26 June 2015

The UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, Rashida Manjoo, calls for better protection for women seeking asylum in the UK, citing concerns about the adequacy of assessments about experiences of gender-based violence.

Manjoo’s report was published on 17 June during the United Nations’ Human Rights Council in Geneva, following a tour in the UK in April 2014.

It includes allegations of sexual assault and threats by staff during detention, pending removal and deportation, including at the Yarl’s Wood facility, to which Manjoo was denied access for a visit.

The report cited concerns about the Home Office’s assessments’ adequacy in identifying experiences of violence among asylum-seeking women. It also noted that the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees had raised concerns that such women may not have the ability to speak in confidence about the gender-based violence they have faced. It points out that the Detained Fast Track Processes do not provide favourable conditions for those cases where gender-based violence is involved, as such cases are determined quickly, with less participation from legal representatives. Additionally, the report noted that austerity measures and cutbacks have affected women seeking asylum, as services catering to them have been reduced.

Manjoo recommended that the UK should ensure specialist services be made available to asylum-seeking women, and that experiences of victimisation are properly considered in asylum claims.

Refugee Council Advocacy Manager, Anna Musgrave, said in a response, on the NGO’s website, that the report provided more evidence that the UK was not doing enough to ensure the safety of asylum-seeking women. “Shockingly: The asylum system is actually putting them at risk of experiencing further violence.”

Asylum Aid wrote in a statement on its website: “Our asylum system continues to put women at a disadvantage, especially those who are escaping sexual or domestic violence, leaving them faced with a system that is stacked against them.”


This article originally appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 26 June 2015. You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.