Event at UEL: The rights of women seeking asylum: The role of research and civic engagement in securing the rights of women to protection

MA in Refugee Studies
Feminist Research Group
Centre for Social Justice and Change
Seminar & Lecture Series

The rights of women seeking asylum:
The role of research and civic engagement in securing the rights of women to protection

Date: Monday, December 15, 2014
Time: 6 to 8 pm
Room: EB.G 07, Docklands Campus

All welcome!

Debora Singer MBE
Policy and Research Manager, Asylum Aid
Gabriella Bettiga
Immigration Solicitor, Lawrence Lupin Solicitors

This seminar engages with the question of how to secure the rights of women seeking asylum. In doing so, it examines why women’s experiences of persecution have tended to be excluded from the dominant interpretation of the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, and explores why women are often unable to benefit equitably from protection under the Refugee Convention. In the past decade, Asylum Aid has been working, lobbying and campaigning to secure the rights of women to protection under the Geneva Convention. Asylum Aid is a NGO based in London which provides free legal representation to asylum seekers and has a national profile in the UK.  Its Women’s Project, set up in 2000, aims to enable women fleeing serious human rights violations to gain protection in the UK through its casework, research, lobbying and campaigning. By discussing their work, the seminar will point to the way in which research and civic engagement can gradually bring the change and improve the lives of women seeking asylum.

Debora Singer is Policy and Research Manager at Asylum Aid where she has worked since May 2004.  She manages the Women’s Project and lobbies and campaigns on issues affecting women asylum seekers.  As part of this work, Debora launched the Charter of rights of women seeking asylum in 2008, to persuade the UK to adopt a gender sensitive asylum system.

Before joining Asylum Aid, Debora worked as Policy Manager at Victim Support focusing on issues of sexual violence, domestic violence and human rights as they affected victims of crime.  In 2006 she obtained a distinction for her Masters degree in Refugee Studies at University of East London. Asylum Aid published her MA Dissertation research on women asylum seekers and international human rights mechanisms, which has had an impact on various campaigns and policy documents. Debora has become well known for her persistence and enthusiasm in lobbying strategically and achieving long term impacts. A well-respected campaigner, responsible for a series of creative campaigns on the rights of women seeking asylum Debora was awarded an MBE for services to women in the 2012 New Year Honours List.

Her most recent publications include chapters in edited volumes: Gender in Refugee Law: From the Margins to the Centre, Arbel, E. et al. Eds. Routledge 2014; and Moving in the Shadows: Violence in the lives of minority women and children, Rehman, Y. et al. Eds. Ashgate 2013.

Gabriella Bettiga, is an Immigration Solicitor at Lawrence Lupin Solicitors since 2003. She is Head of the firm’s Supervisors, as well as Manager of the fast-track and detention scheme. She is in charge of the firm’s training programme and regularly delivers training courses.

Her private casework has included the points-based system as well as human rights, asylum and outside-the-rules applications. She also regularly deals with Judicial Reviews and Court of Appeal matters. Gabriella studied an LLM in Human Rights (in particular the rights of the child), Islamic law, Immigration and Asylum law at the School of Oriental and African Studies.

Gabriella is a Trustee at Asylum Aid and a member of the Women’s Project Committee promoting the Women’s Asylum Charter. She has been involved with various NGOs in several projects and policy work in relation to gender issues in asylum claims and detention.


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