Sexual Assault Survivor Released From ICE Detention After Massive Social Media Campaign

Ny Nourn, in an undated photo. (Photo credit: YouCaring)

After weeks and months of organizing by immigration rights groups, sexual assault victims’ rights groups, and social media users, rape and assault survivor Ny Nourn has been freed from ICE detention and is out on bail.

Supporters at a rally in support of Ny Nourn outside her bond hearing last week. (Photo Credit: Twitter / AAAJ-ALC)

Nourn — a Cambodian American refugee who immigrated to the United States at the age of five after spending the first years of her life in a refugee camp in Thailand — spent sixteen years in prison after being convicted of murder for failing to stop her abusive older boyfriend from killing her lover. In that fateful incident, Nourn was raped and beaten by her boyfriend, 34-year-old Ron Barker, who threatened to kill her and her family if she did not help him lure her lover to a meeting place where Barker shot him to death.

After deciding to go to police about the crime, Nourn was arrested, tried and sentenced to life in prison as an accomplice in the murder. She appealed her sentence by presenting evidence that she suffered fro Battered Women’s Syndrome at the time of the shooting, and was granted parole earlier this year. However, no sooner had Nourn been released on parole, ICE agents were waiting to take her into custody so that she could be deported to Cambodia, a country she didn’t know.

It should go without saying that even in a growing climate of anti-immigrant intolerance wherein ICE raids are used as tools of retribution against political enemies of the Trump administration and wherein inhumane policies of heightened arrest and detention of non-violent immigrants to face deportation proceedings has risen, it is even more senseless to punish and deport a survivor of physical assault and rape for surviving her violent abuse. Indeed, the prison-to-deportation pipeline disproportionately targets immigrant women survivors of domestic and sexual violence: 80% of incarcerated women in the United States are survivors of physical and/or sexual abuse.

Advocacy groups such as Advancing Justice, Survived and Punished, Asian Prisoner Support Committee, California Coalition for Women Prisoners, and others were quick to organize a campaign to free Nourn under the hashtag #FreeNy. The campaign included a petition that garnered over 2,000 signatures and a crowd-sourced fundraiser that raised over $10,000 to meet the goal of funding Nourn’s bond.

Last week, Nourn appeared before her bond hearing and was able to post her bail, and was granted bond. According to community members who staged a rally on her behalf outside, Nourn was released to massive applause.

This outcome proves the unmatched power of community action when applied to the side of moral and social justice.

In an email sent through the Advancing Justice network, Nourn said:

I’m free but ICE continues to appeal to send me back to immigration detention and deport me. I am joining all of you outside in fighting for not just my freedom, but for the freedom of all of my sisters and brothers that I left behind inside. Together, we can replace a system built to punish with humanity and compassion for all of us.

Nourn directed supporters to sign this petition opposing targeted ICE raids of Cambodian Americans, and to sign this petition asking Governor Jerry Brown to commute the sentence of another domestic violence survivor imprisoned for a murder committed by her abuser.

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