ARTICLE: Female Circumcision in the Modern Age: Should Female Circumcision Now be Considered Grounds for Asylum in the United States? Skip over navigation
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Copyright (c) 1998 State University of New York at Buffalo School of Law 
Buffalo Human Rights Law Review

ARTICLE: Female Circumcision in the Modern Age: Should Female Circumcision Now be Considered Grounds for Asylum in the United States?

1998

4 Buff. Hum. Rts. L. Rev. 185

Author

Gregory A. Kelson *

Excerpt

I. INTRODUCTION

On March 23, 1994, Lydia Oluloro, a Nigerian national who was in the United States illegally, sat in the Portland, Oregon, office of her attorney, Tilman Hasche, listening to the oral decision of U.S. Immigration Judge Kendal Warren. 2 Judge Warren had granted Ms. Oluloro a suspension of deportation 3 based on "extreme hardship" for herself and her American-born daughters. 4 Ms. Oluloro had argued before the judge that if she were deported, "her daughters would be subject to female circumcision in Nigeria." 5

In Baltimore two years later, a woman from Sierra Leone appeared before U.S. Immigration Judge John Gossart, Jr. in the hopes of winning asylum based on the fear of female circumcision. Judge Gossart denied asylum to the woman, stating "respondent cannot change that she is a female, but she can change her mind with regards to her position towards the [female genital mutilation] practices. It is not beyond the respondent's control to acquiesce to the tribal position on [genital mutilation]." 6 In two other cases, in Orange County, California and Arlington, Virginia, asylum was granted to a Somalian woman and a woman from Sierra Leone respectively based on the same fear of persecution. 7 In the Virginia case, Immigration Judge Paul Nejelski stated "that mutilation alone provides a 'humanitarian justification' for awarding asylum." 8

The Oluloro case in Portland, Oregon marked the first time that a woman used the defense of female circumcision in an ...
 
 
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