Women Exposed to Violence Eligible for Refugee Status, EU Court of Justice Rules

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The Court of Justice of the European Union has ruled that women who are exposed to violence due to their gender can qualify for refugee status and thus have the right to apply for international protection in the EU.

According to the court, women who, in their country of origin, on the basis of their gender, are exposed to physical or mental violence, including domestic and sexual violence, qualify for refugee status in the EU, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.

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.

EU Court of Justice

In case the conditions for granting refugee status are not met, the Court explained that women exposed to violence on the basis of their gender may qualify for subsidiary protection.

According to Info Migrants, the ruling of the EU Court of Justice comes after a national of Türkiye, who is of Kurdish origin, said that her family forced her to get married.

The Turkish national decided to escape to Bulgaria after being beaten up and threatened by her husband. Upon her arrival in Bulgaria, the Turkish national applied for international protection, and following her application, the Bulgarian court sought a decision on the matter by the EU Court of Justice.

However, the woman later left Bulgaria for Germany. Despite this, the Court made sure to clarify the rules, stressing that the eligibility criteria for acquiring refugee status in line with the EU law include instances of persecution based on race, nationality, religion, political beliefs, or affiliation with a specific social category.

Refugee status is to 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.

EU Court of Justice

The clarification of the Court was welcomed by several human rights organisations. As Info Migrants explains, Diana Dimova, the head of Mission Wings, which is a Bulgarian human rights non-governmental organisation, said that many women who are waiting for a decision on their asylum application had shared stories of gender-based violence in her consultation room.

She further stressed that some women have suffered years of violence, highlighting the importance of them being able to apply for international protection in the EU.

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