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Report: More males than females granted asylum in Finland in 2015

In 2015 female asylum seekers were more likely to have their asylum applications rejected by immigration officials of Nordic countries than their male counterparts, according to a fresh report by the Nordic Council of Ministers. But a Finnish Immigration Service official says that male-to-female asylum ratios will be quite different for 2016.

Nainen tutkii maahanmuuttoviraston infopakettia liittyen turvapaikan hakemiseen Suomesta.
File photo. Image: Tiina Jutila / Yle

In 2015 some 60 percent of males who applied for asylum in Finland were granted residence permits - but for female asylum seekers that figure stood at 55 percent, according to a new report issued by the Nordic Council of Ministers.

Often, the discrepancies between male and female applicants' asylum decisions is due to males having more grounds for being granted asylum, according to Tirsa Forssell, the head of legal support at the Finnish Immigration Service's asylum department.

"Women are often co-applicants [with a man]. In other words, they're dependent upon the result the man receives. And often men also have more reasons to apply for asylum," Forssell said. "The reasons [for men] include their occupation and their position in the military, sexual orientation and religion."

Different ratios anticipated in 2016

However, Forssell said that people shouldn't draw any conclusions about the current situation, saying that the study only included figures from last year.

According to her, the figures for 2016 will be different.

"46.9 percent of all women have been granted asylum and 32.1 percent of men," Forssell said, adding that in some ways it can be said that it is easier for women to be granted asylum because they are often in vulnerable situations.

It was immigration researcher Outi Lepola that the Nordic Council of Ministers requested to lay out the gender-based statistics. She said that while she doesn't know the factors behind the disparities themselves, the data she found point to deficiencies in the asylum process overall.

Across all Nordic countries, the study found that female applicants were not automatically granted interviews by female immigration workers, despite that the practice is recommended by the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Officially, female applicants also have the right to be interviewed without their children present so they can freely talk about threats at home.

Issues that female applicants have that can be hard for officials to identify include honour-related violence, female genital mutilation and forced marriages.

The Immigration Service's Forssell said she doesn't see any shortcomings in the asylum process at her agency, saying that their personnel are trained in interviewing methods and trained to take note of particularly vulnerable groups.

Forssell said that when needed, the agency organises child minders and female interviewers for female applicants.

She said however that it is not always possible for female applicants to be interviewed by a female staff member automatically.

"There isn't always the possibility for that but we do re-schedule interviews if we deem it necessary, or if there is such a request," Forssell said.

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