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"Supporting Sanctuary: Ending Harms in British, Danish and Swedish Asylum Systems" – a lecture by Victoria Canning


For people seeking asylum in Northern Europe, reaching a safe country is the main goal. However, as this presentation argues, many people face unexpected and unduly harsh realities: poverty, poor healthcare, racism and Islamophobia can make life incredibly difficult. Likewise, many policies and social attitudes have become more hostile toward migrants, resulting in harmful laws and practices.

This paper outlines findings from a study based in Britain, Denmark and Sweden. It argues that hostile attitudes and environments compound – or make worse – the impacts of violence, torture and sexual abuse. At the same time, social and psychological support is reduced, leaving people in an unsupported limbo.

So how might we collectively make positive changes? How do we challenge harmful policies and practices? How will we collectively imagine a future where harms are avoided, and people seeking sanctuary are welcomed with support rather than hostility?

Dr. Victoria Canning is a lecturer and ESRC Research Fellow in Criminology at The Open University, UK. She is co-ordinater of the 'Prisons, Punishment and Detention' working group, trustee at Statewatch, author of 'Gendered Harm and Structural Violence in the British Asylum System', and co-editor for 'Migrant Artists Mutual Aid: Strategies for Survival, Recipes for Resistance'.

Everyone is welcome, free admission!