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Abused immigrants seeking asylum in the United States have waited eight years for the government to approve regulations to review their status. Advocates say the best chance for moving these cases forward is a more immigrant-friendly administration.

Karen Musalo

(WOMENSENEWS)--Safety advocates for refugee and immigrant women are anxiously looking past today's elections to see who gets appointed as the next secretary of the Homeland Security Department and the country's next attorney general.

Those appointments could once and for all settle the fate of Rodi Alvarado, whose long-running application for asylum on the grounds of facing domestic abuse in her homeland of Guatemala could set precedent for many other women seeking to avoid international trips back to dangerous households.

In the case, Alvarado's lawyer, Karen Musalo, is setting her hopes on the Democratic ticket of Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. Joe Biden winning out.


While significant progress has been made, in recent decades, in raising awareness about the devastating effects of domestic violence, and many lives have been protected and saved, domestic violence continues at epidemic proportions. It continues to tear families apart regardless of their race, ethnicity, religion, or economic background, leaving in its path physically, emotionally, and spiritually injured women, men, and children.

According to a report published by the Centers for Disease Control in February 2008 (Adverse Health Conditions and Health Risk Behaviors Associated with Intimate Partner Violence, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report) one in four women is abused by a current or former spouse, partner or boyfriend at some point in her life. Another study by the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics (Intimate Partner Violence in the United States) says that on average more than three women a day, in the United States, are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends.


Latino groups fighting domestic violence have grown from memorializing a murdered bride to actively recruiting men to their cause. Third in "Dangerous Trends, Innovative Responses" series.

Brides' March to end violence

NEW YORK (WOMENSENEWS)--Roughly 300 people, including over 70 women in white wedding gowns accompanied by a cadre of men in black business suits, gathered in the late-September sun on a Washington Heights street corner. They were there to talk about violence: the intimate kind.

The gathering and subsequent march through three low-income sections of New York City commemorated a death that shocked the community: On Sept. 26, 1999, Gladys Ricart, a Dominican immigrant, was murdered in her Northern New Jersey living room as she stood in her wedding gown, surrounded by her family, and made last-minute preparations for her wedding. Her murderer was a former boyfriend, a wealthy businessman from Washington Heights.

Each year on Sept. 26, the New York City Annual Brides' March Against Domestic Violence, featuring women dressed as brides, parades through predominately Spanish-speaking sections of the city, demanding an end to domestic violence.


In the case of a bride murdered on her wedding day by her ex-lover, the defense tarnished her name, said she invited violence and argued for a lesser charge of 'passion provocation' murder. But the man was found guilty of unmitigated murder.

Editor's Note: The following is a commentary. The opinions expressed are those of the author and not necessarily the views of Women's eNews.

Josie Ashton

HACKENSACK, N.J. (WOMENSENEWS)--Domestic violence prevention organizations are applauding the conviction of a businessman who murdered his former lover on her wedding day, a case that divided the Dominican community in New York and New Jersey and raised the controversial issue of whether the defense of "crime of passion" mitigated a murder.

Domestic violence experts say that every year as many as 1,500 women are murdered by intimate partners, and about 4.8 million intimate partner rapes and physical assaults are perpetrated against U.S. women each year.

On Oct. 23, a jury rejected a "crime of passion" defense when it convicted Agustin Garcia of the murder of Gladys Ricart on Sept. 26, 1999. He shot her as she stood in her wedding dress and surrounded by her wedding party, preparing for the nuptials at her home in Ridgefield, N.J.


In the first conference of its kind, multicultural experts say abuse is colorblind, but culture and complications are not--nor are anti-violence strategies and solutions.

Prof. Beth E. Richie

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (WOMENSENEWS)--Violence against women runs through almost all cultures and domestic abuse is colorblind. But recently, multicultural experts got together to share their sometimes-diverging experiences, strategies and one common conviction: One size doesn't fit all.

Anti-domestic violence advocates from across the United States, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico came together late last month at the first U.S.-sponsored multi-cultural forum on violence against women.

All agreed on one thing: To better provide for abused women, whether African American, Native American, Latinas, Asian, or lesbian, services must consider each woman's own reality and that of her culture.

"One size fits all doesn't work effectively on culturally diverse communities. Therefore we have to develop better ways to address the concerns of these communities," said Adelita Medina, executive director of the National Latino Alliance for the Elimination of Domestic Violence, known as Alianza. The conference was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.


Latinas told advocates they wanted an end to family violence, but not their relationships with their spouses or companions. Now, several agencies have culturally specific programs for Latinos, while committing themselves to the safety of Latinas.

Julia Perilla

PASADENA, Calif. (WOMENSENEWS)--In the early 1990s, Julia Perilla started listening to abused Latina women and what they told her: Consider the men.

A former battered wife herself, Perilla was working with a community-based project for Latino families torn apart by domestic violence. Traditionally, the response to domestic violence in the United States is to rescue the women from their partners, help them establish lives of their own and then refer the cases to the criminal justice system.

But for many Latinas, this approach just doesn't work. And that's what they told Perilla, a clinical community psychologist and an assistant research professor at Georgia State University. The reality is that many women want to remain with their husbands, they don't want to leave. What they want is an end to the violence and that won't happen unless the men too can get help.

Though reluctant at first to change her own approach, Perilla said she began to see that these women were right, and she set about finding a way to help the men as well as the women. This eye-opening experience was the beginning of a new approach to stopping domestic violence in Latino families.

Focusing on the men who batter rather than just on helping women is a revolutionary concept in the advocacy community and has been met with some resistance because it's not the traditional approach: Remove the women and punish the men.


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