from Intlawgrrls Blog, by 

Recently, during my introductory lecture for the Refugee & Asylum Law course at George Mason University School of Law, I was reminded of the fact that achieving immigration relief for women and girls facing gender-based violence overseas is a highly specialized area of the law.
To the uninitiated, including the law students in my class, a reading of the "refugee" definition, codified domestically in the U.S. Refugee Act of 1980, does not make it immediately clear how claims by women facing gender-based violence fit within the definition. In fact, in a short introductory quiz, all of the ten students in class voted "no" when asked whether it was possible for a Guatemalan woman fleeing domestic violence to be granted asylum in the United States.
The "refugee" definition, which asylum seekers in the United States must meet in order to be granted asylum, states that a refugee is a person who has suffered persecution or who has a well-founded fear of future person on account of one of five protected grounds:

'race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.'

Gender is not specifically listed as a ground, and, indeed the only country to my knowledge that has formally recognized gender as a sixth ground for asylum is South Africa.

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