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Against All Odds: How Single and Divorced Migrant Mothers were Eventually able to Claim their Right to Respect for Family Life

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Feminist and post-colonial theorists challenge the supposed neutrality of international human rights law which, in their view, should be seen as a product of asymmetrical power relations. On the basis of this premise, it seems unlikely that single and divorced migrant mothers from outside of the EU will be able to mobilize international human rights law to their advantage. And yet, after twenty years of litigation, single and divorced migrant mothers in the Netherlands are now finally able to claim their right to respect for family life and reunite with children left behind in their countries of origin. This chapter seeks to explain how this increase in human rights protection could come about. While some litigants are less powerful than others, they do not always stand alone. Increasing the scope of analyses makes it possible to include case law produced by more powerful actors. Their gains can offer strategic opportunities to those less powerful.

Affiliations: 1: Senior Researcher, Migration Law, VU University Amsterdam, The Netherlands


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