This blog post was written by Hanna Ayisi, an intern with the Welkom Project.
On February 5th, Oasis Belgium hosted a mind-changing program at the European Parliament. The event, entitled “Domestic Violence: The Experience of South-East Asian Women in Europe”, aimed at raising awareness on what Oasis has been working on in the past years.
The program initiated with the display of a video, which summarised the general patterns and narratives of migrant women who eventually ended up in a context of domestic abuse. More specifically, we saw how these women genuinely believed in the opportunity of a new life with the person they loved and were supposed to be loved by. For this reason, they willingly decided to leave their career, family, and stability in their country of origin, in order to follow the man of their dreams. But unfortunately, their expectations often result in total disappointment. I know this might sound as the script for a perfect dramatic movie, but sadly it is what Oasis Belgium deals with on a daily basis. In fact, the “Welkom Project” offers legal, administrative and social/emotional support in particular to Thai women who find themselves in the above described situation and it is at times really heart-breaking to hear the experiences of these ladies.
Personally, I considered the event to be eye-opening because the target was not a particular category of woman. Rather, it underlined how regardless of cultural, social and economic background of a person, anyone can fall into the cycle of violence.
In fact, the debate, which was conducted by the MEP Ana Maria Gomes, began on this note. There were various interesting concerns that were tackled during the discussion, for example, a discussion on the incomplete data available to the public on the number of Thai women present in the country and their experiences of violence. Eventually Ms. Bhuvaborirak, from the Thai Embassy, gave some figures on Thai citizen being married with Belgian, which ranged around 4.000 people and of these reported cases of human trafficking are 45 people. Nevertheless, some of the representatives of the NGOs, present at the meeting, raised the concern of how these numbers are not fully encompassing of the reality of things. They noted that: “No data no provision”. I agree with what this NGO representative said, because without concrete figures, it becomes hard to bring to the attention of the relevant authorities what is really occurring in order to prevent and protect these ladies from the condition of abuse.
Overall, this event was a highly intellectual and informative moment involving exchanges of opinion and experience between different organizations and entities of their experience in the issue and it also emphasized collaboration and affirmation of the willingness to fight and prevent domestic violence from occurring.