Women for Refugee Women (WRW) has submitted evidence to the Women and Equalities Committee on how the UK asylum process harms women. A full list of written evidence submitted to the Committee is available here.

Summary of Women for Refugee Women’s submission:

  • WRW’s research indicates that a high proportion of women seeking asylum in the UK have experienced gendered persecution in their countries of origin.
  • However, the UK’s asylum system does not help and support these survivors of gender-based violence. Rather, it actively harms and retraumatises them.
  • Women’s asylum claims are often wrongly refused. This can be because of difficulties in evidencing the persecution they have experienced, as well as poor legal representation. Most significantly it is because of the Home Office’s ‘culture of disbelief’, which means women’s experiences of persecution are routinely dismissed by decision-makers.
  • When women’s asylum claims are refused they may be made destitute, which exposes them to further gendered violence, including sexual assault and domestic violence.
  • Women who have been refused asylum can also be locked up indefinitely in immigration detention, which has a devastating impact on their mental health.

Instead of addressing the harms of the current asylum system, the government appears determined to make them even worse, through a number of worrying measures in the Nationality and Borders Bill which is currently going through Parliament.


Instead of aggravating the harms of the current asylum system for women, as it is doing through the Nationality and Borders Bill, there are a number of key ways in which the government could ensure that the UK’s asylum system provides women with help and support:

  • By ensuring that there is a culture of protection at the core of the asylum system, rather than one of disbelief;
  • By ensuring access to quality legal representation at all stages of the asylum process;
  • By ensuring specialist mental health support;
  • By ending the policy of enforced destitution;
  • By ending the use of immigration detention.