From the moment Rodi Alvarado Pena married a Guatemalan army officer at the age of 16, she was subjected to intensive abuse, and all her efforts to get help where unsuccessful. Her husband raped and sodimized her repeatedly, attempted to abort their child by violently kicking her in the spine, dislocated her jaw, attempted to cut her hands off with a machete, kicked her in her genitals and used her head to break windows. He terrified her by bragging about his power to kill innocent civilians with impunity and all of Rodi’s pleas for help from the Guatemalan government were ignored.

In 1999, the United States denied asylum to the Guatemalan women who survived these torturous acts and escaped to Texas seeking refuge. The panel of asylum judges in In re R-A- reasoned Rodi Alvarado Pena was ineligible for refuge because she had “not adequately established we should recognize, under our law, the particular social group” she seeks to advance

This essay examines the existing law regarding gender related persecution and the burden imposed on female asylum applicants to fit their claims within the circumscribed notion of a refugee within Immigration law of the United States of America. Such difficulties are contrasted with the Canadian Immigration system, where women enjoy greater freedom in the interpretation of requisites necessary to be granted asylum. Section I of this essay explores the problems women face in gaining asylum in the United States. Section II of this essay will analyze the conflicting claims and claimants. Section III of this essay will explore past trends in asylum law; discuss the framework for evaluating asylum claims under current US asylum law; analyze the competing judicial interpretations of asylum law and discuss the inconsistency of judicial decisions. Section IV of this essay will discuss the projection of future trends. Section V of this essay will propose an amendment to the Refugee Act to include a Sixth category of gender or sexual persecution.