In 2011, Canadian authorities issued a directive allowing border guards to enter women’s shelters to deport “unauthorized” migrants, despite significant protests from civil society groups. This research analyzes the politics of state responsibility that are implicated in such contestations over women’s human rights. I show two variations in how advocates re-framed responsibility to address existing ambiguities in the law. Statist appeals reinforced the centrality of the state as a protector of women, including women without legal status. Postnational appeals, by contrast, challenged the very legitimacy of the state as a perpetrator of gendered violence through border enforcement and exclusionary citizenship.

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