Over three years ago, Begum X fled India from the horrors of a forced marriage and rape. Today she faces deportation following a failed asylum claim.
In July 2005, Begum X failed in her final asylum appeal to remain in the UK as a victim of rape and the repercussions of fleeing a forced marriage in India. Her claim was dismissed on the grounds that abuse and harassment from her ex-husband’s family did not constitute persecution under the Geneva Convention, and that she could safely relocate within India. She has claimed, as have other female asylum-seekers from the Third World, that relocation is not feasible in the societies that they have come from.
Evidence provided by experts for her asylum appeal stated that as a divorced and lone woman she would be very vulnerable without protection and that her ex-husband and his family could rapidly discover her whereabouts. Begum X has claimed that if she were forced to go back to India and her husband found her she would be killed.
Her MP, Gwyn Prosser, has been highly supportive of her campaign and managed to secure an acknowledgement from the immigration minister, Tony McNulty, that as a rape survivor she would not be detained while making her asylum claim. Yet, she still worries that she will end up in Yarls Wood removal centre, like many other women fleeing domestic violence and rape.
Begum X has managed to settle in Kent and built a life through her campaign and supporting asylum seekers detained at Dover detention centre. After her nurses training and through improvements in her English, she has secured a training position as a human rights advocate in London.
Kate Adams from the Begum X Must Stay Campaign told IRR News that ‘Begum X is a courageous woman and has grown in confidence through her campaigning’. She hopes to make a fresh claim for asylum using new important evidence being gathered by a leading non-governmental organisation. Her campaign also hopes to work with other women’s campaigns to form a broader coalition to highlight their plight and force the immigration minister, Tony McNulty, to recognise that asylum-seeking women should be afforded protection from domestic violence.