Domestic Violence and Asylum

[Found this in 2017 and am posting because I am cleaning out my drafts. Thankfully my writing has improved but sad that I could write every word about domestic violence in the U.S. 8 years later.]
So, there has been a lot of talk about this new bill that allows women who are the victims of severe physical and sexual abuse to apply for asylum in the US.

But who are these asylum laws going to benefit? Are they going to help the women in the village I am from, who can barely read and write English to get asylum in America? Are they going to help the women in Africa who have no money, property or clothing to their name get to America? Are they going to help women who are in China, Thailand, Eastern Europe or from anywhere in the world?

Anyone who has worked with domestic violence victims or with asylum proceedings in general should understand the crippling paralyzation that can come when you don’t have access.

According to a New York Times article, “A petitioner would have to demonstrate to a judge that domestic violence was widely tolerated by society and government in her country, that women were viewed as subordinate to men and that she had no place within its borders to find a safe haven.”

If we want to make progressive policy that combats violence against women then we need to start with tougher standards against domestic violence in our own country to set an example and model for the rest of the world. How do we offer the hand of asylum to battered women overseas while we only slap the wrist of the batterer in America?

The reality is that most women in America who are being abused never seek help. They are living in every neighborhood in every city of America.

The poster case that is being sited for the passage of this bill is a Mexican woman who said she would likely be murdered by her common law husband in Mexico if she were sent back to her homeland. In court documents, the woman claimed she had been repeatedly raped at gunpoint by her husband, and threatened to be burnt alive when he found out that she was pregnant.

Just today I read in the paper the story of a man from Utah who repeatedly stabbed his wife his wife to death.

The reality is that most immigrant women who are already in America and are being abused have no way out.

There will certainly be success stories that are born of this bill. I want to say that it is better than nothing, but as I continue to read the commentary surrounding it, I become disheartened that it is merely another prop to superficially improve the United State’s status in the global community. At best it only seems to be a band-aid solution to the epidemic of violence against women in the world.

Some proponents say it is not so much the bill itself that should be celebrated but an indication that the tides of immigration ideology are turning.

Under American asylum law, individuals seeking refugee status must demonstrate a fear of persecution because of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or “membership in a particular social group.”

I fear the problem with classifying physical and sexual abuse victims as a social class is that it is such a broad term. My fear is not based on the premise that hoards of people will now be coming into the country. As one advocate said: “Anyone who believes such a thing has never filed for asylum,” Instead, I am afraid the courts will set such a high burden of proof for meeting this standard that the asylum protection will be no protection at all.

If the treatment of FGM asylum seekers is any indication, this new bill does not really offer a significant remedy in any sense of the word.

In the US 4.8 million women are physically assaulted and raped by intimate partners. This statistic doesn’t even account for date, family and other violence.

At the end of the day, it’s great that foreign women who are facing physical and sexual persecution abroad can have a chance to seek asylum here. But it leaves the question, where are the millions of American women who suffer physical and sexual persecution supposed to seek asylum?

 

It’s cool to love your family

I just found these pictures on my computer. They are making me miss my family so much!

My mom reallly wanted to take this random picture on the side of the road so we pulled over.  I remember it was a beautiful day and my brother and I had just put candies in our mouth and our mom was telling us to try to hide it. Obviously I did a better job. 🙂

Attiya and I praying. I can’t remember if I remember this one being taken or made up a memory. Haha. Attiya was only just learning. 🙂 I like that I am wearing a bandana for my hijab. 
Our neighbor took this picture of us. It was a polaroid and I thought that was the most amazing thing ever. We used to play so much on this little patch of sidewalk. It is funny that I am holding Attiya b/c she kind of looks bigger than me. My brother has always looked like a little man.
Budget Costumes. Attiya got so scared right when she went out that she started crying and we had to bring her right back in. We didn’t have such silly things in the village! ( I really loved that jacket. I wore it for about the next four years.)
I think this was an Eid morning one year after we had moved to the US. We always used to wake up early and eat kheer which is like rice pudding. I remember those plates so well. 

You know that it’s cool it’s cool to love your family
It’s cool it’s cool to love your family
It’s cool it’s cool to love your family
I know because I love them more and more 

Bravery

“The bird that would soar above the level plain of tradition and prejudice must have strong wings. It is a sad spectacle to see the weaklings bruised, exhausted, fluttering back to Earth.” – The Awakening

Do you know I made him leave? Do you know he begged to stay?


Some days I feel so happy that I don’t believe I can ever be sad again. 


Today the clouds outside are perfect.  I ate the most delicious mango, drank the smoothest coffee and felt warm raindrops on my face. It feels like the whole universe is conspiring to make everything work out alright. I am eager to pay it forward to anyone who is eager to receive it. For so many years I asked, “How can life be so cruel?” Now days I wonder, “How can life be so kind? How did I ever deserve this?” 


And soon, I know, life will humble me again but for the moment I am enjoying this perfect state. There is something in me that convinces me that there are only great things to come. That pain is easily conquered. That now all my dreams have come true, I can dig deep and find new dreams I haven’t even realized. There is so much hope.


When I used to see young kids begging on the street, I wanted to hug them and kiss them. The beggers and the offensively rich, the business people and the street sellers, I loved them all. I love how incredibly ugly life can be and I love to see the ugliness in people because it helps me realize that that too is a part of our humaneness, and yet… yet, on most days, in most situations, most people rise above it. 


When I look at my family and Feraz and his family and my friends from high school, from the community, from OU, from law school, from Turkey, from every other path that I have ever been on, from the peripheral people to those I came to breathe, all I can see is layers upon layers of beauty, goodness and inspiration.


To all those beautiful people- thank you, thank you, thank you. There is a Malayan Proverb that rings so true right now, “One can pay back the loan of gold, but one dies forever in debt to those who are kind.”


Click here for your daily dose of joy. 


WALK IN BEAUTY.