Stateless Women at Higher Risk for Abuse
Friday, December 16, 2011 2:15 PM

United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has asked nations around the globe to address a major cause of statelessness: nationality laws that discriminate against women. Those without a nationality are at an increased risk of trafficking and exploitation, especially women. Further, stateless individuals are often denied access to health care, the right to own property, and even the ability to open a bank account. Stateless children are regularly denied access to schools. Approximately 12 million people worldwide are not considered citizens by any country, and the problems faced by all are exacerbated for women.

Clinton cited 30 nations that have laws denying women the ability to acquire, retain, or transfer citizenship to children and spouses. Some countries revoke citizenship of women who marry non-citizen spouses. Without citizenship and the benefits that derive from it, women are more vulnerable to trafficking, abuse, exploitation, arbitrary arrest, and detention. Children who are not issued birth certificates are even more vulnerable to mistreatment. Clinton’s remarks to the United Nations Refugee Agency echo sentiments of the 1954 Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons and the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness. Only 68 and 40 countries have ratified the conventions, respectively.

Compiled from: Nguyen, Katie, Discriminatory Laws Leave Stateless Women Open to Abuse – US, AlertNet (7 December 2011).