The R-a Rule
In 1999, the Bureau of Immigration Affairs (BIA) ruled against an asylum seeker in In re R-A-, RESPONDENT, 22 I. & N. Dec. 906, Interim Decision (BIA) 3403, 2001 WL 1744475 (BIA, Jan 19, 2001), ruled against granting asylum in part because it saw DOMESTIC VIOLENCE as a private matter within her own family. When the woman countered that she was in fact a member of a persecuted group (she belonged to a support group for abused women), the BIA was still not convinced. The woman appealed the case to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, where as of early 2003 it was under review by the Justice Department. The Justice Department consulted with experts in domestic violence and noted that it feels certain forms of domestic violence may indeed constitute persecution. For example, if a country's domestic violence laws are weak or ineffective against protecting abused spouses, that could be construed as a public issue, not merely a private one within individual families.