Eritrean Women Asylum Seekers in Israel: From a Politics of Rescue to Feminist Accountability

Citation:

Ghebrezghiabher, Habtom M., and Pnina Motzafi-Haller. 2015. “Eritrean Women Asylum Seekers in Israel: From a Politics of Rescue to Feminist Accountability." Journal of Refugee Studies 28 (4): 570-594.

Authors: Habtom M. Ghebrezghiabher, Pnina Motzafi-Haller

Abstract:

Despite acclaimed gender equality during the struggle for liberation and post independence in their country, the entrenched system of gender-based inequality has forced many Eritrean women to flee their country. On their difficult flight and during their journey, Eritrean women were exposed to blackmail, sexual abuse and rape. Those who made it through the difficult journey sought asylum in Israel but have not been able to escape gender violation and discrimination in their host state. This article traces the experience of Eritrean woman asylum seekers in Israel from the moment of their escape from Eritrea, through their torturous journey and after their entry into a state that refuses to consider their right to refugee status. Data were obtained using in-depth interviews with women asylum seekers in Israel, records of radio interviews and Paltalk discussions in the Tigrigna language, and close reading of unpublished reports by human rights activists and of Hebrew-language Israeli newspapers. Analysis of these diverse bodies of data reveals that gender is largely ignored by the few scholars who attempted to document the Eritrean asylum seekers experience in Israel. Drawing on post-colonial feminist Canadian scholar Sherene Razack (1999), who urges us to develop 'a more political understanding of why women flee', we examine here the experience of Eritrean women asylum seekers in Israel within a critical feminist analytical framework that documents their agency within changing historical and political circumstances and forces. We use this larger historically specific framework to disengage from the trope of 'pity and rescue' and offer instead a critical examination of how Eritrean women act as agents from the moment they decide to flee their country and until they settle in Israel. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]

Topics: Armed Conflict, National Liberation Wars, Displacement & Migration, Migration, Gender, Women, Gender-Based Violence, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Violence Regions: East Africa, Asia, Middle East Countries: Eritrea, Israel

Year: 2015

© 2017 CONSORTIUM ON GENDER, SECURITY & HUMAN RIGHTSLEGAL STATEMENT All photographs used on this site, and any materials posted on it, are the property of their respective owners, and are used by permission. Photographs: The images used on the site may not be downloaded, used, or reproduced in any way without the permission of the owner of the image. Materials: Visitors to the site are welcome to peruse the materials posted for their own research or for educational purposes. These materials, whether the property of the Consortium or of another, may only be reproduced with the permission of the owner of the material. This website contains copyrighted materials. The Consortium believes that any use of copyrighted material on this site is both permissive and in accordance with the Fair Use doctrine of 17 U.S.C. § 107. If, however, you believe that your intellectual property rights have been violated, please contact the Consortium at info@genderandsecurity.org.