Forced Marriage and the Exoticization of Gendered Harms in United States Asylum Law

Publisher:
Columbia University
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Citation:
Columbia Journal of Gender and the Law, 2010, 19 (4), pp. 898 - 964
Issue Date:
2010-01
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This article reports on our analysis of 120 refugee cases from Australia, Canada, and Britain where an actual or threatened forced marriage was part of the claim for protection. We found that forced marriage was rarely considered by refugee decision makers to be a harm in and of itself. This finding contributes to understanding how gender and sexuality are analysed within refugee law, because the harm of forced marriage is experienced differently by lesbians, gay men and heterosexual women. We contrast our findings in the refugee case law with domestic initiatives in Europe aimed at protecting nationals from forced marriages both within Europe and elsewhere. We pay particular attention to British initiatives because they are in many ways the most far-reaching and innovative, and thus the contrast with the response of British refugee law is all the more stark.
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