A successful case is made for granting refugee status to a woman fleeing her own country to protect her daughter from female genital mutilation

James Andrew RICE

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In November 1996, the UNHCR office in Hong Kong recognized a claim for asylum made by a woman who along with her two children had fled from her native Ghana because she feared that her daughter would be harmed by being subjected to female genital mutilation (FGM). The practice of FGM poses a significant harm to women in Sub Saharan Africa and parts of the Middle East and Asia. FGM persists because of cultural and religious factors. Despite this, it is morally wrong because it is done by in large without consent, and it inflicts severe pain and lasting ill effects on those it is done to. This case, relying on other decisions made by Canadian and the United States immigration boards is a significant development in the protection of girls and women who are subjected to FGM.