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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

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Abstract

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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