Domestic Violence and U.S. Asylum Law: Eliminating the “Cultural Hook” for Claims Involving Gender-Related Persecution
In this Note, Anita Sinha examines the treatment of asylum claims involving gender-related persecution. Analyzing the three most recent decisions published by the Board of Immigration Appeals, Sinha illustrates that these cases have turned on whether the gender-related violence can be linked to practices attributable to non-Western, “foreign” cultures. Sinha argues that cases involving gender-related persecution can be given full consideration of asylum law only when their adjudication is based on an understanding of the political and institutional character of violence against women, rather than on “cultural” culpability. In making this argument, Sinha examines recent amendments to the regulations governing asylum law that have been proposed to improve the adjudication of gender-related claims. Identifying their shortcomings, Sinha offers suggestions to improve the proposed regulations so that they would truly mandate equal treatment of asylum claims involving gender-related persecution vis-à-vis more traditional asylum claims.