Category: VAWA

Saudi Arabia Passes Law Against Domestic Violence

I am very cautious about the new development about a new law in Saudi Arabia criminalizing domestic violence. I read a article on CNN mentioning that the new law was passed today criminalizing domestic violence against women, children and domestic servants. Human Rights Watch was very skeptical about the effectiveness of the law, especially in light of the system of male guardianship followed in Saudi Arabia. While I agree with the law, I am doubtful that it will be followed because of some restrictive interpretations of the Quran, the Islamic holy book, which give men the right of guardianship over his wife. As the CNN article mentioned, how could a woman escape her abusive relationship when she could not even drive?  
Another reason for my hesitation is the effect the law would have on domestic servants. This problem is endemic in Saudi Arabia and abroad and is nothing short of human trafficking. Would these domestic servants be allowed to stay in a country where even persons born there, including myself, do not get any immigration benefits?
Regardless, it is too soon to know the full impact of the new law. I think many Middle Eastern countries could benefit from our Violence Against Women Act. I do think this is a step in the right direction. The problem will be enforcement, especially in a culture that does not give a woman her full rights.   

The Impact of Supreme Court’s Upcoming Decision on Same-Sex Couples

As we await the Supreme Court’s decision regarding same sex marriage laws and California’s proposition 8, I thought I should post some notes on the potential implications of such decision in the immigration arena. Regardless of what the Supreme Court rules, the decision will sure have important implications on same sex couples with at least one immigrant partner. 
Under the current law, the Defense of Marriage Act denies federal benefits, including immigration benefits, to same sex couples. In other words, a partner in a same sex couple can not petition for another partner in a same sex relationship. This is an unfortunate limitation, especially in abusive relationships where one partner might be abusing another, and the immigrant partner is left with little or no recourse to stay in the United States. For example, the current law does not allow an abused partner to apply for benefits under the Violence Against Women Act, but might allow the alien to be the beneficiary of a U visa, which is a visa specifically allocated to victims of crimes. However, due to the reluctance of law enforcement to certify these petitions, and the potential dangerous implications on the abused spouse the chances for such a visa dwindle, and a abused partner might have no recourse at all when it comes to immigration benefits. One of the best things regarding VAWA is that the petition is reviewed by special agents at the Vermont Service Center, with the highest levels of confidentiality and protection. These same safeguards do not exist in the U visa procedures, and the abused spouse might have to testify against the abusive one. We all know the potential dangers that come with such testimony. These dangers will lead the abused spouse to stay away from reporting the abuse and will ultimately lead to a denial of immigration benefits. 
The Supreme Court’s ruling will be cataclysmic decision when it comes to federal benefits for same sex couples under federal law. I believe that the current law is unfair and should be struck down, since it creates two groups that are not equal under the law. I hope that the Supreme Court will do the right things and strike down DOMA. I just read on CNN that the decision will be announced tomorrow; I am keeping my fingers crossed.