USA: Court Rules that Guatemalan Woman May Seek Asylum to Escape Risk of Femicide
Wednesday, July 21, 2010 10:50 AM

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a Guatemalan woman is eligible to seek asylum in the United Stated to escape the high risk of femicide in her home country.
Lesly Yajayra Perdomo illegally entered the United States in 1991 to reunite with her mother. In 2003, she faced deportation charges. Now, Perdomo seeks asylum due to fears for her safety and bodily integrity if she is forced return to her home nation. A court document explains that she requested asylum "because she feared persecution as a member of a particular social group consisting of women between the ages of fourteen and forty." She explained that Guatemalan women “were murdered at a high rate with impunity.” Amnesty International, a human rights organization, estimates that more than 1,900 Guatemalan girls and women were killed between 2001 and 2006 with sexual violence and “exceptional cruelty” often involved.
Perdomo’s claim was first denied by an immigration judge and upheld by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA). The BIA held that Guatemalan women as a class were “merely a demographic division… rather than a particular social group.” The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected this reasoning. Relying on precedent and case law, it held that Guatemalan women are not too expansive of a group to be protected as a “particular social group” under the United States’ asylum laws.
The Ninth Circuit has now remanded the case back to the BIA to determine if Perdomo will be granted asylum, giving all Guatemalan women the opportunity to seek protection. However, successfully building an asylum case for Perdomo will be challenging. She must prove not only that she will face persecution as a woman, but also that the Guatemalan government does not protect women.