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MEPs call for gender-sensitivity in asylum policy

Plenary Session Press release - Women's rights/Equal opportunities08-03-2016 - 13:44
Award-winning French photojournalist Marie Dorigny travelled to Greece, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Germany from December 2015 to January 2016 at the request of the EP seeking to capture on film the plight of women refugees ahead of this year's International Women's Day. © Marie Dorigny / European Union 2015   French photojournalist Marie Dorigny recently travelled to Greece, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, at Parliament’s request, to film the plight of women refugees ahead of this year's International Women's Day. © Marie Dorigny/EU 2015

A reform of EU migration and asylum policies and procedures needs to include gender-sensitive measures to ensure the safety of women seeking asylum, many of whom travel with young children and other dependents, say MEPs in a resolution voted on Tuesday.

“This report highlights the exceptionally vulnerable situation of women refugees in the European Union. They have fled persecution in their home countries, undertaking a perilous journey in order to reach a place of safety. On arrival at reception centres these already vulnerable women, who may be victims of sexual violence, trafficking or other violent crimes, face additional barriers which exacerbate their already vulnerable positions", said rapporteur Mary Honeyball (S&D, UK).

The resolution was approved by 388 votes to 150, with 159 abstentions.

Gender-sensitive asylum procedure


Asylum policies and procedures, including the assessment of asylum claims, need to be gender sensitive, while gendered forms of violence, including but not limited to rape, sexual violence, female genital mutilation, forced marriage or domestic violence should be recognized as valid reasons for seeking asylum in the EU, says the text. MEPs also note the need for LGBTI- sensitive reception, as violence against LGBTI people is common in reception facilities. 

The report calls for various measures to ensure that women’s specific needs are met throughout the asylum process and in reception centres:

  • gender-segregated sleeping and sanitation facilities,

  • female interviewers, translators and interpreters,

  • trauma counselling for women who have experienced gender-based violence,

  • childcare during screening and asylum interviews,

  • information for women on their right to lodge an asylum claim, independently of their spouse and to have a legal status independent of that of their spouse,

  • gender-specific training for staff, and


  • legal assistance for women in reception centres.

End detention of children, pregnant women and rape victims

Detention of asylum seekers for mere administrative convenience violates the right to liberty, says the text. MEPs call for an end to the detention of children, of pregnant women seeking asylum, and of survivors of rape and sexual violence and trafficking.

They also reiterate the need to make available safe and legal routes to the EU, in order to improve the security and safety of women refugees and discourage smuggling, trafficking and exploitation by smugglers. Policies on irregular migration should not prevent access to EU asylum procedure, they add.

Gender mainstreaming

Parliament also approved a resolution on gender mainstreaming in the work of the European Parliament, drafted by Angelika Mlinar (ALDE, AT) by 453 votes to 173, with 79 abstentions.

Procedure:  non-legislative resolution

REF. : 20160303IPR16927
Updated: ( 18-03-2016 - 08:54)
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