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Home » Resources » Guide to Establishing the Asylum Eligibility of Victims of Human Trafficking and Forced Marriage

Guide to Establishing the Asylum Eligibility of Victims of Human Trafficking and Forced Marriage

Publication Date: 
January, 2011

Purpose of this Manual: Every year, hundreds of thousands of people become victims of human trafficking or forced marriage. Some are taken away from their home countries and moved abroad, where they are forced to engage in prostitution, other forms of labor, or marriage. Others are trafficked internally within their countries of origin. Those who escape or are rescued may want nothing more than to return home. Others may legitimately fear being punished or re-trafficked if they return. Trafficked persons who do not wish to return home must seek protection in another country.

The United States has developed some specific remedies for trafficked persons who wish to remain in this country, primarily the T visa, but broader forms of protection are needed to adequately protect the many trafficked persons who do not qualify for this form of relief. This manual focuses on asylum as an alternative form of relief by presenting a legal framework for establishing asylum eligibility on the basis of trafficking and/or forced marriage. The manual also includes brief sections on withholding of removal under INA § 241(b) and protection under the Convention Against Torture.

Human Rights USA’s trafficking-related asylum cases have involved women and girls fleeing sex trafficking or forced marriage, and this manual focuses on these types of gender-based asylum cases. Many of the arguments and citations to authority contained herein, however, could be applied to other types of trafficking cases, including labor trafficking and claims made by male asylum seekers.

Note on forced marriage: Several of Human Rights USA’s asylum briefs have treated forced marriage as a subset of trafficking. Many forced brides are literally purchased as commodities by their “husbands,” while others are exchanged under circumstances substantially similar to a commercial transaction. Other women may not be exchanged for any value, but may be subjected to some kind of forced labor upon marriage. This manual includes arguments and authority that would be helpful in any type of forced marriage case, whether or not the situation can be characterized as trafficking.

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