Women and girls fleeing war are exposed to an increased risk of violence (such as systematic rape, sexual violence and blackmailing, grooming and trafficking into prostitution and sexual exploitation, visas and permits tied to abusive partners, sexual abuse by men presenting themselves as ‘helpers’, etc.). These risks are present in origin countries as well as in transit and destination countries.
Next to the risk of violence, many are pregnant mothers, or are fleeing with newborns and infants, which means they need specialised services and assistance. Many women and girls also need gynecological and reproductive healthcare services as a consequence of rape an/or unwanted pregnancy.
In the case of unaccompanied minor girls, it is especially important that they find a safe place and get support that protects them from trafficking for sexual exploitation and violence during their journey and in their destination country, and that helpers and services assisting them are aware of this risk.
Update 09.03.2022 [from local source]:
Traffickers and usurers have appeared on the borders and they represent a huge danger!
Exploitation (bonded labor) in any offered area of work is threatening vulnerable groups of refugees.
People fleeing Ukraine should contact/go through organisations for accessing help, and refuse to join random individuals appearing to offer help but unrelated to any organisation.
Young women/girls at the border should be suspicious/warned of and reject seemingly helpful, rich-looking men that suddenly appear and offer car-rides, work and accommodaton. Those looking for work should approach organisations, and should be directed to organisations by volunteers. You can find some of the organisations on this link.”
It’s better to be cautious with anyone offering hosting or car-rides, even if the person appears to be linked to an organisation or institution.
Some useful tips you can follow during your journey, in any country:
- Before you get into someone’s car, take a picture of the license plate, and even a selfie with the driver, and send these images to a friend/family member you trust. Send them the address of your destination and inform them of when you are expected to get there; and when you get there, confirm this to your friend/family. If you have enough internet-coverage on your phone, you can even share your geo-location for the duration of your journey with your trusted contact.
- As a single girl or woman, it is safer to only accept hosting in places where hosts and/or other guests also include women (that is, try to avoid hosting where a single man or a group of men are offering hosting for you alone).
- Never hand over your personal documents, identity documents to a stranger. Always keep your papers with you, and if you can, make a digital and photocopy and keep these with yourself as well.
- If someone is asking you to pay out a sum of advance money and/or asks you to hand over your papers in exchange for a possibility of accommodation/car-ride/work opportunity, don’t accept the offer: do not hand over your money/papers.
The following services, organisations and resources could be useful in the above-mentioned situations:
[This article is continuously updated as we learn about more initiatives, and as more services are being set up for refugees. Please, if you know of any initiatives/services/options that are missing from the list below, let us know through our Facebook page.]
Getting information in advance about women’s organisations in further transit- and destination-countries
The best sources of information and services for the subjects and situations mentioned above are local women’s rights organisations active in each particular country, working with victims of violence and/or for reproductive rights. The networks listed below have members across Europe. If you need any particular legal advice or support services, it might be useful to explore which organisation would be relevant to your questions and needs in the next transit country you will cross, or in your destination country. Identifying and contacting the relevant organisations in a particular county you will arrive to will help you find the services you need and learn about what options and support is available in that country.
Looking for help: transport and accomodation
- It might be useful to find international Facebook-groups for women by women, which have members from your transit country or destination country. Next to English-speaking groups, there are also several groups established by Ukranian- or Russian-speaking women living in the particular town/region/country.
- For women and girls crossing Budapest/Hungary, and especially for those planning to stay in the city/country for a longer/undefined term, the Women of Budapest group (in English) might be a useful community.
- The Facebook groups named Host a Sister and Host a Sister to Safety are global communities where women and girls can offer and request temporary hosting, meetings and car-rides.
- The community of Host a Sister has also created website called ‘Seeking Sanctuary’, to connect female refugees from Ukraine with women around the world offering hosting and other kinds of help. You can register either to request accommodation/assistance, or to offer help. (Only women can register.)
- Since March 21, refugees arriving in Hungary are directed to the BOK-centre transit point. Here, state institutions and non-governmental organizations give referrals to temporary accommodation facilities and hosts. State agencies typically give referrals to temporary shelters set up in the countryside, and non-governmental organisations typically give referrals to shelters in Budapest and to volunteers who have offered hosting in their own apartments. The organisation called Migration Aid operates a temporary shelter in Madridi street in Budapest.
- Those fleeing from Ukraine can use the Hungarian railway system for free with a so-called “solidarity ticket”, and can also use the Budapest public transport free of charge.
The following organisations and groups have set up different kinds of services in Hungary particularly for those fleeing Ukraine.
General legal aid (on migration, official statuses and registrations (asylum, refugee, beneficiary of temporary protection status):
In the case of any difficulty or need affecting women and girls especially (related to pregnancy, gynecological care, contraception, violence or trafficking):
For more information visit https://nokjoga.hu/ukrajna/ or https://emmaegyesulet.hu/ukrajna/
Legal aid for women and girls fleeing Ukraine and affected by sexual and/or intimate partner violence, sexual exploitation/abuse, or those who need access to pregnancy-termination:
- PATENT Association
- Legal aid helpline: 0680/808081. Hours: Wednesdays 16-18, Thursdays 10-12.
- Email: email@example.com
- Legal aid chat: https://www.facebook.com/patent.egyesulet.ngo
- You can write to our Facebook page with your contact details, and our legal team will reach out as soon as they can via chat or phone.
- The Association’s legal aid services operate primarily in English and Hungarian, but when it’s needed, they can get an interpreter to assist clients.
Gynecological, obstetric and pediatric healthcare services and services related to pregnancy, birthing, breastfeeding and motherhood
- The Másállapotot a Szülészetben Mozgalom (fighting for women’s rights to adequate birthing conditions) are collecting all useful information and available services for expectant mothers, and mothers with newborns/infants in this Facebook-post (updated regularly). This list includes all the private healthcare providers that have offered free gynecological and pediatric services to those fleeing from Ukraine.
- Perinatal support and advice for women fleeing the war (multi-lingual): LifeFlower Facebook-group
- It is important to know that all Ukranian citizens that have social security in their home country are also entitled to acute and emergency public healthcare services in Hungary.
Emotional support (psychologists and other support professionals)
- EMMA Association operates a support helpline for fleeing mothers and pregnant women:
- Support helpline: 0680/414565. Hours: Monday-Friday 10:00-12:00 & 21:00-23:00
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- The Emma helpline operates primarily in Hungarian and English.
- If someone needs psychological support, you can find a list of professionals on this link, who have offered free support conversations for those fleeing from Ukraine. (Various languages are available.)
- Cordelia Association has also offered free psychological support to those who have experienced trauma during their escape from the war. (They can also provide an interpreter.)
- Women and girls who experienced sexual and/or intimate partner (domestic) violence before or during their journey, or within Hungary, can contact UNHCR to receive referral to specialised support professionals. (They can provide an interpreter.)
- If anyone participating in the effort to assist refugees needs supervision support in order to keep up with their helping activity, the Association of Hungarian Supervisors have offered supervision free of charge.
In Hungary, emergency contraception (72-hours pill or 5-days pill) is only available upon prescription. Any doctor has the right to issue a prescription for it. With the prescription you can take out the pill in any pharmacy, which typically costs between 10.000 and 12.000 Forints. The closest country where you can buy an emergency pill without prescription is Austria.
To learn about the Hungarian laws and regulations on how you can access surgical abortion, click here (HU, EN). A clear procedure for access to abortion for beneficiaries of temporary protection (menedékes) arriving from Ukraine has not yet been provided. The Ministry of Human Resources should issue a protocol and code of conduct to ensure access to abortion as a time-sensitive emergency healthcare service for women.
If a woman or girl fleeing Ukraine needs pregnancy-termination (abortion), Austria is the neighbouring country where she can obtain it most quickly. For example, there are clinics in Vienna such as http://www.gynmed.at/hu (website also available in Russian), or https://www.venusmed.at/en/pregnancy/abortions/. In Vienna, there are some doctors and clinics that help refugees for a discounted price. You can learn more about this by contacting the Association ÖEGF.
In Hungary, medical abortion is not available (only surgical abortion), and in Austria, both methods are available. Some women use the abortion pill-postage services of Women on Web or Women on Waves (websites in multiple languages), although this is not considered legal in Hungary. Abortion Support Network is able to provide assistance in travelling to a country where one can obtain an abortion.