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Movement for Gender Asylum Justice

Protect Gender-Based Asylum

No one should experience violence because of their gender. And when they do, they should have the right to seek safety.

The Movement for Gender Asylum Justice is a community of individuals and organizations that support equal access to asylum for survivors of gender-based violence. While some survivors do receive asylum, often those fleeing persecution such as domestic violence, rape, and forced marriage do not. People experiencing gender-based persecution are as worthy of protection as survivors of other forms of persecution, and it’s time our asylum laws reflect that.


Many reforms are needed to enhance survivors’ access to protection. Among these important reforms is the need to name gender as a protected ground of asylum in our law, alongside the other fundamental attributes already included such as race, religion, and nationality. U.S. federal anti-discrimination laws have included gender as a protected characteristic for decades, and at least 25 other countries have updated their asylum laws to explicitly name gender as well.

The U.S. must now follow suit and formally recognize that persecution on account of gender is a pervasive and systemic human rights abuse that warrants redress like any other. This change is long overdue.

Founding Members of the Movement

NIWAP: National Immigrant Women's Advocacy Project

Quotes from Supporters

“My family in India will force me to marry or kill me if I refuse. I applied for asylum, but the application said nothing about violence because I am a woman. If it had, I could have had the chance to explain how women are treated at home – because they are women. My case was denied.”


“Adding ‘Sex/Gender’ as a basis for asylum would not conflict with the Refugee Protocol or international law. On the contrary, it would further UNHCR’s mandate to protect women. The Protocol sets the floor for protection and not the ceiling.”

Church World Service (CWS)

“Amending the law to add gender as a protected ground is an urgent priority. Just like race or religion, gender has always been used to categorize people in society— and unfortunately to justify persecution against them.”

Honorable Denise N. Slavin

Retired Immigration Judge

“If women are persecuted solely on account of their gender, why is that not enough of a reason for us to offer them protection like we do for others?”

Eleanor Emery, MD

Member of Physicians For Human Rights Asylum Network (PHR)


The following resources regarding the Movement For Gender Asylum Justice explore how naming gender as a ground of asylum will lessen re-traumatization for survivors during case preparation; mitigate the need for indigent applicants to retain specialized counsel; and both enhance due process and judicial efficiency by minimizing protracted proceedings and appeals. If you have additional, relevant resources to share, or any questions about this topic, please email [email protected].

Research & Analysis

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Click on the buttons below to see what you can do to protect asylum for survivors of gender-based violence:

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Get the Facts

At least 76 countries have laws that criminalize LGBTQ individuals

200 million women have experienced female genital mutilation or cutting

Worldwide, almost 3 in 5 women killed were killed by their partners or family in 2017

Globally, at least 1 in 3 women have experienced physical or sexual violence in their lifetime

Over 3,300 transgender individuals are known to have been killed in the last decade in dozens of countries 

Immigrant women in the U.S. are 2 times more likely to experience domestic violence than the general population

Sexual violence against men and boys has been reported in over 25 conflict-affected countries in the last decade

If the current trends continue, 150 million more children will be married before the age of 18 by 2030