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A historic resolution recognizing the rights of trafficked women

Monday, 28 October 2013
Carmen de Miguel, Global Citizenship Coordinator @ Carmenmigueljua


On October 21, Spain granted first asylum to a victim of trafficking. The woman, a young Nigerian, came to Spain across the Strait by boat, after a trip to Africa two years in which she was forced into prostitution, suffered numerous violations and was forcibly subjected to abort twice with insecure means. Back in Spain, he was contacted by the mafia of human trafficking, which demanded payment of a debt of 20,000 euros, should pay through sexual exploitation.

Since coming to Spain pregnant three years ago, the Red Cross accompanied the process and presented asylum application as a victim of a network for the purpose of sexual exploitation. On Monday, the Office for Asylum and Refuge dependent Ministry of the InteriorGranted him asylum in our country, which extends protection to her three years.

Is a milestone in the struggle for recognition of the protection of victims of trafficking and their childrenBecause even though the Spanish asylum law in force since 2009 expressly introduce gender persecution as a legitimate reason for granting asylum, in practice it was not granted any request.

The Geneva Convention on Refugees, 1951 defines a refugee as "a person who owing to well founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, Is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country ".

The Geneva Convention not expected among the reasons for seeking asylum which a person is persecuted for reasons of gender. However, since the mid-80s, from the UNHCR began to recommend that States might interpret the persecution that gender had no place within the persecutions by "membership of a particular social group" under the Geneva Convention.

Despite these recommendations, States have been reluctant to recognize as refugees those women who claimed persecution based on gender. What lies at the bottom is the male bias interpretation of asylum legislation, modeled from the human to the man, and as the paradigmatic persecution suffered by men pursued by an agent of the state in the public sphere.

The damage inflicted on women (trafficking for sexual exploitation, male violence in couples, female genital mutilation, honor killings, rape, forced sterilization or abortion, etc) normally not produced by an agent of the state but by private agents (Husband, family, relatives, community). Nor occur in the public sphere, but in the private and are therefore harder counted as damage enough to be recognized as legitimate the persecution and granting international protection (asylum and subsidiary protection) entity.

The Spanish case has been inching in this direction and has been recognized that certain kinds of violence against women, while violations of human rights of women should be considered persecution, and therefore women must be recognized as refugees from persecution based on gender.

Sin embargo una de las mayores reticencias por parte de los Estados y Tribunales se ha manifestado en relación con la trata de mujeres para la explotación sexual. Existe una tendencia a denegar el derecho de asilo y la condición de persona refugiada a mujeres víctimas de trata para la explotación sexual por parte de los tribunales, por considerar la trata como una conducta criminal y no como persecución.

Until the enactment of this resolution by the Ministry of Interior which recognizes the need for international protection to women victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation, trafficking for sexual exploitation was not recognized as persecution in Spain. Most cases on trafficking were channeled in the best case, through the immigration law by granting a residence permit for exceptional circumstances.

With this resolution opens the access of women victims to a series of rights granted to refugees:

a) tratamiento idéntico a las personas nacionales en las siguientes materias: libertad de enseñanza religiosa a los/as niños/as (artículo 4); propiedad intelectual (artículo 14); derecho de acceso a los tribunales (artículo 16); enseñanza primaria (artículo 22); asistencia pública (artículo 23); legislación de trabajo y seguridad social (artículo 24); gravámenes fiscales (artículo 29);

b) tratamiento más favorable dado a aquellas personas provenientes de un país extranjero en las siguientes materias: derechos de asociación (artículo 15) y ejercicio de profesiones por cuenta ajena (artículo 17);

c) tratamiento que no será menos favorable que el aplicado a personas extranjeras en general en las siguientes materias: adquisición de propiedad mobiliaria e inmobiliaria (artículo 13); ejercicio de profesiones no asalariadas (artículo 18) o liberales (artículo 19); alojamiento (artículo 21); enseñanza diferente de la primaria (artículo 22) y libertad de circulación (artículo 26);

d) ausencia de sanciones penales en caso de entrada o de estancia irregular en el país de acogida cuando la persona refugiada llegue directamente desde el país en que su vida esté amenazada (artículo 31);

f) Procedural safeguards relating to expulsion (Article 32). Furthermore, the GC prescribe States provide to refugees of identity documents (Article 27) of a travel (Article 28) and facilitate their assimilation and naturalization them (Article 34).

Along with all these rights granted refugee women enjoy the protection against refoulement to a country where they may suffer persecution (principle of non-refoulement).

Alliance for Solidarity as an organization that working for the rights of migrants and refugees are recognized, se felicita por el contenido de esta resolución, al entender que ha primado una interpretación feminista de la legislación que puede open the door to recognition as refugees of other women in similar circumstances. En definitiva supone un paso adelante al configurar este tipo de violencia contra las mujeres como una violación de derechos humanos y no como una cuestión privada.

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