N. v. Sweden

N and her husband X applied for asylum after arriving in Sweden, claiming persecution in Afghanistan because of X’s political position. The asylum application being rejected, N appealed claiming that, as she had in the meantime separated from her husband, she would risk social exclusion and possibly death if she returned to Afghanistan. Her appeal was also rejected. She applied for a residence permit three times, as well as for divorce from X., submitting that she was at an ever-heightened risk of persecution in Afghanistan, as she had started an extra-marital relationship with a man in Sweden which was punishable by long imprisonment or even death in her country of origin. All her applications were rejected. While being aware of reports of serious human rights violations in Afghanistan, the Court did not find that they showed, on their own, that there would be a violation of the Convention if N were to return to that country. Examining N.'s personal situation, however, the Court noted that women were at a particularly heightened risk of ill-treatment in Afghanistan if they were perceived as not conforming to the gender roles ascribed to them by society, tradition or the legal system there. The mere fact that N had lived in Sweden might well be perceived as her having crossed the line of acceptable behavior. The fact that she wanted to divorce her husband, and in any event did not want to live with him any longer, might result in serious life-threatening repercussions upon her return to Afghanistan. Among other things, the Court noted that a recent law, the Shiite Personal Status Act of April 2009, required women to obey their husbands' sexual demands and not to leave home without permission. Reports had further shown that around 80 % of Afghani women were affected by domestic violence, acts which the authorities saw as legitimate and therefore did not prosecute. Unaccompanied women, or women without a male "tutor", faced continuous severe limitations to having a personal or professional life, and were doomed to social exclusion. They also often plainly lacked the means for survival if not protected by a male relative. Consequently, the Court found that if N were deported to Afghanistan, Sweden would be in violation of Article 3.



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