Article published: Friday, April 26th 2013
A campaign to prevent the deportation of a woman at risk of female genital mutilation (FGM) has called for public support to prevent her from being subjected to the violent and oppressive practice.
Olayinka Olatunde, aged 16, escaped to the UK from Nigeria with her family in 2010 after attempts were made to subject her to the brutal and potentially fatal procedure, part of the cultural tradition of her father’s people.
The oldest child of Olatunde’s mother Abiola died as a result of FGM 21 years ago. Abiola moved her children to another part of Nigeria and, ultimately, fled the country out of terror that the same would happen to Olayinka.
After being pursued, threatened and beaten by members of her father’s family they settled in Rochdale, where she and her two brothers now attend school.
Manchester-based refuge charity RAPAR have taken on her case to try secure her and her family a safe future in the UK. They are fundraising to meet the costs of the legal fees of her appeal and to highlight her plight to put pressure on the government to reconsider its refusal of their asylum claim last June.
The potential of extradition back to the country led Olatunde to try commit suicide the following month. She stated that she would rather die than return to Nigeria where she is now at even higher risk of being forced to undergo the mutilation due to father’s later death. A cultural belief dictates that without FGM bad luck will continue to befall her family.
Aside from the threat of FGM, concerns have been raised regarding the significant risk to her mental health should be made to return to the country.
Olatunde’s psychiatrist explained that, “This psychological distress will remain high unless the physical threat to her safety is addressed.”
The campaign to prevent her deportation has attracted support from the local community, teachers, trade unionists and concerned Nigerian individuals who are strongly opposed to the practice.
Mr Adebayo Aibu, born in Nigeria and now a UK citizen is one of the men supporting the family. He said, “I regret the case of Olayinka and am against FGM because of its medical, moral, religious and social effects on the girls and women that it is practised upon.”
The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that 140 million women and girls have been subjected to FGM worldwide, a quarter of those in Nigeria.
Usually carried out between infancy and mid teens it has no health benefits and can cause severe bleeding, problems urinating, infertility and complications in childbirth.
RAPAR will be holding a fund and awareness raiser for Olayinka in Rochdale on Saturday 27th April which will include entertainment, face-painting and refreshments for children. It will take place from 2pm-5pm, at NESTAC, 237 Newstead in Lower Falinge.
For more information please contact:
Rhetta Moran at email@example.com or Kath Grant at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Details of Olayinka Olatunde’s case can also be found on the RAPAR website and on Facebook at www.rapar.org.uk and www.facebook.com/abolishfgm
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