In 2009 she had a baby girl, who is 3 years old now. According to Fulah tradition, every girl must be subjected to FGM (female genital mutilation). Fatoumata herself was victim of such genital mutilation and according to her experience after growing up, she realised that it was a violation of her human rights by her parents. She was also forced to get married at age 14. She doesn’t want that to happen to her daughter. When Fatoumata is granted refugee status, her victory will be a victory for all women asylum seekers looking for protection against gender based crimes.
The 1951 Geneva Convention defines a refugee as a person whom “owing to well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country”. Within the European Union, the 2004 Council Directive on the qualification of asylum seekers defines ‘acts of a gender-specific or child-specific nature’ as a form of persecution. It therefore recognises that FGM constitutes a persecution qualifying for being granted refugee status.
The primary responsibility of protecting women and girls from mutilation lies with each country. However, if a woman or girl under genuine fear of being subjected to FGM flees a country where such protection is not provided by the state and arrives in the EU, it is vital that the member state fulfils its legal obligations and provides adequate protection. Source: http://www.endfgm.eu/en/female-genital-mutilation/fgm-in-europe/fgm-and-asylum/
The UK Border Agency, although having been provided with real evidence and having information regarding such circumstances in Gambia, still wants to deport her and her daughter.
A victory for Fatoumata will not only save her daughter from becoming another victim of FGM, but will be spreading the message that FGM and gender based crimes will not be tolerated.