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I met Beatrice when she was 18 years old. She came from one of the larger countries in West Africa and was seeking asylum in the United States. During our meetings, Beatrice often gazed at the floor and sometimes spontaneously broke out in tears. Before coming to the United States, she had suffered a childhood of beatings and whippings at the hands of her father before being forcibly married off to a man twice her age. Her husband had repeatedly beaten and raped her, and she had borne his child.
I am a pediatrician, and I volunteer to conduct evaluations of people seeking asylum in the United States. Working with a nonprofit organization, I use my medical skills to document the physical evidence of abuse or torture that asylum seekers have endured. The women, men, and children I have examined are kind and hard-working people who are often embarrassed by the abuse they have suffered, as if it were somehow their fault./.../