A substantial number of women asylum seekers and refugees have little confidence in the asylum system. Gender-sensitive policies are not always implemented on the ground, undermining the safeguards that should be in place to ensure fair treatment of women seeking asylum. And, inappropriate questioning continues at UKBA interviews and asylum appeal hearings.
This and much more has come out in the “I feel like as a woman I’m not welcome”: A gender analysis of UK asylum law, policy and practice, Asylum Aid's new research report.
Asylum Aid, founded in 1990 to provide desperately-needed legal representation to those fleeing persecution abroad, conducted interviews with women asylum seekers and refugees in four cities across the UK. The interviewees ranged from women recognised as refugees to women living in uncertainty for many years. It also spoke with legal representatives working with women asylum seekers, and with advocates campaigning on their behalf.
The other findings are: The women asylum seekers and refugees interviewed for this research and the legal representatives who work with them expressed little confidence in the asylum system.
Current legislation includes only limited consideration of gender issues. Although gender-sensitive guidance is included in some UK Border Agency documents, major gaps remain, including interpretation of the Particular Social Group ground of the Refugee Convention
The lack of gender-specific guidance for the Tribunals of the Immigration and Asylum
Chamber is of particular concern. The Tribunal’s failure to follow the House of Lords’ judgment in Fornah has resulted in a discriminatory approach to the determination of asylum claims based on gender-based particular social groups.
It was also found that a lack of privacy and the absence of appropriate information at the Asylum Screening Unit affect women asylum seekers’ ability to put their claim forward in a fair manner
Besides this, difficulty in accessing legal aid damages the rights of women seeking asylum; and a lack of gender-specific policies affects women’s privacy and safety in UKBA accommodation, and their health and well-being in immigration detention.
Asylum Aid says the analysis combines legal and qualititative research in a detailed gender analysis of the UK asylum system.
`Last year, the Immigration Minister and Deputy Prime Minister committed the Coalition Government to creating an asylum system sensitive to the needs of women and girls, and to those with gender-based asylum claims.
`This research draws on interviews with asylum-seeking women and their advocates across the UK, and detailed analysis of the asylum jurisprudence and policies most relevant to women, to test the Government against these promises,’ it adds.