Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Asylum Law Barometer

Recent developments in asylum law:
Rape as "personal aggression"
In the Rizvie case, a Tamil asylum seeker claimed the Sri Lankan police sexually assaulted her because they thought she supported the LTTE. The Board of Immigration Appeals found the police officer was solely motivated by personal aggression, thus the attack did not constitute persecution. The 2d Cir. disagreed, noting that sexual violence in the context of civil strife is often not about sex, but instead about domination, indimidation, and control. Despite great strides in international law towards ending the tradition of impunity for rape in conflict, our immigration courts have a long way to go.
Forced marriage
In the Gao case, a Chinese asylum seeker's parents sold her to an abusive man who she refused to marry. Last year, the 2d Cir. overturned the Immigration Judge's holding that this was a private dispute between two families over a "marriage arrangement", finding that forced marriage constitutes persecution, and that Gao was eligible for asylum as a woman sold into forced marriage. This month, the AG filed a cert petition, arguing that "the highly sensitive context of culturally diverse approaches to marriage" requires a clearer definition of forced marriage. It's not apparent to me which part of an involuntary marriage to a batterer is unclear, but it's surely not true that, as the AG asserts, 96% of marriages in India are are arranged on terms similar to Gao's.

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