Attorneys at Howrey Simon Arnold & White, L.L.P. win asylum for a southern Sudanese student activist.
A Sudanese student, Ms. Ibrahim*, was arrested, detained, and tortured for participating in a peaceful protest of the war in southern Sudan and the conscription of children into the Sudanese army. Following her release, Ms. Ibrahim was further harassed by security officers on the University campus. Ms. Ibrahim fled to the United States, arriving in January 2000. After her arrival, she contacted Human Rights First who interviewed and accepted her case into its pro bono representation program. Pro Bono Counsel Rachel Strong, of Howrey Simon Arnold & White, had been hoping to represent an asylum seeker and was particularly interested in Ms. Ibrahim’s case. Ms. Strong agreed to represent Ms. Ibrahim and worked diligently on her behalf. One issue that made the representation particularly challenging was working her way through the language and cultural differences. Ms. Ibrahim spoke only Arabic, and one basis for her asylum claim was that she had been raped – a term that has different cultural meanings. After working with the MultiCultural Center in Virginia, Ms. Strong was able to understand in what way Ms. Ibrahim had been assaulted and was better able to advocate on her behalf. In her legal brief, Ms. Strong argued that Ms. Ibrahim met the requirements of persecution on account of her actual and imputed political opinions and her social group, which she innovatively defined as “women in a restricted Muslim country who are perceived as, and who do, express opinions contrary to those of the government.” Ms. Ibrahim won asylum in June 2001. Howrey Simon Arnold & White has since won asylum for two more clients.
* for confidentiality reasons her real name is not being used.