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Degradation by design: women and asylum in northern Europe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)46-63
Number of pages18
JournalRace and Class
Issue number1
Early online date23 May 2019
DateAccepted/In press - 1 Apr 2019
DateE-pub ahead of print - 23 May 2019
DatePublished (current) - 1 Jul 2019


The increasingly punitive measures taken by European governments to deter people seeking asylum, including increased use of detention, internalised controls, reductions in in-country rights and procedural safeguards, have a hugely damaging impact on the lives and wellbeing of women survivors of torture, sexual and domestic violence. This article, based on a two-year research project examining Britain, Denmark and Sweden, involved more than 500 hours speaking with people seeking asylum, as well as interviews with practitioners. It highlights among other issues non-adherence to the Istanbul Convention (for Denmark and Sweden, who have ratified it); non-application of gender guidelines; and significant wholesale violations of refugee rights. It demonstrates some of the ways in which increasingly harsh policies impact on women seeking asylum and highlights the experiences relayed by some who are affected: those stuck in asylum systems and practitioners seeking to provide support. Indeed, it indicates that women seeking asylum in Britain, Denmark and Sweden are made more vulnerable to violence due to the actions or inactions of the states that are supposed to protect them.

    Research areas

  • women seeking asylum, torture, Sweden, suicide, self-harm, refugee rights, Istanbul Convention, in-country rights, immigration detention, gender blindness, domestic violence, Denmark, Britain, border controls



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