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?