The Nigerian woman seeking asylum in the UK over fears that her young daughters will be subjected to female circumcision if they are sent back to Nigeria has won a temporary reprieve from deportation according to a Guardian report.
31-yr-old Afusat Saliu has initially sought refuge in the UK so that her one-year-old and three-year-old daughters are not subjected to the cutting she had to undergo as a child.
The Home Office had ordered Saliu to fly to Lagos on Friday after she had exhausted all attempts to stop her deportation.
A last-minute intervention from her MP, George Mudie, however, has enabled her to stay temporarily in the UK. Mudie has written twice to James Brokenshire, the security and immigration minister, asking him to intervene. The Home Office has told Mudie that Brokenshire will be writing to him about Saliu’s case.
“The assumption is that this is a pause,” said Mudie. “I would be extremely disappointed if they tried to detain her while this is still going on. This is so important and sensitive.
“[Brokenshire] has got to satisfy himself that he is absolutely certain that these children are not in danger. It would be unforgivable if anything happened to these children if they go back.”
Saliu arrived in the UK in 2011, and says that she fled Nigeria when her stepmother told her that her oldest daughter, Bassy, would be cut.
While in the UK she gave birth to her second child and has vowed to do everything possible to stop her daughters going through the mutilation she did.
“I don’t want them to be mutilated,” she said. “I know it will happen if I have to go back with them, I know it because it is the culture of my family.
“They believe in it and I will not be able to do anything about it. Every woman should stand up for her children and do whatever is necessary to protect them from something like this.”
Saliu first applied for asylum in 2012, but was turned down. An appeal was dismissed. Another application to the Home Office, this time with new evidence of the danger her daughters would be in, was rejected this week.
Under normal circumstances, Saliu could be detained in an immigration removal centre over the next few weeks for not turning up to Heathrow to catch her flight, but Mudie said this was unlikely given that Brokenshire was looking into the case.
The campaign backing Saliu’s right to remain in the UK has grown rapidly over the past 48 hours, with more than 100,000 signatories to an online petition at change.org/afusat.
Saliu’s removal was planned as the home affairs select committee continued an investigation into the scale of FGM and what the police and CPS are doing to target the perpetrators.