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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Australia proposes new refugee law for women

Associated Press September 9, 2009 Australia's government proposed a new law Wednesday that would give asylum to immigrant women who would be at risk of genital mutilation or honor killings if forced to return to their homelands. Immigration Minister Chris Evans said such women did not always fit the definition of refugees under the United Nation's Refugees Convention because their persecution was not necessarily based on race, religion, nationality, social group or political opinion. The new legislation introduced to Parliament on Wednesday widens the criteria under which Australia can grant protection to asylum seekers. It was not clear when Parliament will vote on the legislation. The World Health Organization defines female genital mutilation, also known as female circumcision, as any procedures that intentionally alter or injure female genital organs for non-medical reasons. It estimates that 100 million to 140 million girls and women worldwide have had the procedure performed on them, most in African countries.