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Gender-(in)sensitivity in credibility assessments of applications based on sexual or gender-based violence in the European asylum procedure

This research will analyse gender-(in)sensitivities in credibility assessments of applications based on sexual or gender-based violence in the European asylum procedure.

“… [T]he applicant is now [28] years old[,]… received a progressive education and clearly expressed her opposition to [female genital mutilation (FGM)]. … [she] cannot be considered a particularly vulnerable young woman … [running] a real risk of being re-excised if returned to Guinea.” With these words, the European Court of Human Rights judged a Guinean asylum seeker’s fear of sexual or gender-based persecution as not credible. The key reason for refusal of asylum applications based on sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) is their non-credibility. These credibility assessments are often based on stereotypical, superficial, erroneous, or inappropriate perceptions of gender. In the criminal justice system, such perceptions have been conceptualised as ‘rape myths’: prejudicial, stereotyped or false beliefs about rape. The hypothesis that this phenomenon occurs across different social and institutional contexts raises the question: ‘Which insights can be drawn from applying the rape mythology concept to the context of credibility assessments of SGBV asylum applications in the European asylum procedure?’ (going beyond only ‘rape’ as a type of SGBV). In order to formulate an answer, this research adopts a mixed method approach, basing its data collection on 3 complementary resources: the existing literature (through a literature analysis), the asylum authorities (through a case law study and a self-reporting KAP survey) and the asylum seekers themselves (through qualitative interviews). This triangulation of input will not only innovatively expand the understanding of the asylum procedure and its challenges. It will also contribute to the further theorization of rape mythology and of new myths applying to new asylum-specific types of SGBV.

Source illustration:

  • Prof. Ines Keygnaert
Sponsored by
  • FWO (2021-2025)


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