Persecuted because they are women! A gender sensitive asylum policy is urgently needed in Ireland an
Published: Tuesday, March 20, 2001
'As part of European Week Against Racism (19-25 March) and United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Racism (21 March), the National Women's Council of Ireland (NWCI) wishes to draw attention to the many types of persecution experienced by women causing them to flee for their safety and seek asylum' declared Ms. Gráinne Healy, NWCI Chairwoman.
'Examples of such persecution include, rape as a weapon of war, female genital mutilation, forced marriage and stoning to death for presumed adultery' she continued. 'Although the Refugee Act (1996) does nominate gender-based persecution as a ground for asylum, it contains no mention of special treatment for women asylum seekers, despite the fact that women seeking asylum may have been persecuted precisely because they are women' she added. She went on to say that the NWCI supports the Irish Council for Civil Liberties' (ICCL) document Women and the Refugee Experience: Towards a Statement of Best Practice, which provides comprehensive recommendations regarding the asylum process and the reception and integration of women asylum seekers.
'Included in the ICCL recommendations are the use of women interviewers and interpreters trained in sensitivity to cultural and gender issues' she continued. 'Through its contact with refugee interest networks, the NWCI is aware of current cases in which women seeking asylum on the grounds of gender-based persecution have been refused refugee status and face deportation' stated Ms. Healy.
'As part of its anti-racism work, in solidarity with Traveller women and other black and minority ethnic women, the NWCI will be calling on the Minister for Justice to ensure that the asylum process is sensitive to the experiences and issues of women asylum seekers' said Ms. Healy. She explained that:
- At a national level, letters and faxes will be sent by NWCI affiliate organisations to the Minister for Justice drawing attention to gender-based persecution and the need for gender-sensitive asylum policy.
- At EU level, the NWCI will participate in the European Women's Lobby (EWL) postcard campaign. The Persecution is Not Gender Blind postcards from all over the EU will be submitted to the Belgian Minister of the Interior during the Belgian Presidency in the latter part of 2001. An electronic petition and information on the campaign are also available at: www.womenlobby.org/asylumcampaign.
'Women fleeing persecution in their own countries have a right to asylum in Ireland. We believe that the most effective way of ensuring safety for persecuted women is through the participation of refugee women in the planning, implementation, evaluation and monitoring of refugee programmes' concluded Ms. Healy.