the law places little focus on the social and cultural environment to which the immigrants are asked to integrate (Clarence, 2009). The Federal Ministry of the Interior published an extensive explanation of the law in which was included the governmental definition of integration: ...
... The common trope of Turkish immigrant women which appears in political discourse, academic research, and pop culture serves to render this population as homogeneous, religiously conservative, and reluctant to adapt to German culture. While honor crimes, forced marriages, and gender oppression have become major issues in the German political and feminist agendas, painting all Turkish women's identity with the broad brushstrokes of patriarchal cultural oppression serves to render invisible the oppression these women experience outside of these communities and at the hands of Germans themselves (Clarence, 2009;Rostock & Berghahn, 2008;Rottmann & Marx Ferree, 2008). According to the Forum for Female Migrants in Berlin (2009), female migrants do experience different problems than their male counterparts: ...
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Recent studies show that ethnic economies are an increasingly vital part of the larger national economy. This is especially true in the case of the Turkish ethnic economy in Germany. This article sheds light on a 'hidden aspect' of Berlin's Turkish ethnic economy: the structure and role of Turkish female labour and female self-employment. It begins with a general discussion on the significance of the gender concept in the international debate on ethnic economies - including findings on minority and immigrant women in self-employment in Europe. The second section of the article focuses on Berlin, using an analysis of the official labour market data at hand to sketch the gendered structure of Berlin's labour market. The third section presents exploratory empirical data concentrating exclusively on female Turkish entrepreneurs and employees. The results indicate that some of the gendered traits of the ethnic economies described in the international literature also appear in the Berlin survey: the under-representation of women as entrepreneurs and their difficult position in the overall labour market. Furthermore, the data suggest that the concept of 'ethnic business' as typically presented in the literature turns out to be a 'male' concept and is hardly applicable to the case of the Turkish women in Berlin. The common features of the concept (ethnic clientele, suppliers, labour or involved kin, orientation towards the ethnic community) applied only partially to the Turkish women entrepreneurs.
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Immigrant women to Western Europe, especially those originating from Islamic countries, have been turned into icons of cultural difference by the general discourse on immigration. They are not recognized as actors in a changing society, just as society's changes through immigrants tend to be denied. This obscures the work and the accomplishments of women in the course of their immigration. Focusing on a biographical interview with a Turkish woman who came to Germany as a ‘guest worker’ in 1972, the social history of this labour migration is outlined. Instances of ‘biographical work’ in the interview are discussed, pointing out the transformation potential of immigrant women's biographies.
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This paper deals with the impact of the formal principle of membership on the public and scholarly narratives of immigrants' presence in society. It argues that 'ghetto' is a root metaphor of German political culture and explores how this concept, which situates minorities in stigmatised ethno-cultural sites in the city, confines the frameworks and the terminology of immigration debates and the representation of immigrants in the social imaginary in Germany. The ghetto trope of immigrant discourse in Berlin reduces the inscription of difference and belonging in urban space to a simple model of seclusion based on ethnic ties. This constructs a blindness to the transnational spaces of German Turks which provide an arena for the reimagination and negotiation of Turkish immigrants' sociality and belonging to Berlin beyond the given categories of ethnicity and community.
Notes on Contributors Introduction: European Integration, Migration and Processes of Inclusion and Exclusion, Dietrich Thranhardt and Robert Miles Part 1: Conceptual Perspectives: Towards a New International Migration Regime: Globalisation, Migration and the internationalisation of the State, Henk Overbeek European Citizenship, European Identity and Migrants: Towards the Post-national State?, Marco Martiniello Migrants as a Security Problem: Dangers of 'Securitising' Societal Issues, Jef Huysmans. Part 2: Case Studies in the Dynamics of Inclusion and Exclusion: Loss of Control: the Build-up of a European Migration and Asylum Regime, Bernhard Santel Moving between Bogus and Bonafide: The Policing of Inclusion and Exclusion in Europe, Monica den Boer Asylum Seekers, Refugees and the European Union: Case Studies of the UK and France, He1ene Lambert The Logic of Contradiction: Migration Control in Italy and France, 1980-1993, John Foot Refugees in Sweden: Inclusion and Exclusion in the Welfare State, Hans Ring Boundaries of Welfare States: Immigrants and Social Rights on the National and Supranational Level, Thomas Faist.
This article compares the impact of post-war immigration on citizenship in three Western states: the United States, Germany and Great Britain. While focusing on national variations in the immigration-citizenship relationship, this comparison suggests some general implications for the institution of citizenship in liberal states: citizenship remains indispensable for integrating immigrants; the content of citizenship may change, in deviation from nationhood traditions; and citizenship is becoming increasingly multicultural.
Using the UK Fourth National Survey of Ethnic Minorities, we document differences in integration patterns between Muslims and non-Muslims. We find that Muslims integrate less and more slowly than non-Muslims. In terms of estimated probability of having a strong religious identity, a Muslim born in the UK and having spent there more than 30 years is comparable with a non-Muslim just arrived in the country. Moreover, higher levels of income as well as higher on-the-job qualifications seem to be associated with a stronger religious identity for Muslim immigrants only. Finally, we find no evidence that segregated neighborhoods breed intense religious and cultural identities for ethnic minorities, in general, and, in particular, for Muslims. (JEL: A14, J15) (c) 2008 by the European Economic Association.
Abuse and Germany's Muslim women'. Available online at: http://www
  • Rachel Elbaum
Elbaum, Rachel. 2006. 'Abuse and Germany's Muslim women'. Available online at: islam_in_europe/print/1/dis... [Accessed 8 September 2009].
New nationalism " and xenophobia in the European Union: Is the future of immigration under threat? A German Case Study
  • Sherran Clarence
Clarence, Sherran. 2001. ' " New nationalism " and xenophobia in the European Union: Is the future of immigration under threat? A German Case Study'. Major Research Project, B.A (Hons). University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg. Submitted November 2001.