Asylum Aid and european partner refugee organisations have published "Gender-related asylum claims in Europe", a comparative analysis of the way victims of gender-based persecution are treated when they claim asylum in nine EU member states.
Across the European Union, women constitute on average one in three of those applying for asylum in their own right. These are women who have been forced to flee from rape, sexual violence and other human rights abuses overseas. And refugee organisations have demanded for years that women seeking protection in Europe can claim asylum in safety and in dignity.
The report compares decision-making, procedures and reception of migrants in the UK, Belgium, France, Hungary, Italy, Malta, Romania, Spain and Sweden and shows that the immigration systems of European countries re-traumatise asylum-seeking women.
Childcare during asylum interviews is only provided in Belgium and the UK. For instance, one young Sri Lankan woman, seeking asylum in France, had to take her seven year-old son to her interview. She was forced to choose between discussing traumatic details in front of him and holding back important informations about why she left her country. “He heard it all” she explained. ''At one point, he asked if he could go out because what he heard was too hard for him”.
Another woman interviewed for the research, who fled to Hungary to escape persecution in Kosovo, explained that when she arrived in Hungary, she experienced a humiliating situation. “The police was rude with us. They checked us and we had to take off our clothes. For me – as an old woman – this was very embarrassing”.
These stories demonstrate that women are not guaranteed gender-sensitive treatment when they seek protection in Europe. They are too often confronted with legislation and policy that fail to meet acceptable standards, while even gender-sensitive policies are not implemented in practice.
The report shows that there are vast disparities between asylum systems in different EU member states. Gender-related legislation in one EU state is absent in another. There are no EU-wide guidelines and the majority of the nine states do not have national gender guidelines to aid asylum decision-makers in gender-based cases. Only Malta, Romania, Sweden and the UK have adopted their own national gender guidelines to assist asylum decision-makers.
The research has been launched the 30th of May at the European Parliament in front of an audience of policy-makers and NGOs.
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By Lilaafa Amouzou