Pakistani Domestic Violence Victim Wins Asylum

September 27, 2011

On September 27, 2011, Cleary Gottlieb won a grant of asylum in the United States Immigration Court at Baltimore, Maryland, for pro bono client Ms. H. Ms. H’s petition for asylum presented a complicated procedural posture when it arrived at Cleary Gottlieb – pending since 2003, Ms. H was granted asylum by an Immigration Judge in 2004. Her case was subsequently appealed by the Department of Homeland Security to the Board of Immigration Appeals, where it was stayed pending adoption of proposed regulations concerning asylum applications by domestic violence victims. Although these regulations were never adopted, Ms. H’s case was remanded to the Immigration Court earlier this year for further factual and legal development, resulting in asylum being granted following a full merits hearing on September 27.

Ms. H is a native of Pakistan who was brutally treated, physically abused, and raped by her ex-husband. Any attempts by Ms. H to resist his domination were met with further violence and threats. Following their divorce, which Ms. H’s ex-husband’s family viewed as a source of deep shame on their familial honor, the family continuously threatened and harassed Ms. H and her family both in the United States and Pakistan. In granting her petition, Immigration Judge Phillip T. Williams concluded that Ms. H was persecuted on account of her membership in the particular social group of oppressed and abused Pakistani women who resist male domination in conflict with social mores, and that the Pakistani government has failed to provide adequate protection to women in Ms. H’s position. DHS has reserved the right to appeal the IJ’s decision. Cleary Gottlieb will continue to represent Ms. H in the event of a DHS appeal.

Ms. H was referred to Cleary Gottlieb by Tahirih Justice Center.