The united nations does a lot of work in this area and I recommend anyone interested in knowing more visit http://www.unhcr.org/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/home
According to international refugee law, a refugee is someone who seeks refuge in a foreign country because of war and violence, or out of fear of persecution "on account of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group".
So its not just discrimination, its persecution, which is more severe. Persecution is something like 'prolonged hostility and ill treatment'. So I guess if a woman chose not to wear the headscarf and as a result was subjected to 'prolonged hostility and ill treatment' then she would be a legitimate refugee... but that very much depends on the interpretation of the definitions I guess..
The problem I see with the contemporary refugee in the debate is that there are very few facts presented. We need to consider how many migrants arrive in Australia and how many of these migrants are refugees to get some perspective. With that and a whole of other information the government should arrive on a clear figure of how many individuals will be taken as refugees per year.
I think it's not different if they're arriving by boat or not. We should take the ones by boat first before the ones in the camp because they have actually made an effort to get here. But again, only until we have filled our quota then we say no. The quota should be a reasonable amount but not excessive.
It amuses way the govt has chosen to paint the people smugglers as the baddies... in WWII and in the French revolution those that helped the Jews/ royalty escape persecution were hailed as brave heroes.. funny how times change...