Gender-Based Persecution and the (inadequate) use of the Concept of Gender - A textual analysis of the construction of women's gender-based asylum claims in the Swedish asylum determination system
Abstract Asylum determination has, historically, not been sensitive to women's gender-based claims. Rather, male experiences and governmental persecution have been held as preferences in asylum determination. There have been international calls to assess gender-based claims in relation to a social constructivist approach towards gender, in order to eradicate the misinterpretations of women's asylum claims. This dissertation analyses the constructions of women's gender-based asylum claims, and further, examines whether or not verdicts of such claims have been sensitive to the gendered aspects involved. The data used are verdicts from a Swedish Migration Court. Both qualitative and quantitative content analysis has been used as method. Social constructivism has been the main theoretical approach for analysing the construction of women's gender-based asylum claims. The major findings of the analysis are that even though women's claims are largely gender-based, gender is rarely used as a perspective for understanding the claims. Instead, they are often constructed as either being private matters that are not severe enough as to constitute a need for international protection; being random criminal acts without a particular goal and thus disconnected from a protection ground; or as lacking credibility when deviating from notions and understandings of the cultural context related to the claim. Furthermore, claims of violence/harm due to transgression of social mores are often constructed as something that could be averted by the asylum seeker, if she only followed the norms set. Thus, the political agency of transgressing such mores was overlooked. Lastly, the construction and use of gender is to a great extent equated with women, as biologically different to men. In this sense, the socially constructed and gendered power relations and ideological expectations placed on men and women are disregarded. The conclusion is that there is a great need for assessing gender-based asylum claims with a gender sensitive approach, in order to eradicate widespread misunderstandings based on notions of gender and culture. Keywords: Gender-Based Persecution, Sweden, Asylum Determination, Social Constructions, Gender, Women Asylum Seekers
PublisherUniversitetet i Tromsø
University of Tromsø
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