Monday, September 30, 2019
Podcast: Law Professor Discusses Gender and US Asylum Law and the Difference Feminist Legal Thought Made
Aziza Ahmed: Hi, this is Aziza Ahmed. I’m a law professor at Northeastern University’s School of Law, and I’m so happy to be talking to Deborah Anker today as part of the Signs “Ask a Feminist” series. Deborah, thank you so much for taking the time to be with us on this podcast today.
Deborah Anker: My pleasure.
AA: Your work has been so instrumental in helping advocates and lawyers acknowledge the complexity that gender brings to immigration and asylum law.
AA: I was curious to hear from you about when you felt like feminism really came to immigrants’ rights work. I’m sure in communities themselves it was there…
DA: I really thank the women’s movement for challenging the public-private distinction. That was key. And we learned that from the women’s movement—that so-called “private acts of violence” were of public concern and of human-rights concern, or were human rights violations. That was incredibly important.
AA: And became foundational to the types of gender-based asylum claims…
DA: It became very, very foundational for the cases that we brought. It was really the women’s movement that made us start thinking about it. People would come in and we would interview the man and find out what his problems were. We never thought that what happened to women would rise to the level of persecution or would be considered persecution by the adjudicators and by the authorities. That was incredibly important. That rape could constitute prosecution, that “private acts of violence” could constitute prosecution. I think we now understand that being forced to leave your child as a form of persecution.