Uncovering the failures of the asylum system faced by refugee victims of sexual and gender-based violence

In 2020, over 82 million people were forcibly displaced. Just under half were female. Of these, as many as 50% have experienced sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV). Now, the conflict in Ukraine has displaced at least 10 million people, most of them female.

After arriving in the UK many forced migrants are trapped in the asylum system for years. The policies and practices within the system are often harmful; as many as 50% of forced migrants encounter some experience of SGBV along their journey, but also once they reach refuge. With the refugee crisis ongoing, and many trying to find home in host countries, more forced migrant victims of SGBV are at risk of experiencing deteriorating mental and physical health.

When refuge isn't safe: changing asylum policy and transforming lives

The SEREDA Project aims to understand the nature and incidence of SGBV experienced by forced migrants who have fled conflict. The project is led by Professor Jenny Phillimore from the Institute for Research into Superdiversity, and offers recommendations on changes to the UK’s Victims’ Bill to better protect forced migrant victims of SGBV. 

Read our current policy recommendations

Professor Jenny Phillimore

The project lifts the lid on the treatment of forced migrant SGBV victims in the UK. Findings from 68 interviews with victims, and 26 experts working with them, have enabled the project to uncover failings within immigration and asylum systems that generate further harm and trauma, and extreme poverty or destitution.

The project offers policy recommendations setting out how systems could be improved to protect, rather than harm, vulnerable victims.

The project is being conducted in partnership with national and international charities providing services and support to refugees who have experienced violence, including the Women’s Refugee Commission, Doctors of the World, Refugee Women Connect and the Baobab Project.

Unfiltered Lives - When refuge isn't safe
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