Adjudicating Fear of Witchcraft Claims in Refugee Law

(2018) Journal of Law and Society

32 Pages Posted: 9 Aug 2018

See all articles by Jenni Millbank

Jenni Millbank

University of Technology, Sydney, Faculty of Law

Anthea Vogl

University of Technology Sydney, Faculty of Law

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: July 24, 2018

Abstract

This research examines claims of witchcraft related violence (WRV) in asylum decisions. In refugee applications involving WRV those accused of witchcraft are largely women, and those fearing witchcraft are more often men. This is one of two interrelated articles reporting on cases where claimants feared harm from witchcraft or occult practices. We argue that WRV is a manifestation of gender-related harm, one which exposes major failings in the application of refugee jurisprudence. Systemic inattention to the meaning and application of the Convention ground of Religion, combined with gender insensitivity in analysis, meant that claims were frequently re-configured by decision-makers as personal grudges. The fear of witchcraft cases pose an acute ontological challenge to refugee status determination, as the claimed harm falls outside of what is understood to be objective, verifiable, or Convention-related. Male applicants struggled to make their claims comprehensible as a result of the feminised and ‘irrational’ characterization of witchcraft fears and beliefs.

Keywords: [comma separated]: gender related persecution; gendered violence; witchcraft; refugee law; religious persecution; particular social group

JEL Classification: k33, k41

Suggested Citation

Millbank, Jenni and Vogl, Anthea, Adjudicating Fear of Witchcraft Claims in Refugee Law (July 24, 2018). (2018) Journal of Law and Society. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3219573

Jenni Millbank (Contact Author)

University of Technology, Sydney, Faculty of Law ( email )

Australia

Anthea Vogl

University of Technology Sydney, Faculty of Law ( email )

Sydney
Australia

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