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Khawar v Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs [1999] FCA 1529 (5 November 1999)

Federal Court: Branson J
Keywords: refugees; particular social group; well-founded fear of persecution; domestic violence

Summary

The applicants were a Pakistani national and her three children who sought protection on the basis of the mother being a victim of domestic violence at the hands of her husband and his family.  The mother claimed she had repeatedly made complaints to the police for assistance but that she was ignored.  The applicants’ submission was rejected by the Refugee Review Tribunal (RRT).  The RRT found that the mother was a victim of domestic violence but that this did not amount to having a well-founded fear of persecution under the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees as the husband was not targeting her due to her membership of a particular social group. 

Feminist judgment

The Federal Court reversed the RRT decision on the basis that the RRT had failed to consider the facts of the case within the context of the purposes of the Convention and the Migration Act when determining the applicant’s claim. Identifying the applicant’s membership of a particular social group – i.e. women or married women in Pakistan – would have enabled the RRT to understand her treatment in the context of the status of women and social attitudes towards domestic violence in Pakistan, and to find that she had a well-founded fear of persecution in that context.  The High Court affirmed the decision in Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs v Khawar (2002) 210 CLR 1.