The Defenders :: Fauziya Kassindja

Fauziya Kassindja. Photo by Eddie Adams
Fauziya Kassindja. Photo by Eddie Adams

“On Thursday they said I'd be married. On Friday they told me they'd cut me. At midnight I escaped.” Fauziya Kassindja escaped genital mutilation by fleeing from her village in Togo and making her way to the U.S. where in 1994, she sought political asylum. U.S. officials proceeded to strip the 17-year-old orphan naked, put her in chains, imprison her, and send her through the nightmare known as the U.S. immigration system. After extensive advocacy by a law student at American University and an appearance on the front page of The New York Times, Kassindja became the first person to receive asylum based on the threat of genital mutilation. She has since spoken out about the difficulties she faced in the U.S. immigration system.


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