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Germany's Lost Daughters

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Which is more likely to happen in this 2005 season?  

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  1. 1. Which is more likely to happen in this 2005 season?

    • The Redskins win their 4th Superbowl...
    • The Redskins sweep Dallas this season...
    • The Redskins go undefeated...A perfect 19-0!
    • Portis rushes for over 2000 yards...
    • Ramsey breaks Marino's old record and P.Manning new record for most TD's trhown in a season...
    • The Redskins Defense becomes Known as the greatest Defense ever...including the 85 Bears!
    • Cornelius Griffin Breaks Strahans (hand me down) Sack Record...
    • Sean Taylor not only plays,but breaks Dick"nighttrain"lanes interception record for 1 season...
    • The Dirtbags actually end up being"Better" ,then the hogs...
    • Carlos Rogers gets rookie of the year...(NFL)
    • The best WR on the team actually ends up being a guy who's been onhe roster for a while...(Darnarian McCants) t
    • Antonio Pierce becomes a probowler...(for the Giants)
    • Pastabelly writes a positive,meaningful,accurate and well thought-out article on the redskins organization in general...
    • Michael Barrow does NOT get cut!...
    • The Redskins don't get screwed on any game changing ...Game deciding calls all year long...
    • Lavar Arrington finds some other way to sit out this season,because of the money apparently Dan Snyder sneaked from him...
    • Champ Bailey gets lit up like a christmas tree (AGAIN)this,yet many still will claim he's the top 3 cornerback in the game...
    • As soon as Gibbs pulls out the Shotgun,we will start dominat cause that is what Ramsey likes to do...ing
    • The Redskins will play the Patriots in Superbowl 40 and it will become the most watched sporting event EVER in history...
    • The most improved player of the year for skins will be Derrick Dockery...
    • Jason Campbell will be the first (Rookie)QB ever to lead his team to a superbowl Victory...
    • Chris Cooley becomes the type of player opponents teams coaches, circle on chalkboards before every game...
    • Jeff Chandler beats out john hall...
    • Marcus Washington earns a second trip to the probowl...and solidifies himself as the defensive leader on the team...NOT Lavar arrington...
    • Smoot ends up being a grave loss to our team during the season...
    • We win all of our divisional games...Total Sweep...
    • Sean Taylor and Ray carruth become best friends...
    • Cardinals make playoffs after just 1 season under Denny Green...
    • The Saints win the superbowl ......within the next 1000 years...!
    • Pete Rose gets inducted into the Baseball hall of fame...

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Germany's Lost Daughters

Thousands of Turkish women live like slaves in Germany. They are locked into apartments, beaten and kept deliberately ignorant. Their men don't want them integrated and -- until now -- neither did Germany. That, say women's rights workers, politicians and social workers, has to change.

Fatwa, a raven-haired Turkish beauty, ran away from her German-Turkish family at 17, terrified of an arranged marriage with a groom she had never met. One year later, she saved her 12-year-old sister Esma from a similar fate, smuggling her away from Turkish relatives determined to see the teen wed. The girls -- disowned by their parents -- now live together, supported only by women's groups and their own determination.

The girls don't think of their stories as extraordinary. Indeed, within their circle of friends they are not. Germany, it turns out, is home to thousands of young German-Turkish women who harbor harrowing tales of courage and grief. Tales that pit the girls' dreams for themselves with the traditions of their families. The girls' goal is simple: they want the same rights as their peers in German schools. They'd like to go to the movies. They'd like to wear jeans and eat ice cream in public. They'd like to talk to boys. Just talk. And, of course, they would like to choose the men they make their lives with and eventually father their children.

But the culture and circle from which they come -- insular Turkish Muslim families -- says no. It says that men are in charge and determine women's fates. To get what they want, the girls have to run, changing their names, falsifying their passports and breaking with the families they love but simply can't obey.

Their stories are not talked about in mainstream German circles. Indeed, most Germans never hear about them or get a look inside the life of their friendly Turkish baker, butcher or green grocer, who are often touted as the faces of multiculturalism in Germany. At least they haven't until now.

An epochal event for European Muslims?

The murder of filmmaker Theo Van Gogh and ensuing violence in Holland is causing Germany to take a closer look at itself and its integration policies. Over the weekend, German conservatives called for immigrants to better integrate into German society by learning German and becoming familiar with mainstream culture. German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder also called on immigrants to become familiar with German laws and democratic principles. And, for the first time, he took sides in a debate about whether Muslim teachers should be allowed to wear headscarves in public schools. His answer was "no," mirroring the recent opinion of the five of Germany's 16 federal states which recently ruled headscarves inappropriate for teachers and other public officials. In Cologne on Sunday, close to 25,000 Muslims took to the streets in the bitter cold to protest violence in the name of Islam and to support better integration with Germans.

For the first time, lawmakers and the public are beginning to openly admit that living side by side with 3.2 million Muslims -- 2.5 million of whom are Turks -- does not mean integrating with them, or even knowing them. Van Gogh's film -- in which he criticized the treatment of Muslim women -- cost him his life. It also cost Holland its innocence. Germany, say some, may be on the same road.

For Germany -- a country still uncomfortable thinking of itself as an immigration state -- this is very new. "Integration was never the goal," said Rita Suessmuth, the former head of the federal committee on immigration, talking about German immigration policy over the past three decades. "The idea was that the immigrants would return home. For years we allowed and even supported this sort of side-by-side living."

Living Under the Yoke of Patriotism

The worst victims of this are Muslim women. Social workers estimate that thousands -- perhaps tens of thousands -- of Muslim women live as invisibles in Germany, their lives physically defined by the walls of their home and ordered by four staples: the Quran, male superiority, the importance of family, violence and honor. In the middle of Germany, these women live as slaves, unseen or ignored by their German neighbors, hidden behind walls and forgotten.

Many women who have been brought to cities by husbands "don't even know where they have been living for years," insists Katrin Fliess, who heads a women's help group in Munich. That's because once they arrive in a city and they never leave their neighborhood, she said. Some may never even leave the house.

Far from decreasing, such situations are on the rise in Germany. Muslims -- but especially Turkish Muslims -- regard Germany as a Mecca of religious tolerance. That is partly the legacy of World War II, which has made criticizing minority cultures or religions a taboo for most Germans. Here -- more so than in any other European country -- Muslims are free to practice their religion as they want. In Turkey, (a Muslim state, but ruled by a secular government) headscarves are not allowed in schools and universities. France, too, bans headscarves for pupils. In Germany, however, no federal laws limit student dress. At least not yet.

Secret, Impenetrable Lives

The problem with understanding German-Turkish women is that they live in tough to penetrate enclaves and as such have been ignored. Astonishingly, the first real information the government has collected on the lives of Turkish-German women came out just two months ago, as part of study done by the Federal Ministry of the Family and Children. In the study, the following facts emerged: Turkish women in Germany are more likely to be abused than German women. Whereas 25 percent of German women said their spouses hit or physically attacked or threatened them with a weapon during their relationship, 38 percent of Turkish women said they had experienced such attacks. Of the 38 percent, two-thirds said they had been injured in the attacks. Twenty-five percent of Turkish women also said they first met their husband on their wedding day. Nine percent admitted they were forced into marriages they didn't want.

Another telling statistic: About 30 percent of women seeking help in women's shelters in Germany are Muslim, most of whom are from Turkey. Most have suffered abuse -- for longer and to a more serious degree than German women.

Since Sept. 11, the plight of Muslim women has become even more desperate as the gap between Germans and Muslim Turks widened. With the world frowning on Islam -- at least the fundamental kind -- believers have clung to one another. A study done by the Essen Turkish Center on behalf of the state of North Rhine Westpalia, shows a significant increase in those who identify them as religious Muslims since Sept. 11. "Enclaves are developing with an imam as the center figure," said Fliess.

What can be done?

Education, say many experts is the key. One way to make sure that Muslims in Germany don't continue to sink into their own hidden world is to teach them about what else exists. In other words, to teach them how their German neighbors live. The first step in such a plan has been taken in the form of an immigration law -- squabbled over for four years and just passed this summer -- stipulating that anyone who receives permanent residency in Germany has to attend language and integration classes.

But language and courses on German culture alone will not be enough to bridge the divide. In interviews with DER SPIEGEL, experts -- including researchers, social workers and politicians -- offered the following prescriptions:

1. Requiring immigrants to take classes on human rights and women's rights beginning as early as grade school.

2. Strengthening the laws regarding women brought from Turkey and Muslim countries as young brides. For instance, say some, the women should be at least 18. And they should be forced to take language classes upon arrival.

3. Forbidding arranged marriages and including a means to prosecute parents who force their children to marry against their will.

4. Breaking up the Turkish-Muslim "ghettos."

5. Creating more programs for Turkish youths.

6. Creating a larger network for women in need.

7. Controlling what gets taught in Quran schools.

8. Aggressively campaigning against violence in Muslim families.

9. Creating job training programs and job opportunities for Turkish women.

Will any of them get implemented? It's hard to say. Perhaps, if the spotlight remains directed at integration issues and if more strong voices, like women's rights advocate Alice Schwarzer, the Betty Friedan of Germany, are heard on the issue. Subjugation, says Schwarzer, is a political, not a cultural issue. These women deserve rights and Germans, she says, need to stand up and fight for them. "A society in which a male can put down another only because she is female -- such a society is at its core an unfair society."

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