My friend, Afusat Saliu, faces being returned to Nigeria. If she goes back, there is a real risk of forcible FGM on her daughters. She fled to the UK when her step-mother expressed a wish to have her daughter Bassy cut. Bassy will be four in May; two year old Rashidat was born in London - Afusat fled while she was heavily pregnant.
In Afusat's village, FGM is usually performed on babies, which is when Afusat herself was cut. If she is made to return and her family catch up with her, it is likely that she will be powerless to protect them from being mutilated. Afusat is also in danger as she escaped a forced marriage to a man 40 years her senior to whom her family is indebted.
I met Afusat in January. She hadn't had much support, so I assisted her with finding a solicitor and working with him to prepare fresh evidence. This fresh evidence and recent case law was not given due regard in the Home Office response letter. We ask that her case is reviewed as it does not seem to have been given full consideration.
Afusat came to England to protect her daughters. She helps out at their school and volunteers with the Refugee Council and other organisations to support women in a similar position, despite her own mental health issues. Afusat is a real asset to our society. Her daughters are little Leeds lasses and have a spirit and character that I worry will be knocked out of them if they taken away.
Our law says that Every Child Matters. I'm not willing to gamble on the risk of them being cut - a 13 year old died just this Sunday as a result of FGM gone wrong. It's too late for Afusat - nobody could protect her, but we do have a chance to save her girls. Please sign the petition. If you want to read more about their journey, visit anjhanda.wordpress.com or follow me on Twitter @AnjHanda.
My Request to Home Office:
- Review new evidence, which was presented, but appears to have been overlooked
- Consider Case Law precedent, where a materially similar application for asylum was upheld
- Ensure the safety and well-being of her two small daughters who are now well settled in Leeds (including the youngest, who was born in London), but who are likely to be subject to FGM should they return to Nigeria
- Pay due regard to the imminent danger involved to her and her family should she be returned to Nigeria, given the latest information that Nigeria is unlikely to be able to provide sufficient protection for herself and her family
- Take note of the community contribution already made by Afusat