‘Hearing the Right Gaps’: Enabling and Responding to Disclosures of Sexual Violence within the UK Asylum Process

Sharon Cowan, Helen Baillot, Vanessa Munro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The barriers that prevent or delay female victims of sexual assault from disclosing to criminal justice authorities, and the obstacles that often disincline professional and lay decision-makers from finding such narratives credible, have been well documented. This article explores the extent to which such difficulties may be replicated, and compounded, in the case of female asylum-seekers; it will examine the complex ways in which the structure and processes, as well as the heavily politicised context, of asylum decision-making may contribute towards a silencing of sexual assault narratives. The article will explore the ways in which the intersection of race, ethnicity, gender, culture, religion, language and nationality present distinct challenges to women asylum applicants for whom an alleged rape is a part of their claim, and reflect on some of the difficulties this presents in terms of assessing the credibility of sexual assault allegations, and of the overall asylum claim.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-28
Number of pages29
JournalSocial and Legal Studies
Volume21
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2012

Keywords

  • asylum
  • Rape
  • trauma
  • narrative
  • disclosure
  • culture

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