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Case of a Bartered Bride

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					COURT REPORTER                                                                                        www.lawcrossing.com     1. 800.973.1177




Case of a Bartered Bride
[By James Kilpatrick]
When this Case of a Bartered Bride began in November 2001, Hong Yin Gao was only 19 years old. That was when her family sold her to Chen Zhi for the
Chinese equivalent of $2,200. Now her case is in the U.S. Supreme Court because Attorney General Alberto Gonzales wants to send her back to China.



Will the high court hear his cold-hearted          marriage contract fulfilled. On one occasion,      The court thus held that international law
appeal? Doesn’t the A.G. have enough on his        Zhi smashed something in the home of Gao’s         protects this damsel in distress. “Gao belongs
hands right now? Tension mounts.                   family. Zhi also threatened that, if she refused   to a particular social group that shares more
                                                   to marry him, his uncle, a powerful local          than a common gender: Gao’s social group
In this real-life melodrama, Gao is cast as        official, would arrest her.”                       consists of women who have been sold into
the beautiful Belinda. Chen Zhi is the evil                                                           marriage (whether or not that marriage has
Rassendale. The curtain rises on a courtroom       Tensions continued to mount. At last, Gao’s        yet taken place) and who live in a part of China
in Manhattan.                                      mother paid a smuggler to arrange her              where forced marriages are considered valid
                                                   voyage to the United States. She had heard         and enforceable.”
First, a synopsis: In order to pay off some        that Gao could apply for political asylum in
serious bills, Gao’s parents make a deal:          New York. Back home in China, as U.S. Circuit      Judge Straub hedged his opinion in a
Through an agent, they agree to sell their         Judge Chester Straub would later recount,          footnote: It was tailored to the facts in this
daughter to Zhi for delivery when the lass         “Zhi and his cohorts continued to harass her       particular case. He was not implying that all
turns 2. (Evidently this is an old Chinese        family, to the point where the family has had      the young unmarried women in rural China
custom, regularly observed in rural villages       to move repeatedly.”                               are eligible for asylum if they are threatened
of Fujian Province.) The dowry is to be paid up                                                       with forced marriage.
front and in full.                                 On Nov. , 200, Gao arrived illegally in the
                                                   United States. She promptly applied for            Will the bluebird of happiness light upon
It appears from the record that Zhi was            permanent residence as a refugee. For more         the fair shoulders of Hong Yin Gao? Hard to
taken in. (Being a sucker is an old worldwide      than a year she benefited from asylum in           say. Attorney General Gonzales predicts dire
custom.) He pays the $2,200 to Gao’s mama.         the Chinese community of New York. Early           consequences if Judge Straub’s opinion is
That is the last he sees of it. She pays some      in January 2003 an immigration judge ruled         permitted to stand. It “defies the most basic
bills. Time passes. We learn from the attorney     against her petition to remain. Asylum may         rules for judicial review of agency action”! He
general’s petition that Belinda-Gao at first       be granted because of a well-founded fear          cites supportive cases from South Africa and
considers Rassendale-Zhi to be a “rather           of persecution on account of race, religion,       Guatemala. Sixty percent of all marriages
acceptable potential husband.”                     nationality, or circumstances under which a        worldwide are “arranged.” Will Zhi’s venal
                                                   reasonable person would fear persecution. She      desires be thwarted? Will Gao be saved from a
Drop the comic book metaphor. These are            could prove none of these things. Neither could    fate worse than death? Stay tuned.
real people in real-world trouble. From            she prove that she would be tortured if she
Gonzales’ brief:                                   were sent back to China. The judge ordered         (Letters to Mr. Kilpatrick should be sent by
                                                   her deportation.                                   e-mail to kilpatjj@aol.com.)
“She changed her mind, however, when she
                                                                                                      COPYRIGHT 2005 UNIVERSAL PRESS
determined that he had a ‘bad temperament’         It was the prospect of brutal punishment that
                                                                                                      SYNDICATE
and gambled. According to her testimony,           impressed Judge Straub in the 2nd Circuit.
the relationship soured. He slapped her and        He reasoned that Gao enjoys the protection
                                                                                                      This feature may not be reproduced or
refused to cancel the engagement.                  of what is known as the CAT, i.e., the United
                                                                                                      distributed electronically, in print or
                                                   Nations Convention Against Torture and Other
                                                                                                      otherwise without the written permission of
“At that point, Gao decided not to marry Zhi and   Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or
                                                                                                      uclick and Universal Press Syndicate.
moved to the city of Mawei, about an hour away     Punishment. The judge found it plausible that
by boat from her home. After her departure,        under the convention, forced marriage would
Zhi occasionally harassed her family, looking      qualify as a form of degrading treatment.
to have either his money returned or the




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Description: Hong Yin Gao Lived In China Where She Faced Harassment From Chen Zhi. This Bartered Bride Some How Managed To Run From China To US. There She Stayed In Political Asylum Under International Law Protection As Attorney General Alberto Gonzales Wants Her To Send Back.
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