New leaflet to help asylum-seeking women overcome violence and abuse

Media Release

For immediate release

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

New advice leaflet will help asylum seeking women
overcome violence and abuse

Key researcher Cathy Zimmermann in Glasgow tomorrow
(Wednesday 2 December) and available for interviews

A new information leaflet produced by Scottish Refugee Council in association with the London School of Tropical Medicine will help asylum-seeking women who have experienced violence, depression and stress to access help and support.

The leaflet, ‘Asylum-Seeking Women, Violence and Health’, is the result of recent research carried out by the Gender Violence Unit of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Scottish Refugee Council. Its publication coincides with the global 16 Days of Action for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, which began on 25 November.

The research revealed that 22 per cent of the women surveyed had attempted suicide. Fifty seven per cent were suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – which may make it difficult to remember important details of their asylum claim.

Simon Hodgson, Director of Policy and Communications at Scottish Refugee Council, said: “This leaflet will help ensure asylum-seeking women are aware of their rights, as well as detailing what services exist in Scotland to help them deal with traumatic and distressing experiences.

“We hope that our leaflet will be backed at government level by actions that will improve the way the system addresses women’s health and protection needs.”

Cathy Zimmermann, research co-author from the London School of Tropical Medicine’s Gender Violence Unit, said: “It is alarming that seven in ten women reported physical or sexual violence. It is particularly disturbing that a number of these women were abused while in the UK - a place they came to for safety. 

"High levels of post-traumatic stress, depression and suicide attempts indicate that asylum-seeking women are suffering symptoms similar to torture victims.” 

For more information contact Karin Goodwin or Clare Harris on 0141 223 7927/07734 030 763



Notes to Editors


  • The advice leaflet is available in six languages by clicking on this link:


  • The research report, Asylum Seeking Women and Health, was published in September 2009. A full copy in PDF format is available on our website by clicking on the following link


  • The research was carried out between February 2007 and July 2008 in Scotland and Belgium. 46 women seeking asylum were interviewed in Scotland, from 49 countries - the majority of whom were from the African region, aged 30 and above with secondary or higher levels of education. These interviews produced the following key statistics:


70% of women reported having experienced physical and/or sexual violence in their lifetime

57% of women were above the cut-point for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

22% had tried to take their own life at some point

20% reported suicidal thoughts in the seven days before being interviewed

50% reported difficulty remembering things



  • Scottish Refugee Council provides help and advice to those who have fled human rights abuses or other persecution in their homeland and now seek refuge in Scotland. We campaign to ensure that the UK Government meets its international, legal and humanitarian obligations and to raise awareness of refugee issues. For more information see