The focus of the panel declared the interaction between HIV/AIDS and violence against women indeed an enormous human rights violation that should not be ignored.
Lisa Johnson-Firth, the Amnesty Stop Violence Against Women coordinator for Virginia, served as mediator for the panel.
Lisa Johnson-Firth discussed the mission and work of her organization to provide direct services and advocacy support to exploited and enslaved domestic workers from Asia, Africa and Latin America who worked in the Washington, DC area. She said that many of her clients work for employees of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, various embassies and other international organizations. A significant number enter the United States on A-3 visas (hired by diplomats), G-5 visas (hired by international organizations) or B-1 visas (hired by other foreigners or US citizens).
Because an immigrant’s status is tied to the employer through the visa, there is a strong dependent relationship of the immigrant on the employer making the immigrant particularly vulnerable to abuse, Johnson-Firth said. Employers seem to have an abuse hand book that includes the threat of dismissal and deportation to control their domestic workers. To minimize the leverage of employers over immigrant domestic workers, Johnson-Firth recommend the following: increased public awareness of the issue, legal reform supporting immigrant domestic workers, and increased funding for legal and social service providers assisting immigrant domestic workers.
Slaves, and Prisoners:
compelling review of horror stories of immigrant women domestic workers
in the homes of Saudi employers based in the United States. But, the Department
of Justice has shown a willingness to combat the abuse of domestic workers.
“The DOJ has been very supportive on the cases where we've worked with
them,” notes attorney Lisa Johnson-Firth, who has helped many migrant
domestic workers fleeing servitude.
want to be treated like a human being
April 15, 2001
Fleeing abuse to save herself and her children, Meral, a 22 year old Turkish woman, is seeking asylum to save the life of herself and her children from her abusive husband and his family. When she appears before a judge in Boston later this week, Meral may seem like so many other women who seek custody of their children and divorces for themselves because of alleged abuse by their husbands.
While much of her story will sound chillingly familiar, however, Meral is anything but typical. She has become the central player in an international legal drama that could reshape US immigration policy toward women all over the world.
"It's very much a test case. It will be precedent-setting and will affect a lot of people in the future," says Lisa Johnson-Firth, a lawyer representing Meral.
Meral’s political asylum claim is based upon the domestic violence she suffered from her husband and her fear that she will be killed in an honor killing if she is forced to return to Turkey. The case makes the claim that the very culture of the country from which she is seeking asylum is abusive toward women. And her case comes just as asylum policy on that score is being reshaped in Washington. Meral, says simply, "I want to be treated as a human and I'm afraid, if I have to go home, it will not happen for me, or for my girl as she gets older."