Little did I know that my Self-Expression and Leadership Programme Project, World Community Day, which was held in Sligo, Ireland, in the Autumn of 2005, would have such far reaching effects. My commitment was to have the many new immigrants be formally welcomed and acknowledged by the public representatives of Sligo town. I was particularly interested in Globe House where asylum seekers resided.
It was there in June 2005 that I first met and befriended Pamela Izevbekhai and her two young daughters, Naomi and Gemima. She shared her story with me and I was blown away by the courage and dignity of this woman. She had lost her baby girl, Elizabeth, who died after undergoing female genital mutilation (FGM) at the hands of her husband’s family. Izevbekhai subsequently fled Nigeria to save her other daughters from the same plight.
Pamela did the Landmark Forum in September 2006 and invented the Possibility of Freedom. She now faces the threat of deportation back to Nigeria, which could put her life and the lives of her daughters into serious jeopardy. Izevbekhai is a deeply spiritual and much respected person, and the people of Sligo, Amnest International, and the national media are behind her cause. However it will take everything to make the difference not only to protect Pamela’s family, but many other families around the world who are affected by FGM.
As recently as last week, it appeared that Pamela and her daughters would be immediately and forcibly deported back to Nigeria after her legal appeals had run out and Justice Minister Brian Lenihan refused to hear an application for subsidiary protection. However, High Court Justice John Smith stopped the process, criticizing Lenihan for “the inadequacy of reasons given, irrationality, and the perceived arbitrariness of the process.”
Justice Smith’s decision does not guarantee Pamela anything, as Lenihan may still enforce her deportation after he now reviews the case. Urgent action is needed to prevent Izevbekhai to being put back at the mercy of those who may kill or injure herself or her daughters.