26 Oct 2015

FGM is outlawed in Britain, so why are women at risk denied asylum?

David Cameron renewed his pledge to outlaw female genial mutilation “everywhere, for everyone, within a generation” at his party conference earlier this month.  And this week a legal duty will come into force requiring teachers, doctors and nurses in England and Wales to report cases of FGM. Yet Britain is still refusing to give refuge to women who say they’re at risk of being mutilated.


I’ve been speaking to women claiming asylum say they’re claiming asylum because they’re at risk of FGM. We’ve changed their names and home countries to protect their identities.

“Mary” told me she’s run away from her abusive father because he wanted her to have FGM before marrying one of his friends.
“As soon as I start with ‘I don’t want to have FGM’ then a slap will follow, usually that’s what he does,” she said.

But Mary’s asylum claim has been rejected. That’s despite ministers campaigning outspokenly against FGM, which is illegal in Britain. She accuses the government of hypocrisy.

“They say they want to fight against this, but they are fighting for it because if they want to send me back, they support what my father wants to do to me,” she said.

“Zainab” says she ran and hid when she was taken to be cut. But her mother in law snatched her daughter and forced her to have FGM. So Zainab fled to Britain with her second daughter and a son, who’s got sickle cell anaemia. She believes her son’s poor health helped convince the judge to let her stay. But the risk of her youngest daughter being subjected to FGM was at the heart of her case.

Zainab’s friends tell her they were “traumatised for months thinking about what they do to them – tying them up, stretching their legs out, using unsterilized instruments to do whatever they’re doing, the pain that they go through – I told them nobody would want to go through that pain for the rest of their lives…not even my enemy, nobody should go through that, no female should go through that.”

“Aminata” says she had to experience that pain, and she relives it all the time. But what’s worse is she’s expected to inflict it on other women. She’s the daughter of a “sowei” – a cutter – and when her mum passed away, tradition dictated she inherit the position.

She told me that in order to be initiated as a cutter, she’d have to first cut herself. Then, horrifically, she’d have to carry out FGM on her own daughter.

As international development secretary, Andrew Mitchell led government efforts to outlaw FGM. But even though people at risk of persecution or degrading or inhuman treatment can be granted asylum, he doesn’t believe those facing FGM should be.
For Mary, being returned to her home country would be a fate worse than death.

“I’d rather see myself die…I’ve seen what it does to other people and I don’t think I can live with this trauma,” she told me.
In a statement, the Home Office said: “All asylum claims are carefully considered on their individual merits in light of published country information, which covers issues such as the risk of female genital mutilation. No one who is found to be at risk of serious harm in their country of origin will be returned there.”

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6 reader comments

  1. Alan says:

    Mr Camerons position is deeply flawed. He swore an oath of allegiance to the crown (not the queen) yet somehow is expected to represent the population? He may indeed have allusions to the horrors of FMG however his oath will prevent any realisation. Given we are not privy to the demands of the crown, hypocrisy is the price he pays when oath keeping conflict with the sentiments of the population.

  2. H Statton says:

    I remember watching a documentary about FGM in the last couple of years, and what struck me as well as the horrifying experiences as the cutting itself, was that it was wholly embraced by certain women (I’m guessing higher up in rank) who performed these cuttings; despite knowing this would cause terrible infliction and pain. This is a cultural practice.

    They were proud of what they had done, and described why the whole FGM culture as clean. But those young women who were cut would not now lead a truly consensual sexual fulfilling relationship.

    Circumcision in men is not the same thing. They go onto live full and loving normal happy lives. After women have undergone FGM there’s no way back. That part that drives her force as a woman has been snuffed out. She becomes a shell; their life can be completely destroyed.

    These wildly outdated, barbaric, misogynistic practices have to stop. And stop, now! Globally!

    1. John says:

      Politicians will not act as they do not care about women. Now that those amongst them have changed our nation beyond all recognition to enable their politically correct view of GB tp take over from British Culture, legally they can ban Christmas but push Ramadan, condone Eide even as Islamists harrass all women around London who prefer Western dress to the anti woman/feminity stifling sack that “True Islamist women” are forced or expected to wear.
      How come Sri Lanka Enforces school uniforms be worn by all girls and boys when they attend schools, with the explanation that as Sri Lanka is Secular, religion is banned from the classroom. Has not GB been SECULAR for CENTURIES?
      How come we have cities with immigrant ghettos where English is not spoken in the HOME of the English language?And the authorities, ( majority of the British) allow this ridiculous state of affairs!

  3. D Warren says:

    Yes let them all come here as well!! just open the front door and within 20 years British people will have moved somewhere else.

    If people want to allow all these people into this country let them stay at your house, pay for them and take your childrens place at school and in the local hospital when you have cancer!!

  4. linda massie says:

    The more important question is why there is Female Genital Mutilation Act at all when boys in the United Kingdom and elsewhere are being mutilated daily, resulting in intensive care admissions, life long psychological and sexual problems and sometimes death. The idea that genital mutilation is gender specific is disgraceful ignorance.

  5. anon says:

    many things make me very angry, like yourselves, which I think is a good think, a Godly thing I think. Among many things the world could be a far better place, that day is coming. for those who harm others, thank goodness there is a God evil people will face justice.
    ‘It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God’.
    Hebrews 10.31

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