Abused Wife Wins Political Asylum in US

Decision sets precedent for women fleeing domestic abuse
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 30, 2009 6:51 AM CDT
Rody Alvarado Peña speaks about her asylum case to a PBS interviewer.   (PBS)

(Newser) – The Obama administration has recommended that a Guatemalan woman who came to America fleeing horrific domestic abuse be granted political asylum. Rody Alvarado Peña's case has been in the courts since 1995 and lawyers say the decision will finally clarify the rules on whether abused women in foreign countries can seek asylum in the US. The ruling is "a giant step forward," one asylum lawyer said.

Alvarado suffered a decade of abuse from her husband, an ex-soldier, and came to the US out of fear for her life, court papers state. Experts testified that only 2% of the thousands of domestic murders in Guatemala over the last decade have been solved, adding weight to arguments that Alvarado, as a battered woman, could be considered part of a persecuted group. “I thank God it came out well,” Alvarado, who works as a housekeeper for elderly nuns in California, tells the New York Times. “But it wasn’t easy to wait this long for immigration to make a decision.”