The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday that Guatemalan women could possibly be eligible for political asylum in the United States due to the alarming murder rate of females in their home country.
According to the Associated Press, more than 3,800 Guatemalan women have been murdered since 2000 and fewer than 2 percent of these crimes have been solved. One of the asylum-seeking women called this a case of 'femicide', reported Courthouse News.
A lower court immigration judge had previously ruled on the case, stating that women between the ages of 14-40 is too broad to qualify as a "particular social group" to be recognized as refugees. However, the three judge panel, based in San Francisco, found the decision "inconsistent with its own precedent and this court's case law", according to CNN.
The Court ordered the Board of Immigration to decide if all Guatemalan women could qualify for asylum. This decision could influence whether women from other countries with histories of gender abuse like Honduras and El Salvador may also qualify.
The appellant, Lesly Yajayra Perdomo, a native of Guatemala who immigrated to the United States illegally in 1991 as a teenager, is not guaranteed asylum by this ruling. However, it gives her and countless other Guatemalan women the opportunity to seek refuge in the United States from the rash of brutal sexual assaults and murders in their home country.