Theresa May has intervened to halt the deportation of a woman who claimed that her three-year-old daughter would face female genital mutilation if they returned to Nigeria.
The decision to refuse Lola Ilesanmi’s application to remain in the UK has been withdrawn and the prime minister has ordered Brandon Lewis, the immigration minister, to personally oversee a review of her case.
Ilesanmi, 29, alleged that she was beaten, forced to have an abortion and had her face “smashed with an iPad” by her estranged husband because of her refusal to subject their daughter to FGM. He has denied the allegations.
May wrote a letter to Ilesanmi’s MP, Hannah Bardell of the Scottish National party, stating that she regarded FGM as “abhorrent” and that Amber Rudd, the home secretary, had heard her account.
In her letter, the prime minister said: “FGM is a crime, it is child abuse and will not be accepted in this country. This government will not tolerate a practice that can cause extreme and lifelong physical and psychological suffering to women and girls.
“I made my commitment to end this practice clear during my time as home secretary … This government takes the issue of FGM very seriously and remains committed to ending FGM within a generation.”
Ilesanmi, who worked as a business analyst with RBS for four years in Livingston, Scotland, had a joint visa with her husband. He is believed to have told Home Office officials that they were estranged after she and her daughter fled the marital home. The Home Office subsequently refused Ilesanmi leave to stay in the UK.
Bardell appealed for May to intervene at prime minister’s questions in the House of Commons earlier this month.
The MP said she was very glad about May’s intervention and added: “Lola needs leave to remain to restart her life in Livingston … Leave to remain is not yet guaranteed and is vital for the safety of Lola and her young family.”
Ilesamni has previously said that she wants to rebuild her life in Scotland, her home for the past six years. “I am not here for benefits, I am not here to seek help from the government,” she told the BBC. “I am an educated woman I just want to continue to empower myself so that I can continue to contribute to society, to contribute to the community.
“All I ask is just to get my life back together and to not allow this man to win because that would be the height of abuse.”
A report released last week disclosed that more than 9,000 attendances to NHS services in England in 2016 involved the identification or treatment of FGM. The data, covering the period from April 2016 to March 2017, includes figures from NHS trusts and GP practices.
The findings show that there were 9,179 attendances in the past year in which FGM was identified or treatment was given or a woman with FGM had given birth to a baby girl. In total, 5,391 attendances were recorded in the system for the first time, including 114 cases involving girls under the age of 16.