CJEU: Women can claim asylum due to gender-based violence

CJEU: Women can claim asylum due to gender-based violence

Women can claim asylum in EU countries on the basis they face gender-based violence in their country of origin, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has ruled.

The court this week handed down judgment in a case referred by a Bulgarian court concerning a Kurdish woman who said she feared for her life if she had to return to Turkey.

The woman, who is a Turkish national, a Muslim and divorced, sought international protection in Bulgaria. She said she was forced to marry by her family and was beaten and threatened by her husband.

Under EU Directive 2011/95, refugee status must be granted in cases where a third-country national is persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership of a particular social group.

In the Grand Chamber judgment, the CJEU found that the Directive must be interpreted consistently with the Istanbul Convention, which is binding on the EU and recognises gender-based violence against women as a form of persecution.

The court also found that women, as a whole, may be regarded as belonging to a social group within the meaning of Directive 2011/95. Consequently, they may qualify for refugee status where, in their country of origin, they are exposed, on account of their gender, to physical or mental violence, including sexual violence and domestic violence.

If the conditions for granting refugee status are not satisfied, they may qualify for subsidiary protection, including where there is a real risk of being killed or subjected to acts of violence inflicted by a member of their family or community due to the alleged transgression of cultural, religious or traditional norms.

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