Question: My husband beat me and I was afraid for my life, so I escaped to the United States. Can I applyfor something so I do not have to go back to my home country?
Answer: Yes, it may be possible to apply for gender based asylum. This is not your normal ‘political’ asylum, but rather, one based on ‘gender based immigration.’ This would be considered a social group.
Question: What is a ‘social group’ and how to define it?
Answer: There are several grounds in which you can apply for asylum. One of the grounds is if you are being persecuted because you are in a ‘social group’. You have to define an immutability characteristic. This is where a person cannot change OR it is so fundamental that the person should not have to change. The social group can be argued differently depending on the particular situation in which you are finding yourself.
For example, in the small amount of information you have given here, the social group might be married persons who are beat by their spouses and cannot get any governmental help. It is not easy to define social group and certain case law actually makes it more difficult. However, do not despair as it can certainly be done.
Question: What if I know somebody in question is not married, but still being beaten by her husband and has escaped to the U.S. Can she apply for this kind of asylum?
Answer: In this case, there is actually an unpublished case that allows this to go forward. However, even without this case, it is possible. You will have to define the social group differently. In this case, I can see some group similarly referencing women that are being beaten, but are in ‘common law’ marriages and/or who have kids that have suffered, etc.
Question: What if my country has laws against domestic violence? Will I not be able to apply?
Answer: Even if country has laws against domestic violence, you can show they are unable or unwilling to enforce it. This is purely a factual endeavour and must be elaborated on and built up during trial.
Question: Are there other issues that I should be aware of when trying to prove my case?
Answer:Internal Relocation is an issue. It is important to clearly document and show if government is going after you that there is nowhere to hide. If it is an individual that is going after you, then you must show how they will follow you.
Also, assuming you had to just pick up and go to escape the beatings, try to show loss of property, loss of livelihood, and whatever you left behind. Try to show the persecutor has a broader reach than just the local place upon which you are living.
Question: Are there any other similar related issues whereby somebody can file for gender based asylum?
Answer:Yes. An example would be child abuse. You would look for the social group such as were children are sold as property, or unable to leave of abusive parents, or sold as sex slaves. Another example, might be forced relationships and/or forced marriages. Additionally, you can see if the particular persecution violates religious views, or race issues. Other issues might be female genital mutilation, homosexuals, homosexual marriages, transgenders. Thus, as you can see, there are many examples of gender based asylum cases.
- Published in Brian Lerner