Without clear laws that explicitly protect survivors of gender-based violence, asylum for survivors remains under constant threat. At any time, it can be attacked, weakened, and even eliminated by a new court ruling, executive policy, or regulation that partially or completely closes off existing avenues to safety.
Relying on cobbled together legal precedent and regulations to ensure protection for women is no longer an option.
Gender is a fundamental part of our identity. No one should experience violence because of it. And if they do, they should have the right to seek safety.
The international community created asylum as a pathway to safety for those experiencing violence due to a central part of their identity. To be eligible for asylum, one must fear persecution on account of race, religion, political opinion, nationality, and/or membership in a particular social group.
While gender was not explicitly named as a protected ground, legal wins over the last 25 years have created a pathway for wider recognition of gender as a “particular social group,” giving survivors fleeing gender-based violence the ability to seek safety in the United States.
But the road to protection for women and girls facing persecution has been long and winding. Survivors experiencing gender-based persecution must meet a higher standard and are asked to do more to prove they are in need of protection compared to those seeking protection on other grounds.
People fleeing gender-based violence deserve more consistent and equal access to safety and justice. Gender inequality is pervasive around the world, and violence is both a cause and consequence of this inequality.
Gender-based violence can include female genital mutilation/cutting, intimate partner violence, “honor” violence, sexual assault and rape, forced marriage, and human trafficking. While many victims of gender-based violence are women and girls, any person who lives outside of deeply rooted beliefs on sex, gender, and power can be targeted for gender-based violence.
Hover over or click the images below to see statistics on gender-based violence.
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
Because gender is not explicitly named as a protected ground in our asylum laws, a survivor seeking protection from gender-based harms faces a confusing, inconsistent, and inequitable legal process.
As advocates for survivors of gender-based violence, we must ensure more consistent and equal access to justice for all people experiencing violence because of their sex or gender.
Click on the buttons below to see what you can do to protect asylum for survivors of gender-based violence:
- Amnesty International, “The State of LGBT Human Rights Worldwide,” amnestyusa.org
- World Health Organization, “Female genital mutilation (FGM),” who.int.
- United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, “Global Study on Homicide 2019”, unodc.org.
- World Health Organization, “Violence Against Women 2017,” who.int.
- Transgender Europe, “TMM Update Trans Day of Remembrance 2019,” transrespect.org.
- Aguilar Hass, Giselle; Ammar, Noel; and Orloff, Leslye, “Battered Immigrants and U.S. Citizen Spouses,” Legal Momentum, Academia. edu, last modified April 24, 2006.
- Overseas Development Institute, “Male gender-based violence: a silent crisis,” odi.org; Human Rights Watch, “Men Can Experience Sexual Violence in War Too,” hrw.org
- Girls Not Brides, “About Child Marriage,” GirlsNotBrides.org.