The Invisible Actors of Forced Migration: Male Refugees in The Context of Representation and GenderFiliz Göktuna Yaylacı, Mehmet Can Çarpar
Zorunlu Göçün Görün(e)meyen Aktörleri: Temsil ve Toplumsal Cinsiyet Bağlamında Sığınmacı ErkeklerFiliz Göktuna Yaylacı, Mehmet Can Çarpar
For various migrant groups, Turkey has been a transit country for many years. However, due to the ongoing civil war in Syria, Turkey has become the number one destination for Syrian refugees, and now hosts the largest refugee group in the world. This transformation has attracted the attention of different academic disciplines such as law, social policy, social work, psychology and sociology, and especially in politics and media, it has emerged as one of the most debated subjects in recent years. As a result, scholarly researches in increasing numbers have attempted to examine the phenomenon of forced migration from different dimensions, such as security, policy, education, health and gender. However, when considering studies examining forced migration from a gender perspective, it is seen that the studies mostly focus on women because they are more exposed to problems. This situation, which is added to the negative representation of refugee men in the host societies, causes the experience of male refugees to be invisible, and the social aid practices directed towards refugees are less susceptible to the problems of men. Based on this point, this study aims to analyze the problems of male refugees that cannot be seen because of their negative representations, and to discuss them based on social work and aid policies. In line with this purpose, the study was designed as a qualitative research. The working sample of the study consists of 17 male refugees from various nationalities residing in Eskişehir and five specialists who are working in the field of humanitarian aid. Data were collected by semi-structured interviews. The findings of the study indicate that some refugee men are exposed to many social problems, like women, such as discrimination and violence with reference to their gender. Male refugees are experiencing tensions because of their responsibility to support the family. At the same time, they are excluded from migration regulations and social aids aimed at solving these tensions. According to the findings, most of the participants have difficulties in accessing basic needs, such as employment and housing, because of the misrepresentation of masculinity of the male refugees. Although providing for the family is accepted as a male responsibility especially in economic terms, tensions arise because male refugees cannot fulfill this responsibility alone. This situation increases the problems of male refugees in the asylum process, while imposing a passive role at home for refugee women. In addition to difficult situations male refugees experience only because of their gender, their exclusion from migration regulations and social benefits makes their asylum process even more difficult. As a result, it can be concluded that social aid policies and the above-mentioned researches consider the masculinity of male refugees as a typical category in the form of constant hegemonic power against femininity. For this reason, it should primarily be accepted that there is no universal masculin ity that is always advantageous over femininity. The masculinity is also shaped and harmed by patriarchy. For masculinity is not a universal category, it is a dynamic gender identity shaped by historical and cultural conditions, just like femininity. In this respect, it is necessary to think of masculinity as a heterogeneous structure. Indeed, males with different conditions, just like women, may also be in exploited positions. Forced migration is one of these conditions. The forced migration process can make men and women suffer. Of course, it is wrong to say that in the process of forced migration, all male refugees could be in disadvantaged positions. However, social aid policies and researches seeing the masculinity as a universal category rather than a culturally constructed phenomenon, miss an important point: not all males can be equally advantageous in the patriarchal order. In other words, the idea that gender perceptions may have negative effects on men as much as they have on women should be a starting point for gaining further insights into the matter. Scholarly inquiries in this context should be aimed at a better understanding of the multiple structures of masculinity during the course of forced migration, and the inclusion of male refugees in social aid practices as visible actors.