Becoming woman/woman becoming: gender in the context of irregular and undocumented migration and sexual and gender based violence (SGBV)

Stream: Cultural Constructions and (Re)Conceptualisations
Date: Thursday, 12 February 2015
Time: 1.45 pm – 3.30 pm


This paper considers gender-based violence and sexual exploitation in the context of irregular migration. The paper is informed by empirical research on the everyday circumstances of women and girls who are in irregular or undocumented circumstances in the Asia-Pacific region. The invisibility and ‘rightlessness’ experienced by irregular and undocumented migrants is a set of circumstances intensified for women and girls. The hidden realities of daily life lead to survival strategies that include enslavement, sexual exploitation and violence and survival sex. The paper explores the SGBV initiatives of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the corresponding Safe from the Start program for displaced persons. The paper interprets evidence of the circumstances of women and girl irregular migrants through a theoretical lens that navigates the distinctions of human/inhuman/posthuman alongside a critical ‘politics of becoming’. This theorization, building on the work of scholars such as Judith Butler, Rosi Braidotti, Nira Yuval-Davis and Bonnie Honig, considers the space for woman in such theorization, asking whether human rights are sufficiently gendered.


Claudia Tazreiter (Presenter), UNSW
Claudia Tazreiter is a senior lecturer in sociology at the University of New South Wales. Her research focuses on forced and irregular migration, human rights, the role of non-governmental organizations and civil society in social change and gendered forms of violence. She is the author of Asylum Seekers and the State. The Politics of Protection in a Security-Conscious World, and co-editor of Globalisation and Social Transformation in Two Culturally Diverse Societies: The Australian and Malaysian Experience (with Tham Siew Yean). She is managing editor of The Australian Journal of Human Rights and an associate of the Australian Human Rights Centre.