Report on the Legal Rights of Women and Girl Asylum Seekers in the European Union

Asylum report cover
This report was prepared by a team led by Hilary Foulkes and Melis Acuner, including Tom Southwell, Katie Sutton, Emma Farrow, Paula Henin, Sofia Lekakis, Nour El-Kebbi and Shannon Mercer of the London office of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom (UK) L

This report analyses asylum for women survivors of gender-based violence in the EU. It provides background on the legal framework applicable to women and girl asylum seekers, including the 1951 Refugee Convention, CEDAW, the Istanbul Convention and the EU acquis. The report then outlines the relevance of gender and gender-based persecution in determining refugee status.  As demonstrated, Member States have taken disparate views as to when women can successfully claim refugee status on the grounds of gender-based persecution. Some judges in EU member states are applying restrictive interpretations of existing national and international legislation and deciding that even though women have faced torture, threats of assassination, forced marriage, sexual abuse and been the victims of trafficking, these forms of gender-based persecution do not qualify them for asylum as there is no agreed definition of gender-based persecution in the EU.  The report concludes with a section on gender sensitive procedures for processing asylum claims. The report also includes a series of recommendations to EU policy makers and member states to make their asylum system more gender responsive and help ensure that women who have survived gender based persecution are protected. Mainly EU member states should agree to a common definition of sexual and gender-based violence and of gender-based persecution, which includes honour crimes and trafficking.

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Geographic coverage: Europe and Central Asia
Subject areas: Peace and security
UN Women office publishing: Europe and Central Asia Regional Office
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