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Sierra Leone Condemns UK Grant of Asylum Based on FGM
10/19/2006 1:54 PM

Sierra Leone Information Minister, Septimus Kaikai, condemned a ruling by the United Kingdom's House of Lords granting asylum to an 18-year-old Sierra Leonean woman based on her fear of female circumcision, also known as Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). 

FGM is widely practiced in Sierra Leone, and as many as 90% of women in Sierra Leone have undergone FGM.  The procedure is often done before puberty and entails the removal of all or part of the clitoris which results in little or no sexual sensation.  The procedure itself is very painful and often dangerous.  Performing FGM is considered a human rights violation.  

Zainab Fornah who was granted asylum in the House of Lords' decision, originally had her claim denied by the Immigration Appeal Tribunal and the Court of Appeal. Ms. Fornah's asylum claim was based on fearing persecution due to membership in a particular social group.  The House of Lords ruled that female members of communities where FGM is a virtually universal practice qualify as a particular social group under the Refugee Convention. 

Compiled from: S Leone anger at FGM asylum in UK, BBC News, Oct. 19, 2006.