Although exact figures are elusive, a significant proportion of women seeking asylum in the UK will have experienced, or will claim to have experienced, rape in their country of origin (Ceneda 2003). For many women, this will form a key part of the narrative as to why they fled. In addition, although it will not be a determining factor in all asylum applications, a woman’s claim of rape may be relevant to a range of crucial considerations, including the seriousness of past harm suffered and thus the future risk and prospects for safe return ‘home’. Despite this, to date, both the ways in which such alleged experiences of rape are disclosed by asylum-seekers, and the ways in which such disclosures are then responded to and evaluated by UK decision-makers have received little attention.
Key findings emerging from this research relate to three main themes:
1. The disclosure of rape claims, including timing of and barriers to disclosure, and the handling of rape disclosure at the Tribunal;
2. Evaluations of credibility, including problems of proof, ‘markers’ of incredibility, and gender-based scepticism; and
3. The emotional impact of asylum work, including the marginalisation of emotion, and strategies of emotional denial and detachment.