The UK asylum system was set up to ensure people who need protection from persecution and harm can live in safety. It is a tough legal process that looks into literally every aspect of their past. During lengthy interviews, a person is required to tell harrowing stories over and over. For many it means re-living their experiences of violence or torture. Giving any evidence under these circumstances is hard. A person may not speak English, may be traumatised by their experience. They’re afraid of being sent back to a place where they know they’ll be harmed again.
What we are seeing is that these factors, among others, result in people having their claims refused unfairly. Arbitrary targets, high workloads, stress and a culture at the Home Office which is suspicious of refugees, all contribute to decisions being wrongly made. This means a person has to go through another system to appeal the decision in the court. About 35% of the Home Offices decisions are overturned on appeal, showing how often they get it wrong the first time.
Women and the asylum system
The particular challenges facing women seeking asylum in the UK are too often overlooked, and the most basic gender-sensitive provisions missing. The legal representation, legal analysis and campaigns work provided by the Women’s Project over more than a decade aims to fill this gap.
The traditional image of a refugee is that of a lone male political activist, persecuted for his involvement in protests against the state. Women, too, can be persecuted for such political activism – but political activities can also take different forms, such as refusing to abide by restrictions on dress codes. In addition, women are more likely to face forms of persecution that are particular to them, including domestic violence, rape, sexual violence, forced marriage, and female genital mutilation.
Our research and publications
Our insight into gender issues in the asylum system is crucial to the UK’s understanding of how to protect women fleeing persecution. Read the findings from our research here ant put them to use here.