Refugee Status

Women and Gangs: A Need for a Better Social Group for Female Victims of Gang Violence by Nelsey De La Nuez

Over the last decade there has been an increase of violent crimes due to gang activity in Latin America.[1] This phenomenon has also increased various types of crimes in Latin America, especially gender-related crimes.[2] Although gangs in Latin America consist mostly of men and many of their targets are men, a large number of women fall prey to gang-related violence as well.[3] These women consistently face persecution by gangs on a daily basis.  Yet it is difficult for these women to qualify as refugees because the persecution they face does not fit into any of the five categories prescribed by the United States.   In the United States, an individual may not qualify as a refugee unless they have faced persecution based on five grounds: their race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.[4] The best category women facing persecution from gangs fit into when they apply for asylum is “membership in a particular social group.”  Yet one of the most controversial parts of the definition of refugee is the phrase “membership of a particular social group.”  The requirement in the United States for persecution based on “membership of a particular social group” originated from the 1951 [read more]