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US Court Blocks Deportation of Nigerian Woman Fearing FGM - 2003-01-03

Here in the United States, a federal appeals court has temporarily blocked the deportation of a Nigerian woman who says she and her children would be subjected to genital mutilation if deported.

The US Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit has granted a request by Philomena Nwaokolo for a review of her case. The court describes female genital mutilation as “torture.” Ms. Nwaokolo lives in Dallas, Texas. Her attorney is Morton Sklar, director of the “World Organization Against Torture, USA.” Mr. Sklar spoke to English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua about the court’s decision.

Mr. Sklar says Ms. Nwaokolo, who is 42, was in the United States unlawfully after violating her student visa restrictions by working. To avoid deportation, she had agreed to voluntarily leave the country in 1986. She did not, and that has resulted in attempts by the Immigration and Naturalization Service to deport her.

However, during her stay in the United States, she has given birth to four children, two boys and two girls. All are US citizens. Mr. Sklar says the court is concerned that a US citizen, namely the woman’s daughters, would be subjected to torture if they were deported to Nigeria.

The court is expected to make a final decision by June or July. Click the above links to hear the interview with Morton Sklar.