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Women’s Asylum Appeals Project (WAAP)

Researchers: Jane Kerr

Project overview

Throughout the past decade, one third of UK asylum applicants fleeing human rights abuses have been women seeking asylum in their own right. Women are more likely to be refused asylum than men, and women who are initially refused asylum are more likely to have the decision overturned at appeal compared to male applicants. This suggests women are more likely to be subject erroneous initial decisions which could result in women being wrongly deported to a situation where they face sexual violence.

This study fills an important evidence gap by examining the factors underpinning the overturn of women’s asylum refusals on appeal. It involved qualitative interviews with 22 women and a range of stakeholders, including five support organisations, five legal representatives and four First-tier Tribunal judges. In addition, eight case files were analysed.

While the findings are qualitative in nature and it is not possible to generalise in terms of prevalence of the views and experiences expressed, they do shine a light on some of difficulties women face during the process and some of the features that could improve the experience of women and deliver better outcomes. The recommendations arising from the study  include reviewing and revising guidance for judges, encouraging the spread of current good practice by the judiciary, and making practical changes to the operation of tribunals to support women e.g., in the provision of childcare and in the use of skilled interpreters.  


  • Jane Kerr
    National Centre for Social Research

  • Director, Justice
    Nuffield Foundation
  • Director, Welfare
    Nuffield Foundation

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We aim to improve people’s lives by funding research that informs social policy, primarily in Education, Welfare and Justice. We also fund student programmes that give young people skills and confidence in science and research.

We are an open, collaborative and engaged funder that offers more than money. Through connecting the individual projects we fund, we strengthen their collective impact and give voice to an overarching narrative.