Recently, the US Board of Immigration Appeals denied asylum to three women who had been victims of FGM (female genital mutilation) in their home country of Guinea because they had no well-founded fear of further persecution, since your vulva can only be cut off once.
To be clear, in Guinea, 95% of women are subjected to FGM.
The women claim that the high prevalence of FGM in Guinea indicates a culture of serious oppression against women. They further claim that they have well-founded fears that their daughters would also have their vulvas cut off if they were to return.
“There’s no question female genital mutilation is a horrendous act,” said Department of Justice lawyer Michael Heyse.
Jessica Sherman, a Justice Department lawyer, said there was no evidence in the cases of the three women that the same individuals who harmed them would do so again.
At the hearing, the judges seemed particularly upset at a conclusion by the government that it was fair to return the women to Guinea because they could not suffer further persecution since mutilation had already occurred.
“Supply me any case in which a well-founded fear of persecution was not sustained because the same leg couldn’t be amputated or the same organ removed,” demanded Judge Rosemary Pooler.
Pa-DOW government lawyers! “Justice Department” indeed. That’s a blow to their old “Vulvas Can Only Be Cut off Once, So Go Back to Your Totally Non-Persecuting Country Wench!” song-and-dance. And I say “old” because the government has always denied victims of FGM asylum, in the absence of any other additional fears of persecution based on race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. However, as these judges suspect, when it’s non-female-specific body parts that get cut off based on your membership in a particular social group, US Immigration seems to think fear of persecution is indeed well-founded and meets their criteria.
It looks like some awesome judges are about to do away with the “Vulva Exception”. Which, in the defense of the Board of Immigration Appeals, I’m sure was based on totally non-misogynist, completely and coolly rational US policy, and probably had to do with terrorists and national security, and was therefore well-justified. I’d like to see that memo: CIA Warns DHS of National Security Risk Posed by Vulva-less, Mutilated Asylum Seekers.
Stay classy, Board of Immigration Appeals.
© idyllicmollusk 5/1/08