Femicide and Gender-Based Violence

Guatemala has one of the highest rates of femicide (gender-motivated killing) in the world. It is estimated that more than 6,500 women were victims of violent killings between 2000 and 2013 and thousands more raped and battered. The government has enacted laws aimed at preventing and punishing gender violence but efforts to implement the laws have been ineffective to date. Violence against women continues unabated, and impunity hovers between 97-99% for these crimes. (Read more about femicides in Central America here.) CGRS has advocated for Guatemalan women to qualify for asylum under the “particular social group” category, and argued that the Guatemalan government does not effectively control gender-based violence.  The arguments made in these cases could be extrapolated to other countries with similarly high rates of violence against women.

  • Matter of R-P- (pending): This case, currently pending before the BIA on remand from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, concerns whether Guatemalan women constitute a social group and whether the Guatemalan government is unable or unwilling to control the gender-based violence feared by the applicant. CGRS filed an amicus brief.
  • Matter of Perdomo (2011): The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit remanded this case to the BIA for a ruling on whether “Guatemalan women” is a particular social group within the meaning of the law. CGRS filed an amicus brief at the BIA, and the case was remanded to the immigration court.
  • Garcia-Martinez v. Ashcroft (2003): In this case involving an indigenous Guatemalan woman whose village was decimated during the civil war, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit recognized that rape is a weapon of war and may constitute persecution on account of a protected ground. CGRS served as amicus curiae.