Persecution on Account of One’s Gender: Refugee Status or Status Quo?

  • Eva Nilsson Umea University
Keywords: refugee law, Swedish Aliens Act 2006, rule of law, gender-based persecution, violence against women


The subject of this paper is women experiencing male partner violence and the determination of refugee status. My central point of departure is the changes that were made in the Swedish Aliens Act in 2006 concerning the definition of ‘refugee’, which inter alia states that persecution on account of a person’s gender should be included within the definition. The changes came into force at the same time as the new Aliens Act which was introduced in order to strengthen the ‘rule of law’ in migration matters. The objective of this article is to analyse the premises for these changes. The conclusion is that the changes are gender biased and marked by ‘othering’ mechanisms and underlying racism. The conclusion is also that many of these women, as a consequence of the constructions in the legislation, are exposed by the Swedish migration authorities to such institutionalized violence ‘on account of gender’ that would have been a basis for refugee status if it had been the authorities in their homeland that had exposed them to it. The reason for this is that the ‘special’ character of migration law rests upon demands other than those usually required by the ‘rule of law’, limiting the possibilities for change. However, maintaining the ‘rule of law’ also means exclusion for women seeking asylum. With or without the rule of law, it seems ongoing exclusion is the keyword for women in this branch of law.

Author Biography

Eva Nilsson, Umea University
Senior Lecturer in Law, Umea University.
How to Cite
NilssonE. (2012). Persecution on Account of One’s Gender: Refugee Status or Status Quo?. feminists@law, 2(1).
Gender Equality and Othering in the Swedish Welfare State