A survivor of domestic violence whose husband repeatedly strangled her in front of their young son has been granted refugee status, in New Zealand ‘The Stuff’ reported.
The woman’s application was initially declined by a refugee and protection officer but that decision was overturned after she took her case to the Immigration and Protection Tribunal at Auckland in June.
The tribunal’s decision, released this month, said the 39-year-old and her 12-year-old son would be persecuted if they returned to their country of birth, Sri Lanka. The tribunal heard the woman’s husband had regularly tortured, raped and verbally abused her since the couple was married in 2005 and beaten their son when he tried to protect his mother.
He pushed her from the moving tuk-tuk into the street, the tribunal decision said, and her skull cracked open. She needed surgery and 30 stitches.
“After the tuk-tuk incident, the mother was increasingly concerned that her husband would kill her and wanted to escape from him,” the tribunal’s decision said. The woman fled to New Zealand in 2017 on a visitor’s visa with the hope of finding work to support herself and her son.
However, despite being offered a job, NZ Immigration authorities declined her application for a work visa because “she was not considered to be suitably qualified”. However, she was enrolled to follow an academic course before having learnt from another Sri Lankan that she could apply for refugee status.The woman had since been able to access psychological support for the first time.
The tribunal heard the woman had been too scared to speak to health professionals or authorities, including the police in Sri Lanka about the torture as she was worried her husband would get to know.
Her husband had allegedly escaped prosecution for violent attacks on other family members by bribing police officers. The man said to have threatened to kill his wife when he heard she had no intention of returning to Sri Lanka.
The tribunal found the woman’s evidence credible and was satisfied with that she and her son would “face a real chance of serious harm” if they had returned to Sri Lanka.
It concluded the pair were refugees and will not be deported to Sri Lanka.