Léonce Byimana, executive director of TASSC International, issued the following comments about Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ decision on Tuesday to overturn a 2016 decision that included domestic violence as a qualification to apply for political asylum in the United States:
“Simply put, women will die because of this terrible decision,” Byimana said. “In many countries, women who survive domestic violence have few options but to escape their abuser because the authorities turn a blind eye to brutality in the home or existing laws are inadequate. It’s appalling enough that children are being ripped from their parents at the U.S. southern border, now desperate women who are running for their lives will be turned away. This is a deadly turn of events for thousands of women and their children.”
"At TASSC, we have seen women who come from places where rape is sponsored and encouraged by governments, where reporting a domestic violence can lead to death and where governments have failed to address this systematic domestic violence . Their journey to safety is frequently harrowing and they are enormously grateful for the support we offer as they recover from their wounds, both physical and psychological. The Sessions decision is unacceptable and overturns decades of legal efforts to protect abused women who seek asylum in the U.S.”
Who can forget the case of Noura Hussein , a19-year-old Sudanese woman who has recently been sentenced to death for fatally stabbing the man she was forced to marry, who she says raped her as his relatives held her down. This is only one case among others of forced marriage and marital rape in Sudan, where the legal age of marriage is only 10 and marital rape is legal. We have seen similar cases in DR Congo, where rape is used by government and rebels groups as a weapon, for innocent women and men.
Denying asylum for such cases will be denying their right to life and safety.
TASSC, the Torture Abolition, and Survivors Support Coalition, offers a holistic program of support to torture survivors from across the world. The program includes medical and psychological care, legal assistance for asylum and support to find new employment in the United States.