Foreign victims of domestic violence may finally be able to escape their abuse; the Obama administration has instated a new policy that may grant some of these victims asylum in the United States. The policy would reverse a Bush administration stance that did not allow foreign abuse victims entry into the U.S.In order to be considered a refugee candidate, abused women will need to prove that they are treated “as little better than property,” and that their country has done nothing to help them (i.e. “abuse is widely tolerated in their country”).
This issue was recently brought to the forefront by the case of a Mexican women who has been requesting asylum for years, fearing she might be murdered by her husband in Mexico. He had reportedly tried to set her on fire when he found out she was pregnant, repeatedly raped her at gunpoint, and stole from her. Though the woman has not been immediately granted protection by the U.S., the Department of Homeland security has said that it is “a possibility,” and that “other applicants who have experienced domestic violence could qualify for asylum” as well. Under the Bush administration, refuge was denied to the woman (whose name remains confidential), but her case is now being sent back to the immigration court for further review.
According to Karen Musalo, director of the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies at the University of California Hastings College of the Law, the new policy “really opens the door to the protection of women who have suffered these kinds of violations.” [NY Times]