Women and gender issues
When used in the context of the asylum procedure, the term ‘gender’ refers to all issues related to sex, sexual identity or sexual inclination. Hence, this term does not only refer to types of persecution of which women are the main victims, such as genital mutilation or forced marriage, but also to homosexuality, rape or forced prostitution.
Applications based on gender can be made by both men and women, although these applications, due to the specific forms of persecution, are more often made by women.
Currently, gender-related persecution is taken into account as a reason which may give rise to the recognition of refugee status.
The CGRS pays special attention to the treatment of asylum applications based on gender-related reasons.
In 2005 the CGRS appointed a coordinator for ‘gender issues’. Her task is to define guidelines for the processing of gender-related asylum applications, taking into account the specificity and the vulnerability of some asylum seekers. She also supervises the homogeneous application of these guidelines.
The CGRS has also appointed reference persons for gender issues in each geographic section of the CGRS. Each reference person must detect within his/her section the training and information needs with respect to gender issues.
The CGRS has also organised training and awareness sessions on the genital mutilation of women or on how people who say they have been sexually abused should be interviewed.
Moreover, the CGRS provides a number of facilities for asylum seekers:
- In the Immigration Department questionnaire, they can ask to be interviewed by a CGRS caseworker of the same sex. They can also ask to be assisted by an interpreter of the same sex. The idea is to create conditions for the interview which enable asylum seekers to express all reasons for their fear with respect to their country of origin.
- Child care is organised for children between 1 and 12 years old who accompany asylum seekers when they have been unable to find someone to look after them during the interview. This helps them to relax, because this way they do not have to tell their story in front of the children.
Some asylum seekers can be faced with specific problems, such as human trafficking.
If an asylum seeker is of the opinion that one of the following cases applies to him/her:
- Their situation in Belgium does not correspond to what they were promised.
- They are in Belgium because of people who lied.
- They are mistreated, exploited, threatened, forced to do things they do not want to do.
- Their documents were taken from them and they cannot get them back.
- They are not receiving the payment promised.
- They are often locked up and isolated from the outside world.
In these cases, certain associations can help them, provide support, listen to them and provide them with a safe place to stay.
These associations are:
In Brussels: Pag-asa
02 511 64 64
In Antwerp: Payoke
03 201 16 90
In Liège: Sürya
04 232 40 30
As victims of human trafficking, asylum seekers can, under certain circumstances, obtain a residence permit and protection from the Belgian authorities.