Asylum seeker to be sent back to Nigeria despite fears her two young daughters will be circumcised

 

An asylum seeker is to be sent back to Nigeria in a matter of days despite fears that her two young daughters will be circumcised in the country against their will by members of her own family. 

Almost 20,000 people have signed a petition calling on the Home Office to reconsider their decision to deport 31-year-old Afusat Saliu, herself a victim of female genital mutilation [FGM], and her two daughters, Bassy, three, and Rashidat, one, to Nigeria. The family currently live in Leeds but have been asked to leave the country by Friday.

The campaign echoes the national support garnered for A-level student Yashika Bageerathi, 19, who was deported to Mauritius after 175,000 people had signed her petition. But while her last ditch legal attempt failed, campaigners are hoping Ms Saliu’s can be won.

Solicitor Ben Davison, head of immigration advice at Ison Harrison Solicitors said he had written directly to the Home Office on Tuesday, “setting out why we believe their decision to remove Afusat and her daughters is wrong in law.” Leeds MP Greg Mulholland and FGM campaigner Leyla Hussein are amongst those supporting her campaign.

Ms Saliu, whose youngest daughter was born in England, said she wants to protect her children from going through what she experienced at the hands of cutters. “It has affected me my whole life. There is no feeling there and it has been painful,” she told The Independent. “I don’t have a boyfriend and I don’t intend to. It was really difficult for me to have my daughters. The pain was very strong. I never enjoyed my teenage life; I felt pain when I started my period. It’s not good at all. I am trying my best to fight for my children. It’s so scary. I don’t want them going through the same pain I went through.”

Ms Saliu fled Nigeria in 2011 after her stepmother told her she would have to get her elder daughter, Bassy, cut. She added that her parents were forcing her to marry a man 40 years her senior, who would also pose a threat to her and her daughters, if she returned. 

“I don’t feel I’ll have the opportunity to protect them from the pain or trauma over there,” she said. “I don’t want circumcision to be done on them, but it’s [the will of] my family. I can’t control that. It’s mostly done by the female – the mother or grandmothers.”

Ms Saliu said she first applied for asylum in 2012, but it was denied. A subsequent appeal has been dismissed. She added that the Government told her that she will now only be able appeal from outside the UK.

Mr Mulholland said he is “very concerned” to hear about “the treatment Ms Saliu has received from the Home Office”. He told The Independent he has written to the UK Border Agency and asked that that they urgently investigate her case and put deportation on hold until fresh evidence has been examined. “It is extremely worrying that the Home Office are trying to deport her to Nigeria, despite the threat of violence she faces, and the threat of FGM to her two young daughters, which sadly Afusat has already been a victim of,” he added.

Ms Saliu’s campaign has garnered particular support from students at Leeds University, where she recently gave a talk about her experience as a victim of FGM. Flo Bateson, the president of the Amnesty International Society at Leeds University Union, who organised the event, said she was a “lovely woman” and “valued in the Leeds community”. She added: “It’s heartbreaking that there is even the possibility of her two girls being faced with forced FGM. The UK government have publicly pledged to end the practise worldwide, we have the responsibility to protect Bassy and Rashidat and not allow their deportation to Nigeria.”

A Home Office spokesperson said the UK has a “proud history of granting asylum to those who need our protection and we consider every claim for asylum on its individual merits.”

She added: “We believe that those who fail to establish a genuine fear of persecution should return home voluntarily. If they do not, we will enforce their removal.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
US comedian Bill Mahr
people
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Sport
football
News
Rob Lowe
peopleRob Lowe hits out at Obama's snub of Benjamin Netanyahu
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
Davies (let) says: 'Everybody thought we were having an affair. It was never true!'
people'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Arts and Entertainment
Over their 20 years, the band has built a community of dedicated followers the world over
music
News
Staff assemble outside the old City Road offices in London
mediaThe stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century at Britain's youngest paper
Life and Style
The Oliver twins, Philip and Andrew, at work creating the 'Dizzy' arcade-adventure games in 1988
techDocumentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Arts and Entertainment
Krall says: 'My hero player-singer is Elton John I used to listen to him as a child, every single record
music
News
Friends for life … some professionals think loneliness is more worrying than obesity
scienceSocial contact is good for our sense of wellbeing - but it's a myth that loneliness kills, say researchers
Arts and Entertainment
The Wu-Tang Clan will sell only one copy of their album Once Upon A Time In Shaolin
musicWu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own only copies of their latest albums
News
i100
Environment
Number so freshwater mussels in Cumbria have plummeted from up to three million in the 20th century to 500,000
environment
Life and Style
Models – and musicians – on the catwalk in Dior Homme for the men’s 2015/16 fashion show in Paris
fashionAt this season's Paris shows, various labels played with the city boys' favourite
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant - Solar Energy - OTE £50,000

£15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...

Recruitment Genius: Compute Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...

Ashdown Group: PHP Web Developer / Website Coordinator (PHP, JavaScript)

£25000 - £28000 per annum + 25 days holidays & pension: Ashdown Group: PHP Web...

Recruitment Genius: Estates Projects & Resources Manager

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Based in London, Manchester, Br...

Day In a Page

Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us