A coding tool and abuse data for female asylum seekers
With 1 in 3 women affected, accounting for one billion women worldwide, Violence Against Women (VAW) constitutes one of the widest reaching human rights violations globally. Although the forms they take may vary, these abuses are not confined to a single social class, geographic region, or culture. Existing studies have yet to describe the full burden of abuse that asylum-seeking women endure throughout their lifetimes. We describe a novel coding tool that classifies types of abuse, identifies abuse perpetrators, and estimates how long and how often each abuse was experienced. The authors used this tool to describe and categorize the abuses endured by 85 cisgender, adult women seeking asylum in the United States who presented to the Weill Cornell Center for Human Rights for forensic medical evaluations from 2013 to 2017. We reviewed a total of 180 legal and forensic medical affidavits that were written in support of the applicants' asylum claims. Using the coding tool, we identified each abuse, classified every perpetrator, and, whenever possible, estimated how long and how frequently each abuse was endured. Interpretations of the raw data contained in this article and a discussion of their significance can be found in our associated publication: "Gender-Based Violence experienced by Women Seeking Asylum in the United State: A Lifetime of Multiple Traumas Inflicted by Multiple Perpetrators" . The coding instrument described herein characterizes VAW by classifying the narrative data that are included in interviews, focus groups, medical records, and the like. Our coding instrument is the first of its kind to describe all types and severities of violence endured by women, classify the perpetrators of that violence, and delineate the timeline of violence over each individual's life. We hope that this holistic approach to classifying and describing VAW will enable other research groups to examine untested or unrealized associations between victims, perpetrators, and abuses. Ultimately, obtaining more complete data will empower us to advocate more effectively and to design more comprehensive care for victims of VAW.
Gender-based violence experienced by women seeking asylum in the United State: A lifetime of multiple traumas inflicted by multiple perpetrators
Estimates by the World Health Organization indicate that 1 in 3 women-more than one billion people worldwide-have experienced some form of Gender-Based Violence (GBV). Violence Against Women (VAW) is a prominent subset of GBV, defined by the United Nations as any act "that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual, or mental harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life." VAW can include verbal harassment, physical abuse, sexual abuse, honor killing, and femicide and can occur at the hands of individuals, institutions, or states. Whereas numerous studies have documented the multiple forms of physical, sexual, and psychological violence experienced by women, a thorough characterization of the abuses experienced by asylum-seeking women in the United States has not yet been undertaken. Our analysis of the affidavits for 85 cisgender, female asylum seekers who applied for forensic medical evaluations through a student-run asylum clinic, reveals a life-long pattern of multiple types of VAW inflicted by multiple perpetrators. These findings have implications for the focus of the medico-legal documentation submitted in support of female asylum seekers as well as for the design of comprehensive healthcare services for women and girls who are granted relief.