Training and strategic litigation: tools for enhanced protection of gender-related asylum applicants in Europe
On average women constitute one-third of individual asylum applicants in the European Union, and approximately 52 per cent of refugees in Europe are women and girls (Cheikh Ali, Querton, and Soulard 2012, 11; Council Resolution 1765). Women seeking asylum on the grounds of gender-related persecution face myriad obstacles in the assessment of their asylum claims with respect to interpretative issues in the identiﬁcation of their protection needs and during the asylum procedure itself. Over the past number of years there has been a growth in awareness about the speciﬁc protection needs of this particularly vulnerable group. This has been generated by the advocacy activities of civil society organizations, awareness raising initiatives by institutional bodies, and the emergence of comparative data on member state practice as well as by the reform of legal standards at the European Union level. Despite these advancements, signiﬁcant challenges remain in practice, which impede women’s access to asylum. This chapter will examine the progress made in the European Union thus far, and enquire as to what further efforts are necessary to ensure a proper assessment of asylum claims related to gender. This will be examined primarily with respect to training and strategic litigation and how these can serve as useful tools in the adjudication of such claims. Relevant links will also be made to sexual orientation and gender identity claims, given the intersections with gender that commonly arise in that category of asylum applications (LaViolette 2010; Millbank 2003).