Togo Woman Speaks of U.S. Prison Conditions Upon Release

At a news briefing on Monday (4-29), Fauziya Kasinga said she would like the whole world to end the practice of female genital mutilation. The case of Kasinga, who fled her native Togo in 1994 at the age of 17 to escape FGM, will be heard by the U.S. Board of Immigration Appeals on Thursday, May 2. Kasinga is seeking political asylum in the U.S. because she says FGM amounts to persecution in Togo. Released from jail on April 24 after being detained for two years, Kasinga spoke softly and said, I thought the United States was a place of justice…Instead of receiving protection, I was punished by being put in jail.” A year after Kasinga’s case was dismissed by a judge who called her claims unbelievable,” federal immigration lawyers now say her persecution claim may hold up, due to the deeply objectionable” nature of the tribal ritual which can result in severe health complications including death. According to an INS spokesperson, the agency will recommend that the case be used to set guidelines for immigration judges. Kasinga’s lawyer, Karen Musalo, said that the dehumanizing conditions” Kasinga endured in the U.S. immigration system could get worse if proposed immigration legislation passes Congress.


The Los Angeles Times - April 30, 1996; The Washington Post - April 30, 1996

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