USA: Woman Appealing Asylum Denial

A woman from Mali is fighting to stay in the United States even though her petition for asylum on the grounds of female mutilation has been rejected.

Alima Traore, who has been living in the Washington suburbs in Maryland for eight years, said she does not want to be forced into an arranged marriage with a cousin, the Baltimore Sun reports. Her fight for asylum began five years ago when her student visa expired.

The Board of Immigration Appeals ruled last fall that Traore does not have a valid asylum claim because she cannot show she would be persecuted if she returns to Mali. The board, which is part of the Department of Justice, found that she cannot use her opposition to female genital mutilation or female circumcision because she has already gone through the irreversible procedure -- in her case as an infant.

Traore is appealing the decision.

Karen Musalo of the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies at Hastings College of the Law described the board decision as "a U-turn." She said in the past women have been granted asylum based on circumcision on the grounds that they would be likely to face other types of discrimination as well.


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DATE: 02/08/2008

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