Places of Safety — Constructing Countries of Refuge
There is a range of evidence to suggest that asylum-seekers in the UK are fleeing dangerous situations in their countries of origin as shown in the previous chapter. These situations include persecution based on: gender (Crawley, 2010); sexual violence and the murder of family members (Sherwood & Liebling-Kalifani, 2012); torture (Behnia, 2004); and oppression and violence (Neumayer, 2005). A unifying characteristic of asylum-seekers is that they are from areas experiencing conflict and a lack of human rights. Taken together, this suggests that asylum-seekers were born into extremely dangerous countries and have been forced to leave for reasons of safety. In this chapter it is shown how refugees construct the UK as a place of refuge and — importantly — safety, which constitutes a specific place-identity (Durrheim & Dixon, 2005). While the UK is presented as a place of safety, it is not necessarily presented as a happy place or an ideal place to live, but safety is placed above this. While safety provides the main explanation for asylum-seekers coming to the UK, asylum-seekers’ claims about safety are not always accepted (the following chapter addresses the notion of the ‘bogus’ asylum-seeker who is deemed to be interested in financial gain), so claims about asylum-seekers being interested in safety are shown to be contested and debated. In addition to this, the safety of the UK as a host country is also debated, with some suggesting that asylum-seekers being housed in deprived communities can increase the safety in those areas, while others suggest that the presence of asylum-seekers can be damaging to safety.
KeywordsHost Country Sexual Violence High Security Safe Place Rhetorical Question
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