Reconsideration of Asylum Petition Granted in FGM Case
The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled this week in favor of a family seeking asylum in the US on the grounds that their daughter may face female genital mutilation (FGM) if they return to their home country of Indonesia. The asylum claim was filed in 2002 by Bob Benito Benyamin and Anabella Rodriguez after their business visa expired. Their claim rested, in part, on the fact that their eldest daughter had been forced, without their consent, to undergo FGM in Indonesia as an infant. They feared a younger daughter would be forced to undergo the procedure if the family returned.
The decision (see PDF) reversed the Bureau of Immigration Appeal's (BIA) decision that found the FGM performed on the family's eldest daughter did not constitute past persecution and that the mutilation did not result in serious harm. The appeals court ruling stated, "the BIA's attempt to parse the distinction between differing forms of female genital mutilation is not only a threat to the rights of women in a civilized society, but also runs counter to [established] precedent."
The Court found that the parents may derivatively qualify for asylum based on the "well-founded fear of future persecution based on the possibility that Anakarina (their younger daughter) would be forced to endure female genital mutilation if forced to return to Indonesia." A lawyer for the family told the San Francisco Chronicle that the decision corrected key legal errors made by the BIA and that "there's no such thing as mild female genital mutilation." The asylum claim will be reconsidered.
FGM is the partial or total removal of external genitalia. The practice both increases the risk of HIV transmission and increases infant and maternal mortality rates. In many cases, FGM decreases women's sexual satisfaction. Approximately 3 million young women annually are forced to undergo FGM as a form of birth control and as initiation into womanhood.
Media Resources: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals 8/24/09; Feminist Daily Newswire 7/7/09; San Francisco Chronicle 8/25/09
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .