In a disappointing opinion, the Sixth Circuit affirmed the denial of a domestic violence based asylum claim. The IJ found that Roselyne Marikasi was unable to demonstrate that her status in the domestic relationship with her husband was immutable because she could not show that she was unable to leave the abusive relationship.
The BIA distinguished Marikasi’s case in the following important respects from its seminal case on domestic violence asylum claims: Matter of A-R-C-G-: (1) when Marikasi went into hiding with the Musasa Project, she did not have any contact with her husband; (2) after she left the Musasa Project, she stayed with friends and never returned to her husband; (3) a substantial period of time had passed since Marikasi went into hiding and she remained out of contact with her husband; and (4) she remained out of contact with her husband after leaving Zimbabwe. The Sixth Circuit further noted that she was able to freely move through the country and avoid her husband. Thus, Marikasi failed to substantiate any religious, cultural, or legal constraints that prevented her from separating from the relationship in Zimbabwe or moving to a different part of that country.
This case is troubling - it assumes that the impact of domestic violence somehow ceases once the victim physically removes herself from the batterer's physical presence. It overlooks the long-lasting psychological trauma suffered by a victim, even once she seemingly breaks free of her abuser's control.
The full text of Marikasi v. Lynch can be found here: