DAY SIXTEEN: Concluding 16 Days Blogathon 2022

Our annual 16 Days blogathon has come to another close. Here’s a quick recap to round up what our contributors have written thus far.

We’ve come to an end of our annual 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence Blogathon, running between the International Day to End Violence Against Women and International Human Rights Day today. Our blogathon this year focused on the theme of migration, mobilities, and displacement and is a continued collaboration between GENDER.ED at the University of Edinburgh, the Gendered Violence Research Network at the University of New South Wales and the Centre for Publishing at Dr B R Ambedkar University Delhi. We invited artists, academics, and activists to reflect on gender-based violence in the context of our theme and their blogs shared work from Australia, France, Greece, India, Ireland, Kenya, Tunisia, Nepal, Somalia, the United States, the United Kingdom and Syria.

This collaboration between the institutions and with the many bloggers who joined our online space reminded us of the urgent and powerful need for co-creation as an analytical and methodological approach as Nick Mai’s creative ethnofiction showed us.

Inviting a range of academics and activists to our pages these past sixteen days, we learned how the basic categories through which we name and approach gender-based violence can’t be taken for granted. Sometimes the very subjects of gender-based violence are missing. Elsewhere, the erasure is an epistemic one: where queer and trans refugee women are not seen as legitimate victims of displacement.

Our bloggers also challenged the unit through which we understand gender-based violence during times of migration, mobility, and displacement: is it the individual person or is this an issue requiring analysis at the community, kin, and group level as this blog from the DiSoCo project showed by focusing on questions of justice and care.

Through the past 16 days, we heard powerful analyses of rape, forced marriage, and displacement and uprooting. But we also encountered GBV at unlikely sites: through the politics of leisure in a Delhi resettlement colony perhaps, and a nuanced narrative of agriculture and kinship from Syria.

Traveling across sites and contexts of labour, war and violence, we encountered migration that helped people access much-needed care as with West African migrants in Australia and Ugandan refugees fleeing transphobia and homophobia to arrive in Kenya. Migration is “both a cry for help and at the same time the indomitable human urge to survive” as this blog on trans* masculine journeys shows us and practices of care are stitched together despite institutional violence as the asylum accommodation system in the UK shows. If borders are tools of violence, so too are immigrants often perceived as threatening. People seek mobility and liberation through border crossings but some journeys are persistently fraught with violence as racialised and gendered inequalities are reinforced.

How does one address this violence? Feminist jurisprudence offers the transformatory potential of difference in reimagining justice. Through our posts, we have expanded how we come to listen to gender-based violence and trauma through testimonials of gender-based violence through art, literature, and song[3]  that also have the powerful potential to heal through creative force.

At the end of the blogathon, we are left with the complexity of the racialized and gendered violence of migration, mobilities, and displacement but also we hope we can leave you with the possibility of healing and repair possible through collaborative creative exploration and feminist solidarity.

The 2022 curators:

University of Edinburgh: Dr Radhika Govinda (Director), Dr Hemangini Gupta (Assoc Director and 2022 Blogathon Co-Lead), Dr Zubin Mistry (Steering Group Member and 2022 Blogathon Co-Lead) and Aerin Lai (PhD web and editorial assistant) from GENDER.ED.

Dr B R Ambedkar University Delhi: Prof. Rukmini Sen (Director, Centre for Publishing), Dr Rachna Mehra (School of Global Affairs).

University of New South Wales: Prof. Jan Breckenridge (Co-Convenor), Mailin Suchting (Manager) and Georgia Lyons (Research Assistant) for the Gendered Violence Research Network.

DAY SIXTEEN: Jawan Beetal Baa, Uhe Geetwa mein Chhapal-ba – Bhojpuri Women and Articulations on Migration

For our final blog for this year’s Blogathon, Asha Singh writes about Lakhpati Devi’s songs, which are a reflection of how many women experience migration in their families.

Asha Singh

Featured image: ‘Lakhpati in centre’ was also taken in 2014 in Bhairotola, which is under Chandi thana of Bhojpur district. Bhairo-tola is Lakhpati’s natal village. Image credits: Asha Singh

Baba ho kate da na duyi-das dinwa nu ho,

Tale praabhu-ji lawati ayihen ho.

E beti ho humase na kati toharo dinwa nu

Chali ja na matariya bhiri ho

E mai ho kate da na duyi-das dinwa nu ho

Tale praabhu-ji lawati ayihen ho

E beti ho humase na kati toharo dinwa nu ho

Chali ja na bhaiyawa bhiri ho

Oh father, let me spend a few days at your home

Till my husband returns

Oh daughter, I can’t take care of you,

Go ask your mother.

Oh mother, let me spend a few days at your home

Till my husband returns.

Oh daughter, I can’t take care of you,

Go ask your brother.

I collected this song from Lakhpati Devi, a septuagenarian unlettered woman who is also my mother. Lakhpati, like many other Bhojpuri women her age, is a storehouse of songs. I grew up with these songs. Researching them has always been a bitter-sweet experience for me.

Sweet, as they are the only living repertoire of Bhojpuri women’s collective experiences. Bitter, as they are used to reproduce the violence of traditional gender roles and caste affinities. This is not to argue that women’s songs don’t question traditions. They do, especially when they come in contact with new ideas and aspirations.

It has been my aim as a researcher to convey this bitter-sweet nature of songs and underline their undeniable place in Bhojpuri women’s experiences of mobility and immobility.

Now, let me turn to Lakhpati Devi’s song. It is an excerpt from a long dialogue between a married daughter and her natal family. She pleads to stay with them a little longer till her migrant husband returns home. Her parents remain unwilling to commit a decision and evade her appeal. The song works as a fact-fiction. It captures the generic conditions of ‘marriage migration’ – the inaugural experience of mobility (and immobility) for most women in Bhojpuri society.  Patrilocality ensures that women make no claims to resources in her natal village. This disenfranchisement, a form of structural gender-based violence, is regulated through social rituals, rules and oral art forms. This song reminds women of their status in their paternal home, post-marriage. It mirrors her own alienation from the natal home, a place she co-produced with her labour as a peasant-daughter. However, she (and the protagonist in the song) doesn’t hate her parents. Rather a deep sense of sorrow permeates the song where poor daughters realize how their equally poor parents can’t share much with them; that marrying a daughter is an economic transaction that settles delicate questions of resources. Thus, a deeper sense of patriarchal structure as violence, springs from the script of the song. Lakhpati’s parents died young of easily curable diseases in the 1970s. Singing this song perhaps is a way to remember them – a migrant child’s memories. Take a look at another such song where the daughter laments being married off to Bhojpur instead of urban Arrah or Chhapra. 

#भोजपूरी#सबकेबियहलाआराजिलाछपराहमरेबाबूजी #BOJPURI  #HAMKE BIYAHLA BHOJPUR HAMARE BABU JI

In the Bhojpuri milieu, the migrant figure is usually a young man who leaves his family to earn a living. His life and actions are commemorated in women’s folk songs. If we look close enough every such song recognizes two categories of migrants. One, the easily identifiable economic male migrant. And two, the implicit, taken-for-granted marriage migrant – the main voice in the song. Let us take a look at one such song, recalled by Lakhpati Devi, which captures an exchange between these two categories of migrants –

Kahe dhani angawa ke paatar ho ram

Kahe dhani chowkathiya dhaile jhuruvas ho ram

Toharo je maiya prabhu ho awari chhinariya ho

Tauli naapiye telwa dihalan ho ram

Toharo bahiniya prabhu ho awari chhinariya ho

Loiye ganiye hathwa ke dihalan ho ram

Husband: Why do you look so thin, dear wife?

Why do you look so sad, standing at the doorway, dear wife?

Wife: Oh husband, your mother is such a bitch,

She gives me only a few drops of oil.

Oh husband, your sister is such a bitch,

She gives me only a handful of flour to cook.

When the husband asks his wife to explain the reasons for her frail frame and sorrow, the newly-wed wife tells him that her in-laws deny her oil (telwa) and portions of kneaded flour (loiya). The song is woven together additively, with ‘prabhu ho awari chhinariya ho’ acting as a bridge to add new lines. Like other women’s songs on migration, the protagonist is a ‘newly-wed’ wife. One rarely comes across songs where a middle-age married woman becomes the protagonist. The ‘newly-wed’, is a migrant coping with forms of everyday violence—the scarcity, the control, the refusals of her wishes—in her marital home. 

Bhojpuri Folk Song (Jatsaar) | Saraswati Devi | भोजपुरी लोक गीत (जतसार)

The household is characterized by conflicts and negotiations of a marriage migrant. The micro-politics of oil and flour – daily necessities – is a slice of how women experience migration.  Reflecting on the content of the song, Lakhpati Devi conceptualizes them as lapsed or persistent lived experiences which are orally passed down through generations (‘jawan beetal baa, uhe geetwa mein chhapal-ba’ or what we experience is ‘printed’ in the song). The presence or absence of the migrant husband or khanihaar (breadwinner who has the first claim to all resources) determines the status of the marriage migrant. Lakhpati’s husband, my late father, was a migrant, for almost half their marriage. His absence adversely affected her life and that of her children. Her children survived only when she left for the city with her husband.

Women’s articulations on marriage migration and its everyday violence have silently shaped Bhojpurian notions of pain and displacement. Irrespective of gender, Bhojpuri migrants draw from women’s lives and sing like women to endure the pangs of mobility. The conditions of migration in Bhojpurian society are shaped by the structural violence of socio-economic institutions. Songs register (if not reflect) disappointments with such forms of violence but also work as painkillers to endure them.
This image was taken in 2012 in village Dihari under thana Sandesh, district Bhojpur (Bihar). Dihari is Lakhapti’s conjugal village. Image credits: Asha Singh

Author’s Bio

Asha Singh is an Assistant Professor in Gender Studies with Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta (CSSSC). She has also taught at Ambedkar University-Delhi, Amity University-Noida, Adamas University-Kolkata and Mahatma Gandhi Antarrashtriya HindiVishwavidyalaya-Kolkata centre. Prior to her academic career, she was a journalist in Hindi newspapers NaiDunia, Bhopal and LokmatSamachar, Maharashtra. Her PhD is from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. Her doctoral work focuses on the intersections of gender, caste and migration in Bhojpuri folksongs. Her current research focuses on the sociology of Bhojpuri language, its institutional history and implications on social transformation. She has published with EPW, Sociological Bulletin, Sage, Routledge and Prabudhha.As a bilingual scholar she has contributed essays in popular platforms like Hindustan Times, Roundtable India and Savari.

DAY SIXTEEN: ‘Why not make darkness my god?’: Writing to Resist 

Bahar Fayeghi Ghadimi introduces us to Massome Jafari’s work and the use of writing and other cultural practices among Afghan women as a form of resistance.

Bahar Fayeghi Ghadimi

Featured image from  

The people in these stories are looking for a place to find the stability they have lost. The migration of people is not always geographical, sometimes this migration (movement) takes place in their minds and within them.

Massome Jafari

Due to four decades of conflict, about five million Afghans have found refuge in the neighboring country of Iran (Amir-Abdollahian, as cited in Gupta, 2022). However, despite these numbers, the underlying policy of the Iranian government has always been to treat Afghans as temporary guests who will return to their country one day. Afghans in Iran have been denied permanent residency and citizenship rights and their freedom of movement is strictly restricted including through the designation of no-go areas, such as cities and counties bordering Afghanistan and Pakistan, which prevents Afghans from traveling to, working, and studying in these places. 

Living in a state of limbo is even harder for Afghan women, who face double discrimination. As Afghans, they are treated as inferior and excluded from the Iranian society. As women, they face many forms of gender-based violence by their families, society, and the government. These forces control women’s personal and public lives from their clothing, to their right to education, work, and freedom of movement.

A striking example of institutional violence against women is the fact that the government only issues work permits for Afghan men in specific categories of hard labor which forces women to find illegal employment and accept poor working conditions (e.g.,including long working hours, lack of health insurance, low pay). Furthermore, the patriarchal nature of Iranian society and Afghan families gives male relatives the power to limit women’s participation in society and their access to basic rights.  

Despite all these restrictions, however, women have fought to acquire the necessary skills for improving their lives. Mothers especially have been advocating for the education of their daughters. Thus, second and later-generation Afghan women are well-educated and better equipped to resist marginalisation and oppression. By participating in cultural activities such as writing, poetry, and filmmaking, they can shed light on the obstacles they face, reclaim their identities and demand their rights.   

Writing has become a significant tool for young Afghan women to resist power structures. They often use short stories to voice their grievances and say the unsayable.

Masoome Jafari, a second-generation Afghan born in Iran in 1996, challenges violence against women using creative techniques such as surrealism. Her book Why not make darkness my god? consists of eleven short stories written between 2015 and 2020, where she addresses issues, such as being denied Iranian citizenship, domestic violence and racism within Iranian society. Her characters are brave young women trying to free themselves from the forces that constrain them. Liberation is often achieved by going to the university, working, undertaking artistic activities, moving away from controlling families and migration to a third country.  

In the story “Few months before 1399”, Jafari writes about the struggles of a woman to make a living in a society that does not accept her. At the end, the character discovers masturbation as a form of liberation. The young mother of the story has recently moved to the “town” (which refers to Iran), and works in a tailoring workshop, a common profession amongst Afghans in Iran, to save money and bring her child with her. She is overworked and underpaid by her employer and made to work and sleep in the run-down building of the workshop. She is ignored by her colleagues and denied honey, a source of strength for the people of the “town”. However, she does not give up or stop her search for honey. One day, feeling so hungry and weak, she tries to find honey within herself through masturbation.   

When she completely collected the honey with her finger, she felt that she loved her life more than she could ever imagine, she even loved her employer and her husband. She thought she was not upset with anyone. At that moment, it did not matter to her if the whole workshop caught on fire and went up in the air. The important thing was that she finally found the honey mine and she was no longer hungry (Jafari, 2021, p. 27).  

Jafari’s character displays resistance in many ways. She found employment despite governmental policies that deny women work permits and give employers carte blanche to exploit women’s productive labor. She does not stay silent when Iranians tell her to go back to her country, and instead demands to know why she is not sold honey. Finally, she tries to make her own living despite difficult conditions.  

Jafari channels her resistance through writing, which she uses to raise awareness about the difficulties facing Afghan women in Iran and inside their homes. In fact, honey is a metaphor for many commodities that Afghans in the country can hardly access. Furthermore, telling a surrealist story of a woman’s discovery of sexual pleasure is a way of challenging structural silencing and social taboos, which ultimately make it so hard to talk directly about gender-based violence in all its forms.  


Gupta, K. (2022, May 24). Face to face with a hostile host. Asia Democracy Chronicles.  

Jafari, M. (2021). Why not make darkness my god? Nashr Rowzaneh. 

Author’s Bio 

Bahar Fayeghi Ghadimi is a third year PhD student in the department of Islamic and Middle Eastern studies at the University of Edinburgh. Her background in politics and international relations of the Middle East, her experience working with the United Nations in Iran and her interest in gender and refugee studies have led to her current research on the everyday resistance of Afghan women in Iran. Specifically, she focuses on how women combine multiple practices to resist material and ideational domination at the family, societal and governmental levels. You can tweet her @BFayeghi  

DAY FIFTEEN: The experiences of migrant girls in cities 

Anandini Dar centres the experiences of migrant girls in this piece and their exclusion from schools and public spaces, which is “intrinsically enmeshed with the larger patterns of reception of migrants in the city, their living conditions, (im)mobility and freedom from authority, spatio-structural inequality and poverty.”

Anandini Dar

Featured image: “0011 – A TESS-India material using teacher engaging in student centred activity based teaching in her classroom” by TESS-India is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

“School jaane ka mann nahi karta.” 

 (I do not feel like going to school) 

Rinky, 13 years, girl  

This statement, while made in a fleeting way during a conversation by Rinky, a migrant child residing in an urban informal settlement in the south of Delhi, is very telling. It captures the sentiments shared by many other young adolescent girls who experience everyday life through the prism of gender, (im)mobility, and precarity. In India, there is a high rate of internal rural to urban displacement accompanied by migration to cities, with approximately 139 million people migrating from rural to urban centers, as per the latest Census (2011). With statist development agendas deeply linked to plans for urbanization, families migrate to cities in search of better jobs and schooling for their children. Many of these families travel back to their hometowns seasonally, for festivals, important family occasions like weddings and deaths, and as per the agricultural cycles of harvest. But while living in Delhi most families feel displaced, and the lives of their children remain as bleak as the myth of modern schooling.1

Despite the inclusion of migrant children and their issues around education in the NEP 2022, the plan for school retention of migrant children is not sufficient for the kinds of “slow violence” young migrant girl children, in particular, face inside and outside of schools in Delhi. 

 When I was working with migrant families who have arrived from Assam and West Bengal and living in an urban informal settlement in the south of Delhi, I found that girls’ exclusion from educational spaces was not only a problem of the schooling system, but intrinsically enmeshed with the larger patterns of reception of migrants in the city, their living conditions, (im)mobility and freedom from authority, spatio-structural inequality and poverty. Social and physical inclusion is as much, if not more important to ensure that educational and social aspirations of girls and their parents are fulfilled.

Despite enrolment in schools, many of the migrant girls, as they enter adolescence, are sent back to their villages to get married as young as thirteen years old. If girls stay back in cities, they continue to face various forms of exclusion and violence. Young girls face threat to physical harm in public spaces, and their parents fear their safety, as a result of which girls are barred from spending time in large open spaces within their settlements, not allowed to access city streets independently, and are mostly resigned to household chores and care work for younger siblings.

When Rinky articulates that she does not feel like going to school, as shared in the opening account, it is not only because of the challenges that continue to permeate the schooling system, including language barriers to her learning, but also due to the unsafe urban landscape that girls like her traverse on a daily basis.  

However, young migrant girls like Rinky are resilient and very articulate about their needs and aspirations, despite the setbacks to their mobility and education. In discussions with adolescent girls in the settlement, we were able to learn about their challenges and their needs. Through drawings, girls shared that there is no accessible play space for them in their neighborhoods, and oftentimes their most basic desire to play games with friends in the settlement is deterred due to an absence of a designated safe play area. One girl shared that they cannot play in the settlement as groups of men and young boys occupy the open areas and they feel unsafe in those areas and do not get a chance to play with friends. Neighbouring public parks are gated and despite many of their mothers working in the neighboring gated communities, they are not allowed to use the public parks. Girls shared that if there was a designated play area, which included trees, access to drinking water, and a shop where they could purchase play materials, they would feel safe in playing outdoors in their settlement.  

Image copyright: Himanshi & Duha.  

We learned from this process that it is important to listen to girls, as they are not just “becomings”, but agentic beings, with capabilities (Prout & James, 1997), rooted in their socio-cultural and embedded everyday contexts. They are able offer innovative ideas for interventions to improve their own wellbeing. Only through more transformative and inclusive spaces along with practices of co-designing with girls that there is a possibility to fully listen to girls ideas and innovative strategies that can help counter the “slow violence” they experience in their everyday landscapes within the city.  


Balagopalan, S. (2022). Introduction: Modernity, Schooling, and Childhood in India: Trajectories of Exclusion. Children’s Geographies, DOI: 10.1080/14733285.2022.2073196 

Prout, A. & James, A. (1997). A new paradigm for the sociology of childhood? Provinance, promise and problems. In James, A. & Prout A. (Eds.), Constructing and Reconstructing Childhood: Contemporary Issues in the Sociological Study of Childhood (Second Edition). London: Falmer Press. 


This reflection has emerged from the research project “Displacement, Placemaking and Wellbeing in the City.”  The support of the Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR) and the two research frameworks of the Global Challenges Research Fund and the EU-India Platform for the Social Sciences and Humanities (EqUIP) is gratefully acknowledged. The  project is also grateful to the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) (Grant Ref ES/R011125/1).  

Author’s Bio

Dr. Anandini Dar is Faculty of Sociology and Education, at Dr. B. R. Ambedkar University Delhi (AUD), India. She is the founder and co-convener of the Critical Childhoods and Youth Studies Collective (CCYSC), and serves as the advisory board member of The Childism Institute, at the Rutgers University, USA. Dr Dar completed her PhD from the Department of Childhood Studies at Rutgers. She recently co-edited a Special Issue for the journal Childhood, titled, “Southern Theories and Decolonial Childhood Studies” (2022). She is currently co-editing the International Handbook of Childhood and Global Development, Routledge, UK, and has published articles in encyclopedias and journals such as, the International Journal of Children’s Rights, Childhood, and the Journal of Childhood Studies.  

DAY FIFTEEN: Hostile Environments of Gender and Reproduction

In this harrowing piece, Lucy Lowe reflects on the hostile environment and how it impacts pregnant asylum seekers and babies in detention centers.

Lucy Lowe

Featured image: “Yarl’s Wood Protest.” by Darren Johnson / iDJ Photography is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Pregnancy and birth are complex experiences that can evoke hopes and anxieties about the past and future, and illuminate the need for care and community. For migrants, it can also mean a confronting engagement with borders and immigration controls, and regimes of surveillance and management that are defining characteristics of both pregnancy care and immigration in the UK.

In Scotland, people in the asylum system are subject to contradictory policies and political ideologies on immigration, from ‘New Scots Integration Strategies’ that claim to welcome migrants, to the UK-wide ‘hostile environment’ immigration policies that seek to make life as unbearable as possible.

The treatment of pregnant asylum seekers in the UK reveals how the control and enforcement of borders are themselves tools of violence that are frequently used but rarely recognised by the state. Increasingly restrictive access to visas or official pathways to asylum force people to pursue irregular and more dangerous journeys. Such routes put women in particular at heightened risk of violence, including sexual violence.

Taking high doses of contraceptives before their journey is one strategy that women adopt in order to prevent pregnancies occurring as a result of rape. Even if they successfully reach a country where they might seek asylum, persecution that is deemed domestic or even feminised, often fails to meet narrow legal definitions of a refugee. The ‘hostile environment’, which restricts access to basic needs and services including accommodation, healthcare, employment, and financial assistance, keeps people in a state of destitution. This state of precarity puts people at further risk of exploitation.  

Pregnancy is usually presented as an additional challenge and source of vulnerability for people in the asylum system. Their experiences of pregnancy are often complicated by health problems, including poor nutrition and mental health problems. The dispersal policy, introduced under the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999, was intended to reduce the ‘burden’ of asylum seekers in the south of England by relocating people to key sites across the UK. This forced relocation has resulted in many people experiencing repeated relocations, reducing the possibility of any meaningful sense of community or support.

Such policies can have damaging effects on the health of individuals and their children. These problems are exacerbated when people are housed in poor-quality accommodation, as they were in Glasgow in the Mother and Baby Unit, and still are, in deficient hotel accommodation, where people lack access to cooking facilities and are provided with insufficient nutrition.

This accommodation, run by the private company Mears, has been widely critiqued as unsafe and unsuitable, particularly for pregnant people and new babies. It is therefore unsurprising that asylum seekers often experience a deterioration in health during their first two to three years in the UK. The hostile environment ensures that people seeking asylum frequently encounter poverty, destitution, and insecure housing. These are key barriers to health for everyone.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has emphasised the impact of social disadvantage on maternal health and pregnancy outcomes. It classifies refugee and asylum-seeking people’s pregnancies as ‘high risk’ due to the ‘complex social factors’ they face, and recommends increased efforts to improve access and engagement with maternity services.

This ‘high risk’ categorisation involves a pathway of care led by obstetrics, rather than midwifery, and a more rigorous regime of surveillance and interventions. They frequently experience high intervention births, with notably high rates of inductions and caesarean sections.

Despite this high-intervention care, refugee and asylum-seeking women in the UK continue to be at increased risk of poor pregnancy and birth outcomes. This is part of a wider context of reproductive inequalities, where Black women are four times more likely and Asian women two times more likely to die from pregnancy related causes.

These fatal inequalities exemplify the need for a reproductive justice approach. Reproductive justice was developed as a framework for activism and analysis to conceptualize the relationship between reproductive rights, racism, classism, and other forms of oppression. While reproductive rights movements have often focused on struggles for access to contraceptives and abortion, underscored by the concept of ‘choice’, reproductive justice acknowledges both the right to have or not to have children, and the right to safely and adequately parent children.

Pregnant asylum seekers in the UK are highly restricted in their choices, from what they eat, to where they live, to where and how they give birth. The hostile environment produces and compounds these multiple oppressions among some of the most vulnerable people in our society. The political salience of borders and immigration in the UK is resulting in increasingly violent policies to prevent migrants, including people seeking asylum, entering or remaining in the country.

Borders reproduce and reinforce racialized and gendered violence by categorising people as ‘criminals’, or as unworthy of human rights, which exposes people to further violence and restricts their capacity to receive care and support.

Research on forced migrants frequently emphasises the violent state exclusion of refugees, yet reproduction presents a potential zone of inclusion, where women and their infants are rendered deserving of protection on the basis of motherhood, rather than persecution. Pregnancy and motherhood can allow refugee women to form networks of social and familial support, but the financial, physical, and emotional demands of raising children can risk further isolating marginalized women and exacerbating mental health conditions that are already more prevalent among refugees and asylum seekers.

Although healthcare is provided by the NHS and (minimal) financial support is provided by the Home Office (in the case of asylum seekers and some refused asylum seekers), a plethora of organisations exist to advise, support, and advocate for refugees and asylum seekers. In Glasgow, Amma Birth Companions provide antenatal, birth, and postnatal support for refugees and asylum seekers. Frequently referred to as the ‘Amma Family’, staff and clients frequently use kinship terminology to convey the support they provide and receive. This intimate labour, grounded in opposition to the hostile environment, provides immediate support and advocacy, but also highlights the ways in which new communities of care and solidarity can be produced through universally shared challenges of pregnancy, birth, and parenting.

Author’s Bio

Lucy Lowe is a senior lecturer in Social Anthropology at the University of Edinburgh. This post draws on her ESRC New Investigator Grant funded project Maternity, Migration, and Asylum in Scotland (MAMAS).