Gender, violence and vulnerability: Examining the politics of protection in the current refugee 'crisis'

For many years gender was not taken into account in asylum and refugee policies and legislation. More recently, following pressure from women’s groups, UNHCR, followed by various regional and national authorities, have introduced measures on protection of victims of gender-based violence into their asylum and refugee policies and legislation. However, as the experience of the current refugee ‘crisis’ illustrates, these policies are not always adequate in guaranteeing real protection to those who may be victims of this type of violence.

In this seminar I will examine the current ‘crisis’ from a gendered perspective, to discuss the ways in which gender has been used as a category of analysis, and to analyse whether in effect international organisations, NGOs, and EU governments have really offered any protection to victims of gender-violence. Moreover, I will discuss the ways in which the use of categories of ‘vulnerability’ may not in fact offer real protection to these refugees, but may instead act to fix categories of ‘gender’ and create dichotomies between male and female refugees which are not helpful to understanding the real experiences and needs of refugees.