A mum of two who is currently seeking asylum in the UK on the grounds of fear that her two daughters will be subjected to Female Genital Mutilation has been detained by the Home Office.
According to the Guardian, Afusat Saliu and her two daughters Basirat, 4, and Rashidat 2, were taken from their home in Leeds on Wednesday and driven to London, where her lawyer says the family are set to be deported from.
Saliu, 31, herself a victim of genital mutilation has previously spoken of her fears that her children will be subjected to the same treatment should they return to Nigeria as she claims it’s a family tradition.
The family also fear that given the current security situation in Nigeria, they could also be a potential target for Nigeria’s extremist sect Boko Haram on their return.
The family’s lawyer, Bhumika Parmar has criticised the Home Office’s handling of the case accusing them of failing to follow their own rules regarding deportation.
In a letter addressed to the Home Office, she writes, “You have clearly breached your own policy. Furthermore, you have not advised that our client will receive the relevant protection required in Lagos, especially in light of the public interest in her case. You have failed to consider that our client has no support if she is to be returned, especially with two very young children. What proposals are there to house and maintain the family unit once she arrives in Lagos?”
She also states that the family’s treatment by the Home Office was ‘unfair’ adding that officials did not tell her where her client was being detained nor the location where she was being taken, making it difficult to file a bail hearing.
A petition on the website Change.org has gathered over 120, 000 signatures urging the Home Office to reconsider the case.
Business mogul and Virgin boss Richard Branson has now been pulled into the controversy as supporters of Saliu have been urging him to personally intervene to stop the deportation of the family via his airline.
In a statement to the Guardian, a spokesperson for the airline said, “The Home Office makes the flight arrangements for all deportee passengers. It is not for the airline to refuse to carry a deportee passenger on the grounds of their immigration case, as the airline has no knowledge of individual cases. It is for the Home Office to make immigration policy and take decisions of this nature.”
Saliu won a temporary reprieve in April with the help of her local MP George Mudie following an article in the Guardian.
The 31 year old arrived in the UK three years ago after fleeing when she was told that her first daughter would be subjected to FGM.