The Obama Administration recently filed a Court Brief reversing a Bush Administration policy that prevented battered women from seeking asylum in the United States. This reversal would allow battered women from other countries with “a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion” to seek asylum in the United States.
The brief was filed in the case of a Mexican woman seeking asylum. She is a survivor of the most egregious forms of violence: rape, forced captivity, and a constant threat of murder. All violence committed by her husband. For this woman, fleeing her home for another city in Mexico is not an option. The constant fear that he would find her would prevent this woman from living a livable life. Although her original request for asylum was denied by an immigration judge in 2006, the Obama administration filed a brief in April (only recently made public) requesting that her case be re-evaluated.
Although this is a wonderful move on the part of the Obama administration, I’m slightly dissappointed and disheartened to read that this reversal does not include women subject to genital cutting. Although this isn’t necessarily abuse at the hands of a husband, although it can be, it is a practice that is often times enforced upon young women by family and/or community norms.
Suffering from domestic violence can be one of the most dehumanizing experiences anyone can live through. The mainstrem media tends to evaluate domestic abuse in a vacuum, often ignoring the social stigma that many women who try to leave face, on top of the general fear they live in, precarious and unsure of when and where they may be confronted by their abuser. Allowing these women an opportunity to seek asylum in our country is a wonderful step in the right direction, although it is only a band aid solution on a larger societal problem that needs to be addressed; sexism & patriarchy.
Andrew (AJ) is a vehement progressive, youth activist, and reproductive justice organizer. When he's not busy with the movement, you can usually find him dancing in the club or watching trashy reality tv.