Call for Help fromDresden
Shortly before Christmas 2002 we received a call from
Dresden. The caller was afraid that the five-year old
daughter of her Gambian neighbour was threatened with
genital mutilation. The girl was to be brought to Gambia
at the start of January 2003 for an initial two years,
so that the mother could concentrate on her training
as an elderly care nurse.
The fear is accurate and the danger is concrete: according
to Amnesty International, almost 90% of all women in
Gambia are victims of FGM. We immediately informed the
police. Then we received another report from the concerned
neighbour: the trip had reportedly been cancelled. Neither
she nor we believed that. Annette Weber immediately
called the airlines, asking to transfer the booking.
Three appropriate flights were actually booked!
We quickly alerted the criminal investigation department
and the emergency federal prosecutor in Dresden. At
first there was doubt as to jurisdiction, as the mother
and daughter are Gambians. Therefore, on the night of
23rd December, we sent a fax to Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul
(SPD), Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development.
She is strongly committed against Female Genital Mutilation.
On the next day, the child was temporarily removed
from the mother's care and the trip was prevented by
a provisional injunction.
However, the case was not over. The mother, with the
help of a lawyer, appealed against the decision of the
Dresden Higher Regional Court to ban the young girl
from travelling to Gambia permanently. The case finally
ended before the family law panel at the Federal Court
of Justice. Its decision was in favour of humanity:
the mother's right to determine her child's place of
abode was limited, i.e. she is not permitted to bring
the child to Gambia. The genital mutilation threatened
there is a breach of human rights and severe physical
and psychological mistreatment, which is not inferior
to substantial torture practices as grounds for asylum.