AUSTRALIA/KENYA: Refugee Girls Face Deportation And Mutilation

For many Kenyan women, female circumcision is part of their culture.

For many Kenyan women, female circumcision is part of their culture.

Two female immigrants to Australia have been told that they are going to be deported back to Kenya to face genital mutilation.

Grace Gichuhi, 22 and Teresia Muturi, 21 went to Australia in July of last year on tourist visas. They then applied for protection with the Australian Immigration Department which was subsequently refused.

Both Grace and Teresia left Kenya in fear for their safety. Grace’s mother was killed for refusing to be circumcised and now Grace faces the same threats on her life. Teresia has fled an arranged marriage to a 70 year old man and has angered her family by also refusing to be circumcised.

Female circumcision is a controversial practice that still exists in parts of Africa. It is mainly done for cultural reasons and is seen as an initiation into womanhood. It is usually done by older women using anything from broken glass to a tin lid. However Grace states that forced genital mutilation of a female adult is done with 10 men holding the women down, whilst another cuts her clitoris off with a knife.

Both Grace and Teresia are now terrified of what fate will lie in wait for them if they are deported back to Kenya.

A spokesman from the Australian Immigration Department said: “Under the refugee convention, they weren’t found to engage with Australia’s international obligations.

The girls, along with Sister Aileen Crowe, a Franciscan nun who is supporting them, launched an appeal to the Australian Immigration Minister, Chris Evans, but he rejected that appeal. A second appeal has now been launched and the girls are awaiting the results but have been told to prepare for deportation.

Ironically new legislation is due to be introduced to Parliament that would ensure protection for the girls. The legislation is called Complementary Protection and it expands the criteria under which a refugee can apply for protection.

Five other Kenyans who applied for the same protection under the same circumstances, had their applications granted without the need for appeals, leading Sister Aileen Crowe to say: “There are some immigration officials who follow processes to the letter of the law, … It all depends on who they get to interview them.”

SOURCE: Embrace Australia

AUTHOR: Lisa Valentine

URL: Click here

DATE: 29/09/2009

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