I was under the impression that I was aware of all types of visas offered by the United States government. But I’ve only recently discovered an option offered to those that are victims of crime: U visa.

The U-visa provision was created in the federal Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000. To qualify for the visa, authorities must verify that a victim of a crime such as domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking participated in the investigation and⁄or prosecution of a suspect. (Gazette)

No more do undocumented immigrants need to suffer in silence, and afraid to speak up due to fears of deportation.

A Montgomery Village woman, a victim of domestic violence, is one of the nine U-visa candidates who have worked with the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office this year.

Manuel Donis Davilla, who was the woman’s live-in boyfriend, was found guilty of attempted murder and related charges during a four-day trial in Circuit Court in January. He will be sentenced Thursday and faces life in prison.

In her opening statement during the trial, Assistant State’s Attorney Deborah Feinstein said Davilla planned to beat the woman unconscious. ‘‘He then planned to tie her up. After that he planned to pour paint thinner all over her body and to set her on fire,” she said. (Gazette)

Finally, a human side to this immigration debate. But apparently I’m not the only one who learned of the U visa so late, since it was created almost 8 years ago.

Edma Castañeda endured repeated beatings, cigarette burns and other abuse through three years of marriage because she was afraid that if she called police, she would be deported.

The Riverside woman did not know that some undocumented immigrants can gain legal residency if they prove they were victims of domestic violence and other violent crimes. The immigration laws sheltering them were enacted to help overcome the fear that prevents many undocumented abuse victims from reporting crimes. (PressEnterprise)

As you read the stories of these victims’ ordeal, you begin to appreciate the dire need for this type of visa. The victims are primarily female put in an uncmpromising situations by male in power — be it husband, boss, trafficking agent or as in the following scenario: immigration agent.

The calls from the agent started three days later. He hinted, she said, at his power to derail her life and deport her relatives, alluding to a brush she had with the law before her marriage. He summoned her to a private meeting. And at noon on Dec. 21, in a parked car on Queens Boulevard, he named his price — not realizing that she was recording everything on the cellphone in her purse.

“I want sex,” he said on the recording. “One or two times. That’s all. You get your green card. You won’t have to see me anymore.”

She reluctantly agreed to a future meeting. But when she tried to leave his car, he demanded oral sex “now,” to “know that you’re serious.” And despite her protests, she said, he got his way. (NYT)

Isaac R. Baichu, 46, an adjudicator for the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, was arrested after he met with a green card applicant at the Flagship Restaurant, a diner in Queens. He is charged with coercing oral sex from her.

The above stories continues to tell the agonizing tale of many other victim and perpetrators. But what’s even more unfortunate is that despite enduring such torment these injured parties have a very tough time obtaing the U visa.

For more information on the U visa please click here.

Gang rape victim sentenced

November 17, 2007

When religious or traditional beliefs overlap with the law of the land, the outcome isn’t always logical.

We witness this to be true when we hear from folks who, in the twenty first century, want children to learn creationism in school. If Christian parents want to teach their kids of Adam and Eve, then no outsider can dictate it to be untrue, and therefore deem it unethical to do so. But Jews, Muslims, Jains and Buddhist children, too, attend the very same school the advocates want to modify the science class curriculum for. Realize that the bible plays as much part in a Hindu child’s life as the Bhagvad-Gita does in a Christian child’s life: zero. That’s where I’ll leave that argument.

Same is true with folks who oppose legalizing marriage between two homosexuals. They claim their religion (and personal beliefs) strictly prohibits so. And of course, all must adhere to their fancy.

In a like twisted government ruling, a 19-year-old woman from Saudi Arabia, who was raped 14 times by seven men, was sentenced to 90 lashes for being in a vehicle with a man who isn’t family.

The rape victim was punished for violating Saudi Arabia’s laws on segregation that forbid unrelated men and women from associating with each other. (BBC)

For the record, the seven men were too punished. Ranging from ten months to up to 5 years.

The story gets better (worse, actually).

A Saudi court has increased the sentence given to (the) gang rape victim to 200 lashes of the whip and six months in prison and ordered disciplinary action against her lawyer. (Reuters)

This happened because she and her lawyer spoke to the media and got sympathy from folks around the world. They shouldn’t have done that. And the government made certain they realize so at the appeals court.

The lawyer, Abdel Rahman al-Lahem, could potentially lose his license. At the moment he is suspended. There are talks to appeal for the third time. But really, would you be surprised if the victim was sentenced to more lashes and time was added to her sentencing?

Lahem’s critics have called him an infidel and “lawyer of homosexuals”. In the past he has been jailed and banned from traveling abroad. He will appear before a disciplinary committee at the ministry of justice on December 5, charged with criticising the judiciary and conducting activist campaigns in the media. (Guardian)

The lawyers is actually a true advocate for those facing injustice in the country. Here’s a link to an article where Lahem took on the case of an outspoken journalist.

Saudi journalist Rabah Al-Quwayi, 24, has been detained by Hail authorities in connection with his writings posted on Internet forums, which they allege place his Islamic faith in doubt.

Lawyer Abdul Rahman Al-Lahem announced yesterday that he would be representing Al-Quwayi.

15 years ago, Tina Healy of Victoria, Australia was a victim of rape and robbery. The man responsible was found two months later. Something that should have caused a bit of relief to Healy. But it didn’t.

Ms Healy said nothing prepared her for when her attacker was caught two months later and then having to go through the legal system.

She said there was no guide to tell her what to expect.

“There was just a lot of things I did not know, and of course every victim that comes into the system is a babe in the woods,” Ms Healy said. (link)

Healy found this to be a common case with several other victims she spoke to. So she, alongside other victims like her, worked with the Victorian police to put together a downloadable manual that would address already familiar concerns for new victims, “A Victim’s Guide to Support Services and the Criminal Justice System.”

Chief Commissioner Christine Nixon said the statement and booklet followed extensive community consultation over the past 12 months, along with the input of victims of crime, such as Ms Healy, over several years.

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Hazel Thompson for The New York TimesThe people of Congo have never really witnessed peace in their nation. Victimized by the colonists, rebel militias, and self serving leaders, the Congolese accept their life is destined for endless sufferings.

Too consumed with the American and Pakistani elections, globalization, and Iraq War news that I had forgotten there are mass genocides going on in the African continent.

So when I read today’s article on the Times, “Savage Rapes Stoke Trauma of Congo War,” I was broken down to tears.

Eastern Congo is going through another one of its convulsions of violence, and this time it seems that women are being systematically attacked on a scale never before seen here. According to the United Nations, 27,000 sexual assaults were reported in 2006 in South Kivu Province alone, and that may be just a fraction of the total number across the country.

There certainly are theories as to who, and what, could be responsible for one of the most heinous crime on this planet. But fingers are being pointed at all directions. Certainly, the Hutu Militia and it’s alumnus, the Rastas.

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