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'She, of Course, Holds No Political Opinions': Gendered Political Opinion Ground in Women's Forced Marriage Asylum Claims

Honkala, N. (2017). 'She, of Course, Holds No Political Opinions': Gendered Political Opinion Ground in Women's Forced Marriage Asylum Claims. Social and Legal Studies, 26(2), pp. 166-187. doi: 10.1177/0964663916681067


Women continue to face challenges in having their asylum claims recognised under the Refugee Convention. This is to a significant extent due to the ways in which the Convention is applied to women’s claims, and is particularly the case in gender-based persecution claims. While there have been important advances in the field of gender and refugee law, contributing to an improved understanding of the relevance of gender within international refugee law, there remains a need for more gender-sensitive interpretations of the Convention. This article critiques the ways in which the political opinion ground of the Refugee Convention has been applied to some women’s forced marriage claims in the UK. Women’s gender-based persecution claims are often categorised under the membership of a particular social group ground and the political opinion ground remains an underused and narrowly interpreted category. Drawing on feminist critiques, it is argued that this demonstrates an underlying gendered politics, and that the political opinion ground can indeed be relevant to women’s asylum claims involving forced marriage. Women’s resistance to their gendered oppression in the form of forced marriage should be seen as a valid expression of their political opinion and agency.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: Copyright Sage 2016
Publisher Keywords: Forced marriage, gender and asylum, refugee law, political opinion ground, feminism, adjudication
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
K Law
Departments: The City Law School > Academic Programmes
SWORD Depositor:
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