Westernized Women? The Construction of Muslim Women's Dissent in U.S. Asylum Law


This Comment examines a group of asylum cases in which the applicants, women of Muslim heritage, were portrayed or understood as Westernized because of their beliefs in gender equality. This Comment utilizes the work of female scholars of Muslim heritage, whose work on gender, Islam, and Orientalism has provided critical insights which can help us understand how women of Muslim heritage are constructed in U.S. asylum law. These scholars have described an imagined binary between the liberated Western woman and the oppressed Muslim woman which this Comment argues has been replicated and reinforced in asylum law. This Comment explores how intersectionality theory can provide a framework that helps explain how the asylum claims of women of Muslim heritage are often depoliticized along both gender and racialized lines. This Comment argues that rethinking the influence of gendered Orientalism on asylum law can help provide more accurate and fair decisions for female Muslim asylum-seekers.

About the Author

J.D., UCLA School of Law, Class of 2017; B.A., Philosophy & Neuroscience, University of Southern California, Class of 2014.

By uclalaw