Falling at Each Hurdle: Assessing the Credibility of Women’s Asylum Claims

Deborah Singer

In 2014 Asylum Aid conducted research on credibility in asylum claims, published in Gender and Refugee Law.  

The key reason why women are refused asylum is because they are not believed. The assessment of credibility plays a central role in the determination of an asylum applicant’s needs for international protection.

We found evidence that women’s cases are more likely to be overturned on appeal than men’s and that this is due to negative credibility assessments at initial decision-making.

Compared to men, women encounter additional hurdles in showing that their asylum claim is credible. Women are more likely than men to have claims based on persecution suffered in the private sphere. Thus, due to the nature of the harm they have suffered, it may be more difficult for women to obtain documentary evidence of the agent of persecution and of their activities and place in society. There are particular difficulties in providing evidence of certain types of harm such as domestic violence or forced marriage. In cases of imputed political opinion, some women may not have the information requested by the decision-maker to evidence their claim. It is also more difficult to access country of origin information on the status and treatment of women (Querton 2012, 37).

Women who have been through the asylum system themselves also raise credibility as a key concern. When asked about their priorities, 100 women who had been or were going through the asylum system in the United Kingdom, unanimously agreed on the issue of not being believed and identified credibility in decision-making as a priority (Bradford Refugee Forum).

We created the following short film to communicate the results of the research in a more accessible way: