Asylum and Gender-Based Violence

The concept of asylum is intended to protect people who are unfairly persecuted in their home countries. The persecution must be based on certain factors, including race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. 

When it comes to gender-based persecution, the category at issue is membership in a particular social group. People seeking asylum under this category have long had trouble with the vague definition provided under the law.

Whose Persecution Is to Blame?

One of the problems faced by asylum seekers in this situation is pointing to the party or parties responsible for their mistreatment. A woman who is subjected to domestic violence is first victimized by the abuser. 

Whether that be a husband, father, mother, boyfriend, or someone else, the abuser is not a government. Asylum is not available to anyone who can point to an individual who violated their rights. 

Governments are not responsible for all the actions of their citizens. They are responsible, however, for protecting those citizens when the situation calls for it. A country that routinely ignores domestic violence, rape, forced marriage, and other common violations of women’s rights may necessitate the granting of asylum under US law. 

A Moving Target

Immigration law is complex. In part, the complexity comes from the fact that the interpretation of the law can change dramatically from one administration to the next. For example, the same law that would deny asylum during the Trump administration could grant asylum under the Biden administration.

Under Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions changed the way asylum law was interpreted. The change made it much harder for victims of private criminal activity, including domestic violence, to successfully petition for asylum.

Current Attorney General Merrick Garland reversed that position and re-opened the possibility that domestic violence could sustain an asylum petition.

Still a Murky Situation

While the new position is an improvement, it still leaves the victims of domestic violence in a difficult position. Petitioners are still faced with no clear definition of the term “particular social group.” 

They may be able to prove that they faced domestic violence, gang violence, or other intolerable persecution and still not gain asylum. Without legal assistance, asylum seekers may not be able to show the connection between their persecution and the government that failed to protect them.

Learn More About Your Asylum Rights Today

Seeking asylum is not easy. It takes skill, patience, and dedication. You need an experienced immigration lawyer to assist you. Call us at 972-445-7577 to discuss your situation today.

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