Survivors of severe domestic violence and sexual abuse abroad now have a greater chance of receiving asylum in the United States, according to a recent article published in the New York Times.
A brief issued by the Obama administration allows immigration courts to consider victims of domestic abuse as a persecuted group under the law. In addition to standard requirements, victims must prove extreme abuse, that there is a widespread belief in their culture that domestic violence is acceptable, and that the government does not adequately provide protection to victims.
This is a landmark decision that highlights the intersection between gender, culture, violence, and gun control. The case that helped initiate this policy involves a Mexican woman who was raped at gunpoint, held captive, and set on fire by her common-law husband.
Her story is not confined to Latin America. Women in Nepal face similar abuse in their homes, due to widespread tolerance of violence against women, easy access to conventional weapons, and an increasing market for illegal guns.
And although the government recently passed a domestic violence law providing justice to victims of abuse, women may still be reluctant to come forward. According to a 2008 study by Saferworld, only 53 percent of women in Nepal would feel comfortable reporting family violence to the police. This makes determining the scope of a problem, like the use of arms in domestic violence, difficult.
The campaign to disarm domestic violence is aimed at strengthening institutions within home countries, rather than compelling victims to seek foreign assistance or asylum elsewhere. The U.S.’s commitment to help survivors of domestic violence is certainly laudable, but it emphasizes the need for international governments to address this issue on their own soil. Victims should not be forced to leave their own country in order to find protection from abuse.
Posted By Isha Mehmood
Posted Jul 23rd, 2009