Women Whose Governments are Unable or Unwilling to Provide Reasonable Protection from Domestic Violence May Qualify as Refugees Under United States Asylum Law
38 Pages Posted: 13 Aug 2009 Last revised: 28 Mar 2015
Date Written: Summer 1997
Since the issuance of the United States Gender Guidelines in 1995, the immigration agencies have faced special challenges in applying them in particular cases, and in institutionalizing their commitments and principles. Since adoption of the guidelines, many asylum officers, immigration judges and Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) trial attorneys have shown greater sensitivity in addressing gender-related asylum claims. Nonetheless, in some cases lawyers for the INS have suggested that a heightened test of extraordinary persecution is appropriate or that the applicant must show persecution on account of gender plus something elsein order to prevail. Claims involving domestic violence have raised particular concerns. Although the guidelines state that domestic violence can be the basis for an asylum claim, some INS attorneys have suggested that domestic violence is a private family matter not subject to protection under United States asylum law. As a result, this article originally was submitted as a position paper by the Refugee Law Center, Inc. and the Women and International Law Program of American University's Washington College of Law, in collaboration with other nongovernmental organizations, to the INS. Its purpose was to provide a framework of analysis of domestic violence as a human rights violation and as a basis for asylum protection.
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