Women’s Non-Refoulement Claims: Gendering Article 3 ECHR Risk Assessment

Dr Lourdes Peroni (University of Sheffield Hallam) will analyse the way in which the European Court of Human Rights assesses women asylum seekers’ non-refoulement claims under Article 3 ECHR.

Date and time: Wednesday, 13 Nov 2019, 2-4 pm.

Venue: Fielding Johnson L67.

Speaker: Dr. Lourdes Peroni, Sheffield Hallam University

Title: Women’s Non-Refoulement Claims: Gendering Article 3 ECHR Risk Assessment

Abstract: In this talk, I propose rethinking the way in which the European Court of Human Rights assesses women asylum seekers’ non-refoulement claims under Article 3 ECHR. In assessing the risk of ill-treatment that women would face if returned to their home countries, the Court sometimes under-scrutinizes the home state capacity to protect them while over-scrutinizing women’s capacity to protect themselves. This reasoning overlooks the societal and institutional conditions that render women vulnerable to ill-treatment in their home countries (e.g. impunity for violence usually experienced by women, widespread discrimination against women). At the same time, the reasoning suggests that women’s vulnerability to ill-treatment is largely due to personal attributes or ‘failures’ such as weakness, dependence, lack of education or financial resources. Under-scrutinizing the home state capacity to protect while over-scrutinizing women’s capacity to protect themselves may not solely distort the actual risk the individual woman would face in the particular case. The reasoning may also have gender inequality implications beyond the case. Women asylum seekers who do not fit the stereotype of the ‘weak, dependent and resourceless woman’ may be denied Article 3 ECHR protection. Moreover, ‘other’ women’s subordinate status in society may be recreated in and reinforced by human rights discourse. To counter these faults, I propose that in dealing with women asylum seekers’ non-refoulement claims the Court: (a) assess the gendered protection obstacles embedded in the home state institutions and society and (b) asses how these obstacles may shape a woman’s individual capacity to deal with the risk.

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