A Woman Who Fears Her Daughters Face FGM At Home In Nigeria Has Been Deported

Afusat Saliu, 31, has been sent back along with her two daughters, Bassy, 4, and Radshidat, 2...

Afusat-Saliu-011

by Sophie Wilkinson |
Published on

In depressing news today, a woman who fled her home country of Nigeria to escape her fears of inevitable FGM of her two young daughters has been deported from the UK.

Afusat Saliu, 31, has two children, Bassy, four, and Rashidat, two, all of whom were removed from the UK on Tuesday night at 7pm, despite pressure on the Home Office to allow them to stay.

Afusat had sought asylum in the UK since 2011, living in Leeds, after her stepmother in Nigeria had threatened to ‘cut’ Bassy, then two – or, in other words, removing parts of the labia and/or clitoris for various cultural reasons.

Afusat, who has herself been subjected to FGM, told *The Independent *that she fears her daughters will have to undergo the procedure and be forced into marriage if they return to Nigeria. She is also at risk of being ‘forced to marry a man 40 years her senior to whom her family is indebted,’ a friend wrote in an online petition.

When it was discovered that UK authorities planned to deport her and her family to Lagos on a Virgin Airways flight, 1,000 people appealed directly to Virgin boss Richard Branson via Twitter, according to the BBC. But he didn’t respond. An online petition was also set up to lobby the Government to block the deportation and gained over 125,000 digital signatures. But that didn’t work, either.

The Home Office stated: ‘We consider every claim for asylum on its individual merits and in this case the claimant was not considered to be in need of protection.’

Afusat’s layer, Bhumika Parma, has argued that the detention and deportation of her client is ‘an absolute mockery of our British government and protection.’

And while the case is desperately sad, it also raises a depressing truth: with three million girls in Africa alone at risk of FGM every year, if they were all to be able to seek asylum to the UK on these grounds (people are, after all, allowed entry to the UK if there is a legitimate fear of persecution), we’d have a population larger than Manchester entering every year. Bleak.

Some better news, though, is that the Queen has announced that the government will pave the way for a legal patch-up to affect the conviction rates of people who commit FGM.

Previously, a loophole meant that foreign nationals with no right to live or work in the UK couldn’t be taken to court for taking a girl abroad to have FGM. Now, if someone is ‘habitually resident’ in the UK, and assists in carrying out, or carries out, FGM on a girl from this country (20,000 girls in the UK are believed to be at risk of it every year), they can be taken to court.

For more information on FGM, please visit the Orchid Project’s website on how you can help.

Follow Sophie on Twitter @sophwilkinson

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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