Women’s Asylum Appeals Project

Through Her Eyes: enabling women’s Best evidence in UK asylum appeals

New research by Asylum Aid and NatCen has shown us that a fair system for women fleeing sexual violence is within reach.

Nearly two thirds of initial asylum applications are refused each year by the Home Office.  Most people then take their case to appeal. This research explores how women seeking asylum navigate the appeals process, the extent to which current guidance is followed and what support is available to women as their case is heard at the First Tier Tribunal.

The researchers undertook in-depth qualitative interviews with women who have been through the appeals process as well as legal analysis of their case files. In addition, the research involved interviews with judges, legal representatives and support organisations.

Speaking as the report was launched, Debora Singer, Senior Policy Advisor at Asylum Aid said ‘we know that the asylum system is failing women because of their gender. Until we fix it, women will continue to face destitution or deportation which puts them at risk of sexual violence.’

‘We were surprised to find that solutions to make the appeals process more gender-sensitive are relatively straight-forward to implement. It comes down to judges making sure that the good practice identified in our report is shared, and that simple changes are made to enable women to have their child looked after during hearings. It’s about judges having an open mind, being aware of the effect and prevalence of gender-based violence, and considering evidence holistically. A fairer system for women is within reach.’

Download our report here.

Questions considered as part of the research were:

  • How do women asylum seekers experience the appeals process?
  • What are the range of ways the appeals process impacts on women asylum seekers?
  • What are the factors underpinning women’s asylum claims being successful on appeal?
  • Research discussion notesHow is the Joint Presidential Guidance Note No 2 of 2010 (Child, vulnerable adult and sensitive appellant guidance) being implemented in relation to women’s cases?

Asylum Aid held an event on 30th March 2017 at Garden Court Chambers presenting the emerging findings and recommendations of the research.  This provoked animated discussion and ideas which can be incorporated into the research. You can watch a condensed version of the panel event here and also read notes from the broader discussion. The full report will be published later in the year.

This research follows on from Asylum Aid’s ground-breaking research on women’s initial asylum claims, Unsustainable: the quality of decision-making in women’s asylum claims published in 2011. The findings published in Unsustainable led to changes in how the Home Office trains its decision-makers and the dis-aggregation of data on appeals results by sex for the first time.

Watch now: findings and recommendations.


The study is run in partnership with NatCen Social Research, an independent, not for profit organisation and is funded by the Nuffield Foundation.