Thursday, 20 May 2010

Sehar Shebaz And Little Wania Belong To Scotland

HO ref S1369454

Sehar Shebaz and her little 12 month old daughter were detained by the Home Office at Monday lunch-time. She has been given removal directions for Pakistani Airlines flight PK758 at 17.00hrs on Saturday 22nd May.

At this very moment 26 year old Shebaz and Wania are being moved from Dungavel detention centre to Yarl's Wood detention centre. The journey, as a prisoner in a G4S private security van will take the family at least ten hours.

Sehar came to the UK in May 2007 on a student visa to marry a Pakistani national living in Lancashire in an arranged marriage. Her husband’s family arranged for her to get her student visa to the UK. After a Sharia marriage in 2007 her husband became abusive and would not let her leave the house. His was often drunk and violent. On at least two occasions the police were called to their house.

In November 2009 she was attacked by her husband and went to Women’s Aid in Blackburn. She then came to Glasgow where an application for her visa extension made before she fled her husband was finally turned down in December. Sehar claimed asylum on 24th December 2009. Her asylum claim was refused on 22nd January this year.

Sehar’s husband has managed to track her down in Glasgow since she moved to the city and has made threatening phone calls to her. She has had to move flat to a safe address as a result.

The House of Lords has ruled that women in Pakistan constituted a particular social group because due to their gender, they were discriminated against as a group in matters of fundamental human rights and the State gave them no adequate protection because they were perceived as not being entitled to the same human rights as men.

The Home Office’s own Operational Guidance Notes clearly state that: “Asylum claims from Pakistani women who have demonstrated that they face a serious risk of domestic violence which will amount to persecution or torture or inhuman or degrading treatment must be considered in the context of individual circumstances of each claim.

In February this year Human Rights Watch published a 69-page report by Gauri van Gulik, women’s rights researcher. Her report “Fast-Tracked Unfairness - Detention and Denial of Women Asylum Seekers in the UK” raising the issue that often women with claims involving domestic abuse are failed by the UK’s new ‘fast track’ asylum model which is too simplistic and women with complex cases have far too little time to prepare their case, obtain medical or other expert opinions, and establish the credibility of their claims. This is especially true in cases involving rape or abuse, where women may only be able to come forward with relevant information late in the process, or not at all, because they may be traumatized by their experience, frightened by the procedure, or simply embarrassed to tell an official.

Sehar had her case refused only four weeks by the Home Office after she submitted it with limited legal advice over the Christmas holiday period.

Sehar was detained before she was able to make fresh submissions to the Home Office with new evidence from Lancashire Constabulary and Strathclyde Police of her husband’s threats to her.

Sehar had her case refused at appeal by an Immigration Judge partially on the grounds that as her husband, who although a Pakistani national, resides in the UK therefore she would not be in any danger from him if she was returned to Pakistan.

But as a single women who has fled her husband Sehar would be in real danger if she is returned to Pakistan.

Human Rights Watch reported in 2008 that "Violence against women and girls, including domestic violence, rape, “honor killings,” acid attacks, and forced marriages, remain serious problems in Pakistan. Precise figures on gender-based violence are difficult to obtain, but estimates range from 50-90 percent of women experiencing some form of violence. Survivors of violence encounter unresponsiveness and hostility at each level of the criminal justice system, from police who fail to register or investigate cases of gender-based violence to judges with little training or commitment to women’s equal rights. According to Pakistan's Interior Ministry, there have been more than 4,100 “honor killings” since 2001…
Pakistan has no specific domestic violence legislation and has failed to repeal the repressive Hudood Ordinances. This set of laws, enacted in 1979, has led to thousands of women being imprisoned for so-called “honour” crimes and has rendered most sexual assault victims unable to seek redress through the criminal justice system, deeming them guilty of illegal sex rather than victims of unlawful violence or abuse. " (Human Rights Watch's Submission to the Human Rights Council May 2008)

A US State Department Report in 2008 recorded that:
Domestic violence was a widespread and serious problem. Husbands reportedly beat, and occasionally killed, their wives. Other forms of domestic violence included torture and shaving. In-laws abused and harassed married women. Dowry and family-related disputes often resulted in death or disfigurement by burning or acid. There is no specific legislation prohibiting domestic violence, but sections of the Penal Code can be used to invoke justice for the victim.

Sehar is currently being moved to Yarl's Wood Detention Centre. Friends and supporters have managed to arrange legal representation for her in England.

Please take these urgent action steps to help Sehar

Email/Fax, Rt. Hon. Theresa May MP Secretary of State for the Home Office asking that Sehar, Shebaz be granted protection in the UK. Download "SeharShebazMinisterletter" which you can copy / amend / write your own version (if you do so, please remember to include her HO ref S1369454 )
Fax: 020 8760 3132 (00 44 20 8760 3132 if you are faxing from outside UK)
FAX or call Pakistan International Airlines
You can download the template letter or you may wish to write your own.
Fax: 0207 733 6209
Tel: 0207 287 3342

You may also wish to contact:

Nick Clegg, Lib Dems leader
And Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond

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