The client, Ms. Diallo* was raised in a community in Western Guinea where Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) is practiced. She underwent FGM/C (Type II) at a very young age and, at the age of 17, was married off to an older man. He claimed that she hadn't been circumcised correctly and should be cut again. Ms. Diallo resisted his request and, consequently, was threatened and attacked by her family. She fled Guinea and requested asylum in the Netherlands.
Ms. Diallo claimed to be at risk of persecution from her family. She asserted that being forced to return to Guinea against her will would breach Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights. A Dutch NGO supporting refugees contacted us and requested an expert opinion to form part of the evidence in the asylum claim.
FGM/C in Guinea
The national FGM/C prevalence in Guinea is exceptionally high at 94.5%. The practice is performed by people from all major religious and ethnic groups. Even though the practice is criminalized by Article 265 of the Penal Code, the law is not actively enforced. Cases are hardly reported due to shame and family pressure, and, when reported, they are not promptly investigated and rarely prosecuted. The efforts to prevent and combat harmful traditional practices in Guinea, including FGM/C, are very limited.
In assessing the case and writing our extensive report, we focused on whether Ms. Diallo would be at risk of undergoing FGM/C again, whether the authorities or NGOs would be able to protect her and wheter she would be able to relocate within their home country.
We found her account consistent with Dr. Middelburg’s background knowledge, and concluded that it was plausible for her to face a real risk (‘foreseeable risk’) to undergo FGM/C again upon return to Guinea. Consequently, she would probably find herself in a situation that conflicts with Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).
*For security and privacy reasons, the names of clients and specific facts and details from this case have been modified.