The New York Times (2010) reports the case of a Mexican woman who was granted asylum in the United States on the grounds of domestic violence. The woman, known as L. R. , currently lives in California. The case is said to give clarity to the law in such a way as to afford asylum to abused women who are unable to obtain legal remedies from their home countries. However, no new wave of immigrants is expected because the requirements for obtaining asylum on the basis of domestic abuse remains very high.
The aspect of this case that would have affected my thinking is the severity of the alleged abuse. Court documents report that “during decades of abuse, the man repeatedly raped her at the point of guns and machetes, and once tried to burn her alive”. Domestic violence can be defined so as to include a number of coercive behaviors on a spectrum that includes physical, emotional, psychological, and economic abuse. Nevertheless, people tend to perceive physical abuse as more real. Furthermore, our legal system almost always defines crimes and punishments in terms of physical events.
I believe it may be the severity of this physical abuse which persuaded immigration officials to grant L. R. asylum in an almost unprecedented way. But the question remains whether similarly serious psychological abuse would have ever been granted such status and whether it will ever be granted such status in the future. References Preston, J. (2010, August 12). Asylum Granted to Mexican Woman in Case Setting Standard on Domestic Abuse. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www. nytimes. com/2010/08/13/us/politics/13asylum. html