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Obama moves to grant political asylum to women who suffer domestic abuse

July 25, 2009

The Guardian reports:

The Obama administration has moved to grant political asylum to foreign women who suffer severe physical or sexual abuse from which they are unable to escape because it is part of the culture of their own countries.

The decision, made evident in a court case involving a battered women from Mexico, ends years of dispute over the issue which saw the Bush administration stall moves toward recognising domestic violence as legitimate grounds for asylum made during Bill Clinton’s tenure.

The department of homeland security has told an immigration court that it regards the woman, identified only as 42-year-old LR, as potentially having grounds to apply for political asylum because she feared she would be murdered by her common-law husband who repeatedly raped her at gunpoint and tried to burn her alive when he discovered she was pregnant.

But there are still massive hurdles to jump in a claim for asylum:

“These are not easy cases to prove,” said Musalo. “LR must prove that in Mexico violence against women is pervasive and that there is a societal perception that this is acceptable. Then she has to prove that the Mexican government is unable or unwilling to protect her, and on top of that she has to show that there is nowhere in Mexico where she can be safe from her abusers.”

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