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No one should experience violence because of their sex or gender, and if they do, they should have the right to seek safety.

Gender is a fundamental, intrinsic aspect of an individual’s identity – just like the race, religion, nationality, and political opinion, which are all protected grounds for asylum under the Refugee Convention.

When the Refugee Convention was written over seventy years ago, gender inequality – and the manifestation of that inequality as violence – was not widely recognized as a serious human rights abuse. It is notably absent from the list of protected grounds as a result.

To ensure equal and enduring access to asylum for survivors of gender-based violence, the U.S. must join other countries in adding a gender as an independent basis for asylum.

Tahirih’s latest report, “Ensuring Equal and Enduring Access to Asylum,” lays out six arguments for why gender must be a protected ground:

  1. Our laws do not adequately protect survivors of gender-based violence who qualify for asylum under the Refugee Convention.
  2. Survivors of gender-based violence need more than the particular social group ground in order to fairly access asylum.
  3. Providing necessary evidence for an individual’s asylum claim, such as their persecutor’s motive for violence, is unnecessarily harder with gender-based claims.
  4. The process of proving persecution due to membership in a particular social group needlessly retraumatizes survivors of gender-based violence.
  5. Without a sixth ground for gender, survivors without legal representation are further disadvantaged- with many fleeing violence and in need of safety excluded.
  6. The overly complicated particular social group framework for gender-based claims requires more time from attorneys, leads to regular appeals, and wastes resources.

Just like a person’s race or religion, a person’s gender can be the reason that they are persecuted. If we recognize that racism causes race-based persecution, then we must also recognize that misogyny causes gender-based persecution, name it as such, and offer asylum protection on that basis.

Read the Full Report