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Saturday, January 31, 2015

U.S. Door Opens Wider on Asylum for Battered Women

The Obama administration has reversed a Bush-era position on battered women seeking asylum in the United States, providing an easier way for victims worldwide to seek shelter here. A recent federal court case changed policies that had made it nearly impossible for abused women to gain asylum.

The move is being hailed by Mary Anne Metheny, executive director of Hope House Shelter, as a “great humanitarian effort.”

“No matter where you are, domestic violence is wrong. Whether you’re here or in another country, it’s not OK,” Metheny says.

Undoubtedly, Metheny says, some people fear there will be waves of women seeking asylum on flimsy grounds. But, she points out that under the government’s new stance the women still must meet strict guidelines.

To gain entry under the new procedures, abused women seeking asylum in the United States must show they are treated as if they are property in their countries of origin, that domestic abuse is widely tolerated, and that they could not find protection there from institutions or by moving within that country.

This country can offer women resources so they can move on, says Metheny.

“This will have a large impact on the people we’re serving. Not just people who are already here, but also people coming here specifically to escape abuse.”

The government’s policy change became apparent in a U.S. Department of Justice filing in an asylum case in San Francisco.

— Colorado News Connection

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