The Guardian is reporting that “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.” Traditionally, political asylum was just that, providing a refuge for individuals being persecuted for their political views. The paper cites a recent case of a Mexican woman who will apparently receive asylum because she was repeatedly raped by her husband, who also threatened to kill her when she became pregnant.
I must admit that I don’t quite understand how and why the problem of spousal abuse in other countries becomes something that the United States has to address through the immigration process. I wonder how broad the new guidelines will be, i.e. when does abuse become abuse justifying asylum, who will ajudicate the process, and who will be responsible for the women once they are admitted into the US? How much fraud will there be? Are we trying to pass judgment on social conditions in countries that we know little or nothing about and will we have clueless State Department officers running around conducting investigations in places like Kabul? If so, it would smack of arrogance on our part as there are plenty of abused spouses in the United States.
I also wonder why I had to see the article on the new policy in The Guardian and didn’t notice it in any US publication.