S.H. is a lesbian from Bosnia who came to the United States in 2006 to escape the oppressive and abusive conditions she faced because of her sexual orientation in her home country. While vacationing with her girlfriend in another town, a group of men found out that they were lesbians and raped them. The police initially took a report but later that night told the two women that they had to leave town. The police blamed the women for the assault and accused them of trying to cause problems in a small town.
After the rape, S.H. told her mother about her sexual orientation, and her mother turned her back on S.H. and refused to talk to her. At the same time, her father kept her secluded in their home so that S.H. would be unable to see her girlfriend, and was determined to marry her to a man. Her situation was oppressive, but it wasn’t until a second rape attempt that she decided to flee her country. She learned about an exchange program and was able to leave Bosnia in 2006. She submitted an asylum application on her own, but was referred to the Immigration Court, where she was granted asylum. NCLR worked with pro bono attorney Cara Jobson of Wiley and Jobson on her case.