The Rights of Women Seeking Asylum: a Charter - Refugee Council
August 1, 2008

The Rights of Women Seeking Asylum: a Charter

By Richard, Protection Policy Team

We are delighted to be one of the first organisations to endorse this Charter which is a new initiative from the Refugee Women’s Resource Project (RWRP) at Asylum Aid. The Charter outlines a basic framework of principles that UKBA should follow in dealing with women in the asylum process. It then recommends actions that UKBA should take to ensure that these principles are followed.

We believe that this Charter is essential because, despite UKBA publishing guidance to Case Owners on the handling of claims from women, there continues to be evidence that these are not in practice followed.  This was highlighted in the recent UNHCR Quality Initiative summary of findings on the Detained Fast Track which observed: “In addition UNHCR has examined the assessment of gender specific issues in Yarl’s Wood decisions. UNHCR notes that some Case Owners do not appear to possess the necessary skills and expertise to ensure that the full range of gender related claims are recognised in asylum decisions. UNHCR recommends that all DFT Case Owners receive training on the correct identification and assessment of gender issues in asylum claims”.

The aim is to alert UKBA to the wide range of concern about the failure to ensure that its procedures do provide adequate protection for women. It is hoped thereby to persuade UKBA to implement the programme of practical actions and safeguards that underpin the Charter.

As RWRP explain “Women come to the UK to seek protection from a range of human rights abuses abroad. Whilst some of their experiences, such as being detained for their political activities, are the same as men’s, some of their experiences are gender specific. Many have suffered, or are at risk of, gender persecution, including rape or sexual violence, honour crimes, forced marriage, domestic violence or female genital mutilation in countries where the state fails to protect them.

In leaving behind everything that is familiar these women show remarkable courage. They deserve to be treated in a way that recognises their particular needs as women and how their asylum claims are affected by their gender.

All asylum seekers have the right to be treated consistently, with fairness, dignity and respect in accordance with the UK’s obligations under the international refugee and human rights conventions.

The signatories to this charter call upon the UKBA to commit to treating women seeking asylum with fairness, dignity and respect, based on a fundamental recognition of their human rights and of their particular experiences of persecution”.

If you are interested in finding out more about this project then go to the Asylum Aid website at

Here you will also find a short (20 minute) film dramatising the difficulties faced by women asylum seekers in the UK called Random Acts.