Who is Worthy of Protection?: Gender-Based Asylum and U.S. Immigration Politics

ISBN : 9780199397624

Meghana Nayak
272 Pages
161 x 242 mm
Pub date
Oct 2015
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A surprisingly understudied topic in international relations is that of gender-based asylum, even though the tactic has been adopted in an increasing number of countries in the global north and west. Those adjudicating gender-based asylum cases must investicate the specific category of gender violence committed against the asylum-seeker, as well as the role of the asylum-seeker's home state in being complicit with such violence. As Nayak argues, it matters not just that but how we respond to gender violence and persecution. Feminist advocates, U.S. governmental officials, and asylum adjudicators have articulated different "frames" for different types of gender violence, promoting ideas about how to categorize violence, its causes, and who counts as its victims. These frames, in turn, may be used successfully to grant asylum to persecuted migrants; however, the frames are also very narrow and limited. This is because the U.S. must negotiate the tension between immigration restriction and human rights obligations to protect refugees from persecution. The effects of the asylum frames are two-fold. First, they leave out or distort the stories and experiences of asylum-seekers who do not "fit" the frames. Second, the frames reflect but also serve as an entry point to deepen, strengthen, and shape the U.S. position of power relative to other countries, international organizations, and immigrant communities. This book explores the politics of gender-based asylum through a comparative examination of asylum policy and cases regarding domestic violence, female circumcision, rape, trafficking, coercive sterilization/abortion, and persecution based on sexual and gender identity.


Chapter 1: Introduction
Chapter 2: Understanding the Tension between the Protection and Restriction of Non-Citizens
Chapter 3: The Autonomous Worthy Victim Frame: Comparing Female Genital Cutting and Domestic Violence
Chapter 4: The Innocent Worthy Victim Frame: Comparing Trafficking and Coercive Sterilization/Abortion
Chapter 5: The Always Deviant LGBTQ Asylum Seekers
Chapter 6: Feminist Possibilities of Scholarship and Advocacy
Chapter 7: Conclusions

About the author: 

Meghana Nayak is Associate Professor of Political Science at Pace University.

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