THE BLOG

If Afusat Must Go Back, Her Little Daughters Are at Real Risk of Forcible FGM

23/04/2014 11:59 BST | Updated 23/06/2014 10:59 BST

"Yashika Bageerathi: a humane asylum policy should be led by law, not emotion." - Catherine Bennett, The Observer, 5th April, 2014

The above article then went on to state "Yashika Bageerathi's deportation seemed harsh - but so would many others. And we can't bend the rules in every case."

Of course not, but Ms Bennett, seems to have missed the point. Her article is based on the presupposition that our asylum system is 100% fair. She does not take into account the emotion (read: conscious or unconscious bias) of the judge involved in each case. Nor does she consider the level of advice and legal support that the individual concerned may have had in preparing their case. She also questions the use of a petition site like Change.org to champion the cause of individuals, over gov.uk e-Petitions for more general asks.

It seems to me that Ms Bennett is in the fortunate position of not facing losing loved ones, with their deportation putting their health, or even their lives at risk. She neatly describes "identifiable victim effect" (whereby individuals elicit more empathy than statistics). Of course, it suits the system to dehumanise - if not more palatable, it makes the general public think of just another number, rather than a human being with the same hopes, dreams and needs as you or I.

Ms Bennett clearly doesn't understand that if you care about someone, you will try everything in your power to keep them safe. Petitions are usually the last resort, a final chance to raise awareness and hope that someone, somewhere, will take a last look at the case.

I've been supporting an amazing lady called Afusat since the New Year. With her solicitor's help, we have followed all procedures correctly. Fresh evidence and recent case law was submitted. Yet two weeks later, a short response came back, to say that her case had 'No merit', that she cannot appeal from within the UK and that she must return to Nigeria. All the work that had gone in, all of the significant evidence supporting her claim, was not even referred to in the letter. That doesn't demonstrate a perfectly fair system to me, Ms Bennett.

If Afusat must go back on 25 April, her little daughters are at real risk of forcible FGM. She fled to the UK to try to protect her then toddler, Bassy, who is now almost four and little Rasidat, with whom she was heavily pregnant. I know what a massive contribution Afusat makes through volunteering, I also know that her girls know nothing about Nigeria. They're little Leeds lasses, Yorkshire accent and all. I personally can't bear thinking of the risk of those perfect little bodies being mutilated, but it's a gamble that our Government seems willing to take. What was that again about 'Every Child Matters?' Please sign my petition and try keep them safe.