Germany - Administrative Court Stuttgart, 18 January 2011, A 6 K 615/10

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An unmarried woman with a “Western“ lifestyle, who is not religious and has no financial means, is at risk of gender based persecution by non-State actors in case of return to Iraq (continuation of the court’s case law, compare decision of 26 June 2007. A 6 K 394/07)


The applicant is an Iraqi citizen of Arab ethnicity and Sunnite belief. She entered Germany by land in November 2009 and applied for asylum under German law and refugee status. She stated that she was unmarried and had lived most recently in Kirkuk. Her parents and her brother were killed in October 2009 because of her father, who had previously received threats. Her father was a member of the Baath-party in in the past. In case of return to Iraq she would be helpless and be left on her own. She did not wear a headscarf and appreciates Western values. For these reasons she would be at risk of gender based persecution in Iraq.

Decision & Reasoning: 

The court found:

It is not necessary to decide if the applicant would be at risk of persecution by non-State actors because of her father’s political activities.

It is decisive that she would be at a high risk of gender based political persecution by non-State actors, namely in the whole national territory, without the State or international organisations being able to protect her (Section 60 (1) sentence (1), (3) and (4) (c) of the  Residence Act).

The situation of women, compared to the situation during the Saddam-Hussein-regime, has partially worsened. Tendencies to enforce Islamic rules, for example dress regulations, have increased. Muslim and Christian women are increasingly pressurised, their freedom of movement and opportunities to participate in public life are restricted. There are many indications that in practice “honour killings” are  widespread and still unpunished to a large extent. The increasing radicalisation of parts of the Iraqi society towards fundamentalist radical-Islamic convictions threatens in particular the security of women.  

A Western life style is a significant breach of customary norms in Kurdish administered North-Iraq. This results in massive pressure and exclusion. A woman, whose conduct is labeled as “dishonourable”, is exposed increasingly to sexual advances and harassments. Violent attacks by male relatives, including “honour killings” cannot be excluded from occuring. To a large extent, the situation of women with a “Western” orientation outside the Kurdish administered region is even much more difficult. 

The Iraqi State does not provide sufficient protection from such acts of persecution. The conduct towards women with a “Western” orientation as described above is firmly established in the Iraqi male-dominated society, so the state sees no reason to take action against it. 

Such persecution would affect the applicant as well. She gave the court the impression of a self-confident young woman, oriented towards a Western lifestyle, who would like to stand on her own feet and who is a Sunnite on paper only .

Furthermore, the court believes the applicant that she does not have anybody in Iraq to give her shelter, since her father, as a result of his behaviour, has alienated  her relatives, who have turned away from her family and the family did not have any friends. Therefore, in case of return to Iraq, she would be left to her own devices. She would soon give offence, even if she would bow, against her own will, to the local dress regulations. Being an unmarried unreligious woman without relatives and friends, and without financial means (her jewellery and her money were given away for her journey to Germany), it is highly likely that she would soon become the focus of fundamentalists. This would result in the serious repression described above, without the prospect of protection against persecution. Therefore, she is eligible for refugee status.


The authorities were obliged to grant the applicant refugee status.


By decision of 10 December 2008, the Administrative Court München held that an unmarried woman with a “Western” lifestyle is not at risk of gender based political persecution by non-State actors (M 8 K 07.51028,