Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is a non-medical procedure that intentionally injures the female genital organs. FGM is common throughout Northern Africa, including Egypt. FGM is internationally recognized as a violation of human rights that also violates a woman’s right to personal privacy and integrity. FGM is a form of gender-based violence and persecution recognized under our country’s Asylum law. A woman who has been the victim of FGM can gain asylum in the U.S., as was the case of our client, Ms. NT.
Ms. NT came to the United States seeking refuge after suffering severe persecution in Egypt as a Coptic Christian woman. Ms. TN suffered FGM in the form of an excision when she was a teenager. Our client’s mother was coerced by a group of woman, members of the Muslim brotherhood, to submit her child to this procedure.
Ms. TN first suffered tremendous physical pain from the procedure, which was performed in her own living room after a regular school day. The perpetrators were a group of women she did not know, who were not doctors. They pinned her to the ground and performed FGM by excision, which involves removing a woman’s erogenous zone and primary source of pleasure.
FGM strips a woman of personal right to protect her health and her body. Ms. TN described the procedure as being incredibly painful (she was not given anesthesia) and life-altering.
Life-altering, indeed. Ms. TN now faces life-long emotional and psychological trauma because of the incident. She continues to suffer from anxiety and depression from being unable to live a completely satisfying life with her husband. Ms. TN married a man who continues to support her through her healing journey. Her husband and children attended the asylum hearing with her and continue to stand by her side.
Before coming to the United States Ms. TN experienced a frightening incident that pushed her to speak up and take action. She took her daughter to a doctor because the girl was feeling ill. Without her permission or consent the doctor and nurses were preparing her daughter for an excision. Thankfully, Ms. TN managed to leave the doctor’s office with her daughter, both unharmed.
FGM continues to be supported by local religious authorities in Egypt. Ms. TN was uncertain of policy changes and was terrified of the possibility that her two young daughters may also be put through this process. Her daughters were around the same age she was when she was a victim of FGM.
Ms. TN spoke up about FGM once her family was safe in the U.S. She struggled through sharing her story with the hearing officer, but her determination shinned through her shy demeanor and low-tone voice. Her Asylum application was granted in just a few weeks’ time, changing her daughters’ fate for the better.
Attorney Yesenia L. Polanco-Galdamez handles immigration and criminal defense cases at Fayad Law P.C.’s North Carolina office. Contact the firm for assistance with asylum or any other immigration matter.
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