PUBLI : Jane Freedman, Nina Sahraoui, Elsa Tyszler, « Asylum, Racism, and the Structural Production of Sexual Violence against Racialised Women in Exile in Paris », Social Sciences, vol. 11, n° 10, 2022


The recent arrival of refu­gees from Ukraine has thrown into sharp focus the racia­lised colo­nial under­pin­nings of the French asylum and refugee system, as the open-door welcome afforded to Ukrai­nians, suppo­sedly “closer” to the French popu­la­tion, high­lights the rejec­tion and margi­na­li­sa­tion of “others” who seek refuge in the country. The current situa­tion lays bare not only the “double stan­dards” applied to refu­gees depen­ding on their country of origin and race, but also the colo­nial foun­da­tions of the French asylum system as a whole. This might be seen as parti­cu­larly signi­fi­cant in a country where even within academic research on asylum and refu­gees the racial and colo­nial foun­da­tions of the current system are rarely mentioned, and where the prin­ciple of Repu­blican univer­sa­lism has been consis­tently used to both hide and justify racia­lised and gendered forms of inequa­lity and discri­mi­na­tion. In this contri­bu­tion we wish to explore the ways in which the colo­nia­lity of the French asylum system works to deny exiled women access to welfare and social services, crea­ting systems of racia­lised and gendered violence against them. We high­light the ways in which the State not only neglects these women, but acti­vely contri­butes to violence through its racia­lised neo-liberal poli­cies. The with­drawal of access to welfare and social services, inclu­ding housing, welfare payments or health services, all form a part of this system of struc­tural violence which leads to increa­sing levels of harm. Based on ethno­gra­phic research carried out in the Paris region, our article aims to empha­sise that the struc­tural produc­tion of gendered violence, parti­cu­larly sexual violence against racia­lised exiled women, illus­trates the colo­nia­lity of the asylum system and more broadly of the migra­tion regime, which mani­fests itself in poli­cies of exclu­sion, neglect and endangerment—including death.

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