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Gender-Based Asylum



The United States has a long and rich history of offering safe harbor to refugees fleeing persecution from around the world. According to international standards, and in line with our nation’s commitment to ending violence against women and girls, those fleeing gender-based harm — such as female genital mutilation, forced marriage, and domestic violence — should be among the refugees protected through our legal system. Unfortunately, despite years of litigation and advocacy, this area of immigration law remains unclear, leading to arbitrariness and unfairness in decisions about who qualifies as a refugee, leaving many deserving women and girls out in the cold.


The Tahirih Justice Center was founded by Layli Miller-Muro, Senior Advisor to the CEO in 1997, after she helped Fauziya Kassindja win asylum. This was a ground-breaking decision that set a national precedent, establishing gender-based persecution as grounds for asylum. With this rich legacy, Tahirih remains committed to ensuring consistency and fairness in the adjudication of asylum claims for women and girls seeking protection from gender-based persecution. Thanks to our award-winning pro bono program, Tahirih represents hundreds of asylum seekers each year, seeking to push the envelope through especially challenging cases. Tahirih partners with major law firms and other advocates to file amicus briefs in asylum cases from around the country and engages in both federal administrative and legislative advocacy to seek improvements in the asylum system to better protect women and girls fleeing violence.


Read Our Groundbreaking Report on Asylum

Read our groundbreaking report on asylum

The asylum system was intended to offer individuals who cannot find protection from persecution in their home countries a chance to live safely and with dignity in the U.S. The immigration laws and regulations that govern the treatment of refugees, from their first contact with U.S. officials through their detention, case adjudication, removal, or receipt of citizenship, are inadequate to ensure that women and children in need of protection are treated fairly and humanely. Through litigation, advocacy, legislative campaigns, and outreach, Tahirih aims to increase the efficiency and fairness of the asylum system to ensure that it operates in line with American moral and international obligations.

Read our latest updates on asylum