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Unpublished Paper
Women as a Particular Social Group: A Comparative Assessment of Gender Asylum Claims in the United States and United Kingdom
ExpressO (2011)
  • Bethany C Lobo, Harvard University
Abstract

This paper rigorously analyzes modern American and British gender asylum law, concluding that both states’ jurisprudence suffers from three key failures to honor the protective mandate of the 1951 Refugee Convention, which binds both states in international law. The literature has focused almost exclusively on the first of these failures: adjudicators’ reluctance to acknowledge “women” or “men” as an asylum-eligible class, or “particular social group” (PSG), for fear of opening the proverbial floodgates. This paper proposes that two additional jurisprudential failures exist. Both the U.S. and U.K. have been too slow to grant asylum based on gender persecution where the feared persecution (1) exists in their own territory, as with domestic violence, or (2) arises for cultural reasons in the applicant’s home state, such as female genital cutting. Moreover, adjudicators often erroneously conclude that the refugee has an “internal flight alternative” that allows her to avoid her persecutors by relocating within her home state. Second, this paper proposes a novel adjudicative framework for gender asylum claims that would remediate each of the above-described jurisprudential failures. This comparative law paper is intended to contribute to the dialogue concerning how the U.S., U.K., and other common-law signatories to the Refugee Convention can reform their jurisprudence to protect refugees fleeing gender persecution who fall within the Convention’s mandate.

Keywords
  • asylum,
  • gender asylum,
  • immigration,
  • comparative law,
  • United Kingdom,
  • British,
  • United States,
  • American,
  • female genital mutilation,
  • female genital cutting,
  • domestic violence,
  • Refugee Convention,
  • gender persecution,
  • particular social group,
  • asylum reform,
  • immigration reform
Disciplines
Publication Date
Fall September 8, 2011
Citation Information
Bethany C Lobo. "Women as a Particular Social Group: A Comparative Assessment of Gender Asylum Claims in the United States and United Kingdom" ExpressO (2011)
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/bethany_lobo/1/