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Australia: Kenyan women refused refugee status

Teresia and Grace Two Kenyan women are facing deportation from Australia after their asylum applications were rejected, despite risks that they may suffer forced genital mutilation if they are sent home.

According to an article in Australian newspaper, The Age, Grace Gichuhi, 22, and Teresia Ndikaru Muturi, 21, arrived in Australia in July last year on tourist visas for World Youth Day.

There have been few reactions to the case from most of the political blogosphere regulars in Australia. Climate change and economic stimulus strategies have dominated in the last week.

But the article on The Age has attracted 54 comments from online readers showing anything but popular disinterest. The comments represent opposite poles of opinion, including:

Let these women stay.

Ben | Adelaide – September 22, 2009, 9:30AM

They applied. Their applications were assessed. Their applications were refused.
Send them home.
Case closed.

David_T – September 22, 2009, 9:34AM

How pathetic that these two women should be refused asylum. Australia could do well to have more people like these two girls and as far as I'm concerned they're welcome here for as long as they wish.

jollysroger | Townsville – September 22, 2009, 10:22AM

On her blog, at Pocket Carnival, Penny Eager says she was moved to write to the Minister for Immigration & Citizenship, Chris Evans on his online contact page, expressing her outrage:

I have just heard of the case of Grace Gichuhi & Teresia Ndikaru Muturi, two women from Kenya who have been denied status as refugees.

I believe that the torturous practise of genital mutilation is abhorrent, and that to deny these women refugee visas is to take a weak stance on this issue.

I urge you to intervene in this case, not only to help these women, but also to send a clear message to Kenya that Australia does not condone these practises.

A religious issue?

Aussie News and Views a self-styled “American, Australian, Israeli, British ‘Judeo-Christian Friendly’ blog” posted a video of a news clip about the women and asked:

Gee I wonder who could be behind this? what sort of Satan worshipping Death Cult could be alive and well in Kenya today that would do such a thing to young women?

Philip Maguire at Whaddya Reckon? drew a number of comments with his post:

TWO Kenyan Christian women are to be deported from Australia despite facing death or genital mutilation.

Maybe they should have arrived here cashed up via a boat from Indonesia.

Lisa Valentine of Embrace Australia, an online community for foreign nationals looking to live in Australia, also took up their case:

Both Grace and Teresia are now terrified of what fate will lie in wait for them if they are deported back to Kenya.

A spokesman from the Australian Immigration Department said: “Under the refugee convention, they weren’t found to engage with Australia’s international obligations.

The girls, along with Sister Aileen Crowe, a Franciscan nun who is supporting them, launched an appeal to the Australian Immigration Minister, Chris Evans, but he rejected that appeal. A second appeal has now been launched and the girls are awaiting the results but have been told to prepare for deportation.

Ironically new legislation is due to be introduced to Parliament that would ensure protection for the girls. The legislation is called Complementary Protection and it expands the criteria under which a refugee can apply for protection.


Online campaign

On Facebook a ‘Causes’ page titled Help save these Women from Genital Mutilation has been launched by Australians who support the women's attempt to stay in Australia. So far, 91 people have joined. An update was posted on Tuesday by Vanessa Muradian:

This is the most recent update – sources said these women are protected here in Australia — until Evans decides what to do with them. Whether he rejected them or not the first time we are still to know… the government need to pass the complimentary visa… which I am further researching at the moment – Basically the complimentary visa, will ‘compliment’ the protection visa, SO THAT THESE refugees can fall under a protection visa. CURRENTLY the protection visa doesn't protect women from GENITAL MUTILATION and honour killings. The bill was proposed to parliament in September and currently the Liberal party are opposing this bill…

Right now these women just need our support – Minister Evans will be making the decision with his privilege of Ministerial Intervention.

I guess we need to contact him…

As well as other governing bodies whom can help the government pass the complimentary bill!!!!!!!

12 comments

  • I have just heard of the case of Grace Gichuhi & Teresia Ndikaru Muturi, two women from Kenya who have been denied status as refugees.

    Iam asking immigration minister Chris how do you expect this country grow, to increase in population and get more labour, as a part of growth in economic and expansion of the cities and urbanisation in Australia as we can see some of the cities are declining from the population.
    according to their situation why don’t you allow them to add up Australia population

  • DTOYE

    In response to the comment above, I agree that its absurd that people believe that these women, after being deported will be put through Female Genital Mutilation. “FGM” is outlawed in Kenya, but practiced in some areas that associate it with a woman’s right of passage into womanhood. If these women don’t want to be in Kenya and haven’t been accepted Asylum, There are 203 countries in the world and it isn’t mandatory that they return to Kenya. So I personally think, they should give up their probable hope for a petition that lets them stay here and just go to another country.

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