The British government has made a decision to send back 31-year-old Afusat Saliu, a Nigerian asylum seeker and her two young daughters despite her claims that her two young daughters will be circumcised in the country against their will by members of her own family.
A petition set up on her behalf has generated almost 2o,ooo signatures from those calling on the Home Office to reconsider their decision to deport the woman and her two daughters, Bassy, 3, and Rashida, 1, to Nigeria.
The family currently live in Leeds but have been asked to leave the country by Friday.
The campaigners hope Afusat and her daughters would not suffer the same fate as A-level student Yashika Bageerathi, 19, who was deported to Mauritius despite garnering 175,000 signatures from people protesting against her deportation.
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.