Denmark - the Refugee Appeals Board’s decision of 16 January 2017

Country of Decision:
Country of Applicant:
Date of Decision:
Court Name:
The Refugee Appeals Board
National / Other Legislative Provisions:
Denmark - The Danish Aliens Act Art. 7
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The applicant was granted refugee status under the Danish Aliens Act Art. 7 (1) because of the threat of forced marriage in Afghanistan. The applicant belonged to the particular social group of “widows in risk of forced marriage”. The Afghan State is neither willing nor able to protect women against persecution in case of forced marriage. Internal protection was not available to the applicant.


The applicant, born in 1990, is an Afghan citizen, ethnic Pashtun and Sunni Muslim. She came to Denmark in October 2015 and applied for refugee status. She stated that she feared if returned to Afghanistan her in-laws would kill her because she fled from an attempt of forced marriage with the brother of her deceased husband’s father, who is Chairman of the Council of Elders. In support of her application, she has referred to the killing of her husband six years ago. It is unknown why her husband was killed, but she assumed that the killer was the brother of her husband’s father as he would inherit the husband’s land. After the husband was killed the applicant had a difficult time as she had to work as a servant for the brother of the husband’s father and his family. The brother of the husband’s father was violent towards her, once raped her and on several occasions attempted to rape her. When his wife died, he wanted to marry the applicant. He threatened to spread rumours in the village that she had had adulterous behaviour if she did not marry him. The applicant departed from Afghanistan seven or eight months after the brother of her husband’s father first mentioned marriage.

The Danish Immigration Service rejected the asylum application in October 2016.

Decision & Reasoning: 

The account of the applicant has been established by the Refugee Appeals Board.

The board accepted that the brother of the late husband’s father and after his wife’s death wanted to marry the applicant, and that he, as Chairman of the Council of Elders, would be granted permission to marry her. The Board further accepted and emphasised that the applicant while living in his house was exposed to abuse including rape. Finally, the Board accepted that the applicant fled from her in-laws, and that neither the Afghan authorities nor her own family in Kabul could provide her with protection.

Based on country of origin information and the fact that the applicant is a widow, the board found that the applicant, to a sufficient degree, had rendered probable that if she was returned to Afghanistan she would be in risk of being handed over to the family she fled from and exposed to abuse. The Board therefore granted the applicant refugee status under the Danish Aliens Act Art. 7 (1), because she, as a widow, was in risk of forced marriage due to her membership of a particular social group.


The applicant was granted refugee status under the Danish Aliens Act Art. 7 (1).