Nigerian couple claim asylum over female genital multilation fears for daughters

A Nigerian couple living in England unlawfully have claimed asylum after telling immigration officials that their two daughters will be subjected to female genital mutilation if they return to Nigeria.

They say they are members of a tribe in which female genital mutilation (FGM) “remains a compulsory norm”.

The couple say “family heads” will insist and ensure that their daughters, aged seven and five, are “cut”.

Home Office ministers have rejected an asylum application but the couple have mounted an appeal.

Immigration tribunal judges are due to hear their appeal in October.

Detail of the case has emerged after the couple asked a High Court judge to consider taking steps to protect the girls by making them the subject of an FGM protection order.

Mr Justice Holman (pictured) analysed issues at a hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London and had outlined the background in a written ruling.

He decided against making the order after concluding that because the girls were in England they were not under an immediate threat.

The judge said the couple could make another application if their asylum claim was “ultimately unsuccessful”.

Mr Justice Holman said the couple had arrived in England eight years ago but were not “lawfully here”.

He said their children had been born after they arrived and had always lived in England.

“Both parents say that there is an extreme risk, amounting almost to a certainty, that if either of their daughters was in Nigeria, she or they would be genitally mutilated,” said the judge in his ruling.

“They say that they are all members of the Yoruba tribe in which female genital mutilation remains a compulsory norm.

“The mother… says that she herself was cut when she was only seven days old.

“Both her sisters were cut and her husband’s two sisters were also cut.

“They say that the head of the family in Nigeria is a powerful chieftain and that he and the head of the mother’s own family in Nigeria would, in effect, insist and bring about that both the girls are cut.”

He added: “Based on these facts, the parents have now made an application for asylum here.

“That has been rejected by the Secretary of State for the Home Department who has indicated a desire to remove the parents and children from the United Kingdom to Nigeria.

“The parents have appealed, as they are entitled to do, to the immigration appeal tribunal and their appeal is due to be heard in October 2018.”

The judge has not named the family involved.

FGM orders came into play about three years ago. A barrister who specialises in FGM litigation has said the orders can “make a very real difference”. Zimran Samuel says the orders aim to protect potential victims rather than punish offenders. He says they can put barriers in front of people who pose a threat and give comfort and support to vulnerable females.

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2018, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Judicial Office / PA Wire.