International Human Rights Treaties and the Rights of Female Refugees and Asylum Seekers
Vermont Law School
HUMAN RIGHTS AND REFUGEES, INTERNALLY DISPLACED PERSONS, AND MIGRANT WORKERS, Anne Bayefsky, ed., Martinus Nijhoff, 2006
This book chapter provides a gender perspective on the international human rights treaty provisions that are of particular importance to female refugees. These treaties address a range of issues that female refugees face in relation to their rights, including rights violations that take place during flight and in refugee camps; difficulties encountered in the asylum application and adjudication process; and problems refugees face once settled that result from discrimination by both state and non-state actors in such areas as housing, employment, and education. The pertinent General Comments of the committees that monitor implementation of these treaties are examined, as are the concluding observations and recommendations under the reporting procedure of the treaty regime, and relevant jurisprudence under the individual complaint procedures established by four of the treaties.
Underlying the rights in all these treaties is the prohibition of discrimination on the basis of sex and the right to equal protection of the law. This paper recommends that to protect these rights, states should take into account the gender-related ways in which female refugees and asylum seekers experience the deprivation of rights. Rape and other sexual violence, gender-specific manifestations of racial and ethnic prejudice, limitations on freedom of movement on the basis of sex, violations of reproductive rights, and inequality in the economic realm are just some of the gender-related issues faced by female refugees. States should take account of these forms of rights violations in developing and implementing programs to fulfill their obligations under the international human rights treaties. States should also recognize the diversity among female refugees as they develop their programs in order to ensure maximum effectiveness.
Keywords: refugees, women, gender, human rights, treaties, international, asylum, racial, ethnic, discrimination
JEL Classification: J70, K33
Date posted: March 2, 2006
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