It has upset me for years that the US government routinely monkeys around with asylum for women who are either victims of genital mutilation or are facing genital mutilation if they return to their home countries. A lot of these women are Muslim or are from various African tribes that use the procedure as a form of control on a woman's sexuality.
It's painful, unnecessary and can sometimes lead to infection or death. If we live in a country that purports to protect the rights of women it seems sick that we would deny shelter to these abused women and girls.
Apparently, and finally, someone up top agrees with me. Attorney General Michael Mukasey is pushing to stop the deportation of a Mali woman who was subjected to this perversion.
The U.S. attorney general is trying to prevent immigration authorities from sending a Muslim woman to her home country, where she was a victim of female genital mutilation.
In a stinging order overriding federal immigration courts, Mukasey blasted a decision that said a 28-year-old citizen and native of Mali should be expelled "because her genitalia already had been mutilated [so] she had no basis to fear future persecution if returned to her home country."
Calling the rationale "flawed," Mukasey sent the case back to the Board of Immigration Appeals with orders to reconsider ...
"Female genital mutilation is not necessarily a one-time event," Mukasey said. He noted that the board in a previous case had granted asylum in to one woman whose "vaginal opening was sewn shut approximately five times after being opened to allow for sexual intercourse and child birth."
He also concluded that the Board of Immigration Appeals was wrong to assume that the woman "must fear persecution in exactly the same form [namely, repeat female genital mutilation] to qualify for relief."
Mukasey had been urged to look into the matter by angered members of Congress in the wake of the January decision.
"This recent action taken by the Board of Immigration Appeals is a step backward for the rights of women worldwide," declared Rep. John Conyers, D-Michigan, in a January letter.
"Female genital mutilation is a gross violation of a woman's human rights and has traditionally been grounds for the granting of an asylum claim," Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-California, said in the letter.
The woman, a 28-year-old, fears that if she has a daughter her child would be subjected to the same abuse. I seriously hope that she isn't deported. She's had a hard enough time already. Why should we make it doubly cruel by returning her to the people who subjugated her in the first place?