Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Florence and Precious


I think I've missed the boat with the timing of this post - but the sentiment is there, so let's ignore the fact I've showed up late and embrace the fact I'm here.

Last night's vigil and blog-in supporting Florence and Precious Mhango got plenty support from Scotland's great and good in the blogosphere.  Anne and Caron led the way, ably supported by Will and Alison while Jeff and Subrosa both chipped in with their views, all saying the same thing: they've got to stay.  And I'm 100% behind them.

Each of the posts above makes the same point in slightly different ways.  Will points out we've led genocidal murderers (Pinochet) and terrorists (al-Megrahi) live freely out of compassion but we can't see fit to extend that same compassion to a mother and daughter who have made Scotland their home after suffering domestic abuse among other things.  And Jeff points out that David Cameron's warm words about a "Big Society" sound hollow when the Glasgow community to which Florence and Precious belong want them to stay and are being ignored by the political elites who think they know better.

Of course we should take immigration seriously, and the issue of asylum is a sensitive one - but this is a total no-brainer.  If we send them back to Malawi, we're condemning them to a life without each other, Precious to become the "property" of her father.  

I've never been one to call myself British, but if our government is doing this in our name... then I'm disgusted even to be associated with the concept.  Come on Dave - you banged on about compassionate Conservatism enough during the campaign - now lets see it in action.

13 comments:

Caron 20 July 2010 at 11:46  

I'm of the view that the more posts about Florence and Precious, whenever they are made, the better.

Thank you so much for this.

Bill 20 July 2010 at 16:26  

Whilst I am instinctively favourable to these two remaining in the UK, I have been having difficulty in finding out what is the basis for their claim to remain in this country under the obligations placed upon us by asylum regulations.

Try as I might I have so far been able to find any more information about this; none of the supporting blog articles, including your own, contain real fact, so far as I can see. Please point me in the direction of sources of factual information about this case. Many thanks.

Best regards
Bill

Bill 20 July 2010 at 16:28  

Sorry, forgot to tick the box to get email advices of follow-up posts in this thread. Now rectified.

Caron 20 July 2010 at 18:30  

Bill, I think that the essential issue is Precious' welfare. The UK Border Agency have been criticised no end of time for failing to properly consider the welfare of children it deports.

Essentially this little girl is Scottish now because she's been here for so long. That's why she should be allowed to stay.

It is a fact that the law in Malawi favours the husband in a divorce and that there is a long way to go before women achieve anything like equality. Therefore there is a real danger that Florence would be powerless if her ex husband's family took Precious. This is a wee girl who speaks only English an is settled here. Imagine what that would be like, to be taken by complete strangers who don't even speak the same language. It's not something we should allow to happen.

It's all about Precious' welfare - and this is an exceptional case.

Bill 20 July 2010 at 18:44  

I read what you have written, Caron and thank you for taking the time and trouble to comment, but I'm not convinced. Is there any evidence that the father's family would mis-treat this child in any way? Is there any evidence that she would not be loved and cherished by her father's family? Custody matters between divorcing parents are notoriously contentious; on what legal basis was the child taken out of Malawi by the mother? Did the father consent to the removal?

I'm not saying that this is not a very tragic case, just as are many, specially involving trans-national spouses, but the latter is not the case in this particular instance. I just do not think, on balance and on the evidence I am aware of so far, that it is a case where asylum regulations are relevant.

Malc 20 July 2010 at 20:13  

Bill,

Further to your previous comment. As far as I know (and my knowledge of the case is, I think, substantially lower than Caron's) is that they arrived here as a family on the father's student visa.

Subsequently - and whilst here - there was some measure of domestic abuse on the part of the husband (which does suggest that there is evidence that the child may be mis-treated were she placed in her father's care (plus the Malawian legal issue stipulating the child as property of the father.

The fact that Florence and Precious arrived here SEVEN years ago, are settled here and have adapted to the local community should probably be factored in too, though I realise that is a separate issue to the one you inquired about.

Bill 20 July 2010 at 20:35  

Malcolm

Well, your comments certainly place the matter in a somewhat different light, but unless a court here or in Malawi has placed the child exclusively in the care of the mother (because of the father's alleged mistreatment) then I don't see that asylum rules are necessarily applicable.

Generally speaking I am sympathetic to people seek 'refuge', but something in the way this story is being written up didn't strike me as entirely 'kosher'. Just trying to clarify the reality and not jump prematurely on a bandwagon. I'll reserve judgement until I learn more.

Malc 20 July 2010 at 21:11  

Fair enough Bill.

I probably should have done a little more research myself, rather than trusting that to others. Though I do trust what Caron and others have been saying is accurate!

On the point in hand, I'm not sure it was a court necessarily that put Precious in her mother's care, but I'd imagine the police may have had something to do with it (given the case). Saying that, perhaps Caron can shed some more light on that score?

As for me, I'm as against bandwagon-jumping as anyone, but there was a legitimate appeal to my sense of justice and I wrote about how I felt about the issue. But I do take your point!

Caron 21 July 2010 at 07:55  

Bill, my understanding is that the father's family have intimated to Precious' mother's family in Malawi their intention to take Precious and deny her any sort of access to her mother. That in itself would be a form of abuse, when it's clear she has a very close relationship with her mother and separation, particularly at this transitional kind of age for a girl, would be very hard for her to cope with.

This is before you even consider that she is not able to communicate with them because she doesn't speak the language.

I have a daughter roughly the same age as Precious and I'm fairly certain the thought of being permanently separated from me, or even temporarily so, would be pretty unbearable for her.

I also understand that this is a family in which the education of girls is not a priority and forced marriage is practiced as well as female genital mutilation. These are not things that a little girl brought up in Scotland would have expected to have to deal with.

Had Florence not been subjected to the domestic abuse, she and Precious would still have the right to be here as a dependent of her husband. He is now free to live in this country but she and her daughter face deportation. That can't be right.

The Supreme Court has recently stated that the discretion test whereby LGBT asylum seekers is illegal - and quite rightly. This means that LGBT people can't be deported and told to keep their sexuality secret.

If we accept that principle, then I think we also have to look carefully about whether we deport women and particularly children into situations where they are powerless within their country's legal system. If you have any questions about Malawi's treatment of women, it only criminalised domestic violence 4 years ago, after Florence and Precious were in this country.

The fact remains that Precious is safe and well here and there's a good chance she may not be if she's returned to Malawi. Because her case has gone on for so long, she is effectively Scottish. British/Scottish culture is really all she's ever known. That's not her fault, but the consequences to her of deportation would be serious.

Theresa May has the discretion to allow her to stay and I think that she should - the case is quite exceptional and some of Scotland's most senior leaders have put their names to supporting the Mhangos case.

Caron 21 July 2010 at 07:55  

Bill, my understanding is that the father's family have intimated to Precious' mother's family in Malawi their intention to take Precious and deny her any sort of access to her mother. That in itself would be a form of abuse, when it's clear she has a very close relationship with her mother and separation, particularly at this transitional kind of age for a girl, would be very hard for her to cope with.

This is before you even consider that she is not able to communicate with them because she doesn't speak the language.

I have a daughter roughly the same age as Precious and I'm fairly certain the thought of being permanently separated from me, or even temporarily so, would be pretty unbearable for her.

I also understand that this is a family in which the education of girls is not a priority and forced marriage is practiced as well as female genital mutilation. These are not things that a little girl brought up in Scotland would have expected to have to deal with.

Had Florence not been subjected to the domestic abuse, she and Precious would still have the right to be here as a dependent of her husband. He is now free to live in this country but she and her daughter face deportation. That can't be right.

The Supreme Court has recently stated that the discretion test whereby LGBT asylum seekers is illegal - and quite rightly. This means that LGBT people can't be deported and told to keep their sexuality secret.

If we accept that principle, then I think we also have to look carefully about whether we deport women and particularly children into situations where they are powerless within their country's legal system. If you have any questions about Malawi's treatment of women, it only criminalised domestic violence 4 years ago, after Florence and Precious were in this country.

The fact remains that Precious is safe and well here and there's a good chance she may not be if she's returned to Malawi. Because her case has gone on for so long, she is effectively Scottish. British/Scottish culture is really all she's ever known. That's not her fault, but the consequences to her of deportation would be serious.

Theresa May has the discretion to allow her to stay and I think that she should - the case is quite exceptional and some of Scotland's most senior leaders have put their names to supporting the Mhangos case.

Caron 21 July 2010 at 07:57  

Bill, my understanding is that the father's family have intimated to Precious' mother's family in Malawi their intention to take Precious and deny her any sort of access to her mother. That in itself would be a form of abuse, when it's clear she has a very close relationship with her mother and separation, particularly at this transitional kind of age for a girl, would be very hard for her to cope with.

This is before you even consider that she is not able to communicate with them because she doesn't speak the language.

I have a daughter roughly the same age as Precious and I'm fairly certain the thought of being permanently separated from me, or even temporarily so, would be pretty unbearable for her.

I also understand that this is a family in which the education of girls is not a priority and forced marriage is practiced as well as female genital mutilation. These are not things that a little girl brought up in Scotland would have expected to have to deal with.

Had Florence not been subjected to the domestic abuse, she and Precious would still have the right to be here as a dependent of her husband. He is now free to live in this country but she and her daughter face deportation. That can't be right.

The Supreme Court has recently stated that the discretion test whereby LGBT asylum seekers is illegal - and quite rightly. This means that LGBT people can't be deported and told to keep their sexuality secret.

If we accept that principle, then I think we also have to look carefully about whether we deport women and particularly children into situations where they are powerless within their country's legal system. If you have any questions about Malawi's treatment of women, it only criminalised domestic violence 4 years ago, after Florence and Precious were in this country.

The fact remains that Precious is safe and well here and there's a good chance she may not be if she's returned to Malawi. Because her case has gone on for so long, she is effectively Scottish. British/Scottish culture is really all she's ever known. That's not her fault, but the consequences to her of deportation would be serious.

Theresa May has the discretion to allow her to stay and I think that she should - the case is quite exceptional and some of Scotland's most senior leaders have put their names to supporting the Mhangos case.

Bill 21 July 2010 at 08:18  

As I am out for the whole day I shall respond to Caron's lengthy 'comment-bombing' ;) when I return this evening. There are responses, rest assured.

Caron 21 July 2010 at 14:49  

I completely apologise for having posted that long comment three times over.

I have no idea how it happened. The page froze on me several times and I was worried I'd lost it.

Only one long, rambling comment for Bill to respond to......

Post a Comment

Contact

Feel free to get in touch with me if you have an issue with something you've read here... or if you simply want to debate some more! You can email me at:

baldy_malc - AT - hotmail - DOT - com

Comment Policy

I'm quite happy - indeed, eager - to engage in debate with others when the topic provides opportunity to do so. I like knowing who I'm debating with and I'm fed up with some abusive anonymous comments so I've disabled those comments for awhile. If you want to comment, log in - it only takes a minute.

Disclaimer

Regrettably, this is probably required:
This blog is my own personal opinion (unless otherwise stated) and does not necessarily reflect the views of any other organisation (political or otherwise) that I am a member of or affiliated to.
Related Posts with Thumbnails

  © Blogger template The Business Templates by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP