European & International News

Belgium: gender-related asylum claims multiplied by three in five years

[Brussels, 21 March 2013] Asylum claims based on gender-based persecution increased from 6% to 17% of the total number of claims in Belgium between 2007 and 2012. Belgium is one of the rare countries that publishes gender-based statistics when it comes to asylum claims and procedures.

In Belgium, the number of asylum claims based on gender-based persecutions increased threefold between 2007 and 2012. The majority of those claims were made by women. A smaller proportion was made by men persecuted because of their sexual orientation. [1]
Belgium is one of the few countries in Europe which have incorporated gender-sensitive guidelines in their asylum policies. It is the only country in Europe with an administrative office dedicated soley to gender in asylum claims (“cellule genre” of the CGRA – Commissariat aux réfugiés et aux apatrides).

The CGRA established a typology of gender-based persecutions:
- Persecutions based on sexual orientation or gender identity
- Honor killing
- Female genital mutilations
- Forced marriage
- Intra-familial violence
- Sexual violence/rape
- Forced sterilization and forces abortion

In the European Union, the Common European Asylum System attempted to harmonize the way Member States interpret asylum claims. The two qualification directives (2004/83/EC and 2011/95/EU) require Member States to take gender into account to a certain extent to in their definition of refugee status. However, according to the GENSEN report on gender-based asylum claims, strong disparities remain between Member States. In general, there is a general lack of gender sensitivity in European asylum policies.

Increasing the gender-sensitivity of asylum policies in Europe is a long-term aim of the European Women’s Lobby and other NGOs such as Amnesty International and ILGA.

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