Cite as: Bastaki, J., 2019, “Not without my daughter”: EU asylum law, gender, and the separation of refugee families, Refugee Survey Quarterly, 38 (3):266–289.https://doi.org/10.1093/rsq/hdz006
When refugee families arrive in Europe and the children are over 18 years of age, in most cases, they are assessed separately for their asylum claim. Where applicants want to apply for family reunification, only spouses and minors who wish to be reunified with adult family members can automatically do so. This has caused problems for adult women who want to remain a part of their family or be reunified with family members in other European Union States. There is evidence that single women are more vulnerable to gender-based violence, whether in the refugee camps or on the dangerous journey from their homes to Europe, but that reason is not sufficient for family reunification. Through interviews with Arab women seeking to be reunified with their families, this article analyses the impact of the laws in the European Union, and specifically in Greece, on female asylum-seekers reaching the Greek island of Lesvos. It argues that the asylum laws have negative humanitarian consequences on asylum-seeking families, and because the act of seeking protection is different than other forms of migration, previous family structures should be recognised if the asylum-seeking woman so wishes, in order to ensure that these women are not made vulnerable.
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