Being a woman in Latino countries: How can you seek asylum based on gender?

Being a woman in Latin America has never not been an easy task. Women in these countries have a latent disadvantage in all areas of life, the result of a past marked by a patriarchal culture, which to this day continues to have an impact on our lives. Historically, women in Latin America have been marginalized, especially on issues of social, political, and economic importance. This is why many women from Latin countries risk their lives to seek asylum to be able to flee their home country and find refuge in countries like the United States.

Day by day, millions of women around the world still face great obstacles to defend their rights; they are victims of injustice, discrimination, and violence. The numbers and figures are a strong indicator that we still have a long way to go:


Currently, it is estimated that more than 272 million people worldwide have left their countries of origin, of which 50% are women. Many people migrate to escape situations of sexual and gender-based violence. This is an important factor in the decisions of many women and girls (and in some cases men and boys as well).

The United Nations defines violence against (VAW) women as “any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual, or mental harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.”

Women and girls who have experienced extreme forms of VAW may seek protection in the United States through asylum or a number of other legal processes. In 2017, 48% of the 26,568 individuals granted asylum in the US, or 12,752 asylees, were women. Although the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) does not maintain official counts of the grounds for asylum, 91.7% (n = 242/264) of the cis-gender women evaluated by the Weill Cornell Center for Human Rights (WCCHR) over nine years claimed asylum—at least in part—as “member[s] of a particular social group” on account of abuse by “individuals that the government is unwilling or unable to control.”

What is Gender-based Asylum?

Gender-based asylum refers to asylum applicants who have been persecuted for reasons relating to their gender. If you have a well-founded fear of persecution if you return to your country based on your gender, you may be able to apply for asylum in the US. 

While considering the case for women, instances of persecution can be split into two categories:

  1. The firstkind occurs within private spheres, where the persecutor is generally an individual who shares an intimate relationship with the woman, such as a romantic partner or relative. This includes acts of sexual/domestic violence, economic/emotional abuse, or regressive cultural practices such as female genital mutilation, honour killings, etc.
  1. The secondkind is where the persecution is carried out or condoned by a public or private, non-state actor, such as Governments, or militant groupswho specifically subject women of an ethnicity to sexual violence or subjugation. This category encompasses forced population control strategies, penalties that restrict women’s reproductive freedoms, sexual assault, rape, trafficking, forced marriages, etc.

Evidently, in both categories, women are persecuted because of their gender and their societal status as women.  If persecution is studied as a means of exerting control over a race, religion, or particular social group, it is clear that women fit this bill.

Being approved for asylum means the woman can remain in the host country without fear of removal or deportation, thereby providing an escape from her persecutors and allowing her to start a new life in the host country.

Additionally, the asylum-seeker must also prove that she is unable or unwilling to return to, or is unable to avail protection from persecution in, her home country. Interestingly, in most cases of persecution of women, the government and the law enforcement are unresponsive to domestic violence or sexual violence, and in some cases, are even responsible for it.

Considering these sensitive and dangerous factors, it is highly recommended that the asylum seeker knows the importance of finding the right immigration lawyer to handle their case. 

Asylum based on gender is complex and should not be treated lightly. Consulting an experienced immigration attorney before applying for asylum or submitting any documentation to the government is the first step to gaining freedom for asylum seekers. Many asylum seekers make a huge mistake by not finding professional help prior to applying for asylum.

Seeking asylum in the United States

Seeking asylum in the U.S. is not an easy process but the hope of acquiring a better life without fear of persecution and danger from the bad actors in a woman’s home country is absolutely worth every single second they have to spend in processing their asylum application.

An immigration lawyer who is licensed and trained to handle asylum cases will lay out one’s options and ultimately choose the best approach to ensure the case has higher chances of success. Qazi Law Offices has been helping asylum clients get the life they truly deserve. Do you believe you qualify for asylum? Do you know someone who is going through similar hardships? If you believe they qualify for any immigration case, may it be an asylum seeker or visa-related, remember that the first step is to seek professional help from a firm that specializes in this field.

If you want to know if you can apply for gender-based asylum, other visas, or any other U.S. immigration inquiries,  give us a call at 630-504-0648, we might be able to help. Don’t worry, giving our office a call is absolutely free! 

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