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International Seminar Series: “Public and Private Harms: Asylum, Gender, and Gang Violence”

Wednesday, October 10th 2018
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

Event Description

Title of Presentation: Public and Private Harms: Asylum, Gender, and Gang Violence

Speaker: Dr. Anette Sikka, Department of Legal Studies, University of Illinois at Springfield

Presentation Overview: As more women sought refuge from excessive violence in their home countries, traditional analyses under the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees strained to shape themselves to include the types of harms women primarily faced. Violence perpetrated by those in complex familial and employment relationships with victims pose unique and often unseen
difficulties, though often equally as deadly and inescapable as those committed by “authorities” initially contemplated in the refugee definitions. In 2002 the UNHCR provided unequivocal guidelines aimed at reversing this trend, and the U.S. until now has been moving towards more equitable treatment of these harms, including those suffered by women in the Northern Triangle of Central America. In 2018 Attorney General Jeff Sessions indicated a desire to end this practice, and through a rarely used referral procedure overturned case law providing clarity and
security for abused women and the children they seek to keep safe. This act is part of an overall pattern to exclude both legal and extra-legal immigration, as indicated by recent lawsuits revealing the Administration’s practice of turning away asylum seekers prior to their ability to make legal claims. I will discuss the history of private harms and their invisibility, the refugee convention’s contemplation of harms against women and children, and its current ineffectiveness in securing the safety of thousands of marginalized people under threat in Guatemala, Honduras and El

Speaker Bio: Dr. Anette Sikka teaches primarily in the fields of International and Immigration Law, including Human Rights, International Criminal and Critical Race/Gender approaches to Law. She also teaches legal research and writing courses for the department. She completed her J.D. at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, Canada in 2001 and her PhD from the University of Ottawa in 2014. Her current research focuses on immigration reform and criminal justice, race/class and gender approaches to policing and correctional reform, and international rule of law programming. She works with students on a number of immigration-related projects, including community-based research, campus and civic events, and ECCE speaker series, and she is a member of the newly-formed Campus Immigration Committee.

Series Overview: The International Seminar Series offers the Illinois State campus and Bloomington-Normal communities weekly opportunities to learn about a wide range of international topics. Guest speakers are usually experts in their fields across a range of disciplines who cover a wide array of cultural, historical, political and social topics.

Series events have become one of the most popular internationally focused events on campus and continue to draw ever-growing crowds of students, faculty and community members. Audience members are given time at each event to raise questions to enable a two-way participation and learning.

International Seminar Series events are free and open to the public, and occur every Wednesday from noon to 1 p.m. in the Bone Student Center. The fall 2018 series will focus on immigration.

If you will need special accommodations, please contact the event organizer.


Office of International Studies and Programs
(309) 438-5276


Bone Student Center
200 N. University Street
Normal, IL
Prairie Room North & Center
(309) 438-4636