Sharp rise in refugees being recognised for gender-based persecution

Last year one in six refugees was recognised as an asylum seeker after they proved that they had been the subject on gender discrimination. The figure is up three-fold on the year. Most of the asylum seekers who fell into this category are women.

17% of the people that were recognised as refugees by the Commissariat-General for Refugees and the Stateless were recognised after they proved they faced discrimination or persecution as a result of their sex. Only five years ago this figure was a mere 6%.

The Belgian Asylum Secretary Maggie De Block (Flemish liberal): "A small segment is men who are discriminated against or persecuted because they are gay."

The grievances of female asylum seekers include forced marriages and genital mutilation.

Maggie De Block pointed to the fact that the women who fall into this last category were physically and mentally violated: "This can have far-reaching consequences for the rest of their lives including incontinence."

At present there is a big increase in the number of East European women seeking asylum in Belgium.

"Some single women in these countries are the victims of prostitution and people-smuggling networks" Asylum Secretary Maggie De Block told the daily De Standaard.

In January 8% of the people held in reception centres for asylum seekers were single women including girls.