I do pro bono expert witness work. This means that I serve as an expert to testify on behalf of asylum seekers going before a judge.
The process includes talking to their lawyer, reading in detail the applicant’s declaration, and sometimes talking to applicants on the phone to ask follow-up questions.
I then write up my own report, drawing on my expertise to explain to a judge why they fled and why they should be granted asylum, why they should not be deported.
All of the cases I’ve worked on are based on claims about gender violence, mostly domestic abuse, but also other forms of harm aimed at women merely because they are women. Sometimes the level of abuse these asylum applicants have suffered leaves me winded.
It can take me up to a week to recover emotionally after working on a declaration because I cannot fathom the depth of hate that their victimizers have been taught is acceptable to inflict upon women.
I cannot fathom the lack of compassion that aggressors have for their own daughters, partners, neighbors.
I cannot comprehend how a person seems unable to recognize humanity in another being, to only see a punching bag to destroy, humiliate, ruin – all as a way to find dignity for themselves.
And I am convinced that our humanity—the survivor, aggressor, and witnesses—suffers a blow. We are diminished in these acts, and in their retelling.
The news about the “staggering” number of hysterectomies being performed on immigrant women in a Georgia ICE detention center also has me winded.
That someone who took an oath as a doctor to do no harm can have such disdain for these women, to harm them so deeply and permanently, this, too, is a vicious act of violence.
This, too, crushes the humanity of all involved, including those of us who stand by and continue to let this happen.
I am gutted by the knowledge that such depravity can happen—is *likely* to happen—in a system that we all fund through our taxes, approve through our votes, sustain through our indifference.
What will it take for us to wake up? How hard do we need to be shaken to stand up for the dignity of human life? And as witnesses, how much of our own humanity are we willing to let progressively die?
You can follow @AbregoLeisy.
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