Faith is asking for
sanctuary in the UK, having fled from repeated rapes in her country
which are linked to her sexuality
I FIRST met my "cousin", as he
was introduced to me, in 2009. He was in his 50s, I was 24.
Actually, I knew of him before; so I couldn't understand why my
parents were introducing us like that. Afterwards, they told me
that we were going to get married. I told my mum that I didn't want
to marry him, and I tried to refuse.
I don't like him: he's abusive.
I've seen him several times, either at my parents' house or,
sometimes, with my friends, when he would forceably take me away.
He has raped me several times - maybe more than three times. He
raped me in 2011, and I have a baby from that. I told my mum
everything, but she kept saying that it was my fault, and that if I
had married him it wouldn't happen.
I think they tried to get me to
marry because they suspect that I am a lesbian.
I started dating girls in 1998,
when I was at high school, but I kept it secret from my family. I
don't know of anyone who has been arrested for that in my country,
but it's very dangerous. If you are lesbian, the belief is that it
is because you have not met the right man yet. If they know your
sexuality, any man can rape you [it is known as "corrective" rape].
And if you go to the police, they will not take you seriously.
I went to them about my
cousin's raping me. He was arrested the first time, and held for
two days and nights, and then he was just let out. Domestic
violence is common, and sometimes, if you say he is a cousin, they
just say it is a family matter. The men can pay their way out as
well, so it's hard to fight them.
I tried to run away instead. I
went to Botswana, but he rang me there; so I went to friend in
South Africa, but he came with one of my uncles and took me back.
After that, some friends helped me to get the money to pay to come
to the UK. And as soon as I arrived, I claimed asylum.
At the airport, the people from
the Home Office were saying to me: "What you're telling us is not
the truth; we're going to deport you to your country in ten days."
I was detained immediately, and held for three days, then put in a
detention centre. It felt like I had done something very wrong;
like I had done a crime.
When I saw the door here, it
felt like prison. It felt so bad I could barely talk. It was a long
journey here from the airport, so I was tired; and when I had my
health-care interview, I didn't tell them about the rapes. I think
I was in shock. But now they are holding that against me in terms
of my claim.
Sometimes you are hungry, and
want to eat something in the night, or have a cup of tea, but
everything is locked; we don't even have access to a microwave. But
I don't go for breakfast any more because, even with medication, I
can't sleep at night, and in the morning I'm very tired.
I try to keep positive. I help
in the kitchen and laundry room to clean, wash dishes, cut the
salad, that kind of thing. I get paid £1 per hour. Sometimes I
plait ladies' hair, too. It gives me something, and I can earn a
bit of money to phone my son.
I was given a plane ticket in
April to send me back home, but then I submitted a fresh claim. The
report from Medical Justice's assessment, however - of evidence of
the rapes, and of scarring from where I was beaten by him - wasn't
ready to lodge with that. So they issued me with another ticket for
I put in another fresh claim,
including the Medical Justice report, but on 15 May they tried to
deport me. They took me on a flight to Italy, then on another
flight to Germany. At the airport, German immigration refused to
let me to on the next flight to my home country, because the
escorts didn't have a letter from the authorities to say that they
would accept me.
We spent a night stuck in the
airport. It was humiliating; everyone was staring at me. The
escorts had wanted to put me in detention, but the German
immigration authorities refused on the basis that they had no
grounds to detain me. The next day, I was put on a flight back to
The airport lost my luggage,
and I was detained for a few days, then sent back to the detention
centre. Those few days made me feel disorientated, scared,
humiliated. I do not feel like I have been treated like a human
When I left my country, I left
my son with my mum. Because I couldn't tell her what I was doing, I
didn't even get to say goodbye. When my mum found out that I am not
coming back, she said she wouldn't take care of him any longer, so
he's with an aunt on my father's side, now. She is the only family
who understands. But she has five kids of her own, and isn't
married or working. She has livestock, and that's how she
The other month, a friend of
mine passed away. He was stabbed. He had been helping my aunt a bit
financially, and knows about my sexuality. My aunt thinks my cousin
had something to do with his death because, before he died, he
received text messages from him.
Now, most people from where I
am from, know that I have claimed asylum here; so, if I am not
successful, I will be in even more danger. The Home Office
approached my country to ask if I could have protection, but the
police in my country don't take kindly to people who go out of the
country and claim asylum. Now I am scared of them, too.
Faith's fresh claim,
including the Medical Justice report, has now been accepted by the
Home Office. She is still in detention, waiting for a decision on