Mother’s fears for daughters if she goes back home

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A mother who fears that returning to her native Nigeria will put her two daughters at risk of being mutilated has refused to leave because she is too scared, according to campaigners.

Afusat Saliu, 31, was told to leave the country voluntarily last night but the mother has previously said she fears that going back to her country will mean her daughters will become victims of female genital mutilation (FGM).

A spokesman for change.org, a petition website which is highlighting her situation, said Ms Saliu, from Leeds, was “too scared” to get on the plane at Heathrow Airport.

Ms Saliu’s friend and campaigner, Anj Handa, started a petition on change.org calling on the Home Office to review new evidence and so far it has garnered more than 104,000 signatures.

Ms Handa wants the mother’s case to be reviewed “as it does not seem to have been given full consideration”.

The two met in January and Ms Handa said Ms Saliu “hadn’t had much support, so I assisted her with finding a solicitor and working with him to prepare fresh evidence. This fresh evidence and recent case law was not given due regard in the Home Office response letter”.

Leeds MP East George Mudie was working to try and prevent her deportation yesterday.

Ms Saliu fled to the UK in 2011, while she was heavily pregnant, when her stepmother expressed a wish to have her daughter Bassy, now four, cut. Her second daughter, Rashidat, two, was born in London.

As many as 66,000 women in England and Wales have undergone FGM. Home Secretary Theresa May said last month that she believed every MP was frustrated that there had been no progress against the practice.

A Home Office spokesman said: “The UK has a proud history of granting asylum to those who need our protection and we consider every claim for asylum on its individual merits.

“We believe that those who fail to establish a genuine fear of persecution should return home voluntarily. If they do not, we will enforce their removal.”