Asylum Aid: Improving the treatment of women within the asylum process
28 Ocotber 2010. Female asylum seekers now have a better chance at having their unique and complex issues understood and respected by the British immigration system as a result of a the ‘Every Single Woman’ campaign by Asylum Aid.
The campaign focuses on the disparity in the treatment of women who are seeking asylum compared with women settled in the UK.
In late 2008 the charity embarked on a campaign to promote a Charter of Rights of Women Seeking Asylum, designed to encourage cultural and strategic change within the UK Border Agency (UKBA). The charter was a response to the fact that cases of gender-specific persecution – such as rape, honour crimes and forced genital mutilation – were not well understood, or treated appropriately or sensitively.
The Charter, launched in October 2008, quickly attracted the support of other bodies working in the field; endorsed by 200 organisations and receiving backing from both the UNHCR and the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
Asylum Aid pushed the issue with relevant politicians and set up meetings with senior members of the UKBA to stress the urgency and importance of the issue. As a result, in December last year the UKBA chief executive appointed a member of its senior management team to lead on gender issues and put together its own action plan to deal with the treatment of women and women-specific issues within the asylum process.
With a team of just 17, Asylum Aid launched the second phase of its campaign, Every Single Woman, last December – accompanied by a widely-viewed documentary.
The charity’s advice work with asylum seekers has an application success rate of 93 per cent, three times the national average, and it has used its experience from face-to-face dealings with the individuals to inform its influential charter to improve the experiences of every female asylum seeker.
Asylum Aid’s Charter of Rights of Women Seeking Asylum has been highly commended at this year’s Charity Awards, which are held to celebrate talent and expertise in the voluntary sector.
To read the ‘Every single woman’ report that this video accompanies, please visit http://www.asylumaid.org.uk/charter .