Save Josephine Komeh

When I signed this petition my signature was number 24, and it needs a LOT more than that. So please both sign it and publicize it on social media.

63-year old Josephine Komeh is a courageous fighter against FGM/Cutting in Sierra Leone who opposed it in the most practical way – by refusing to cut girls and young women herself. She was severely tortured because she had defied the traditional authorities that maintain this brutal practice.

Josephine sought asylum in Britain, where the Government condemns FGM, but the Home Office plans to deport her on 24th July. She will face further torture back in Sierra Leone unless she agrees to cut. There is no-one there to protect her: her husband is dead, a son & daughter live in Britain, and her other children were killed during the 11-year Civil War.

Josephine’s grandmother and mother were traditional ‘cutters’ and trained her as next-in-line. She opposed FGM and felt it clashed with her responsibility for the girls she taught as a head teacher. When her mother died she tried to avoid
taking her place, but the women’s society that organises FGM forced her to cut young girls until she refused to continue. That is when she was tortured.

On 29th May Josephine was taken from Leeds where she lived, to Yarl’s Wood detention centre. Her asylum claim was rejected despite a medical report from Freedom From Torture, but she successfully resisted an attempt to deport her on 5th June. Since then she has gathered more evidence, but the Home Office plans to deport her before a fresh claim can be considered. Her deportation is set for Wednesday 24th July at 6.30am from Heathrow on Brussels Airlines flight SN2104.

Well good god what are the UK authorities thinking? I don’t know, but let’s hope a petition prompts them to think better.

Sign here.



  1. jagwired says

    Hi Ophelia,

    Could I request that you continue to sprinkle in some impressionist paintings amongst your posts? Often times after reading your blog I start thinking that we as a species should all die in a nuclear conflagration. An occasional Monet or Van Gogh might help ameliorate those thoughts.

  2. notyet says

    I was signer # 186 and I posted the following in the comment section:
    How can there be any question on this matter? What remotely civilized country would force anyone to return to a situation where their choices were to torture or be tortured. If this woman were in the same circumstances in the UK the local law enforcement group would be dispatched to rescue her and arrest those responsible for her de facto enslavement. With that in mind it is nothing less than hypocrisy of the highest order to return her against her will to what can only be seen as a criminal endeavor. If she actually desired to return to FGM activities I can envision circumstances where she would be detained as an international criminal and held for trial. Isn’t that what we do with people who admit to these kinds of atrocities? To force her to return to activities that we would vigorously attempt to prevent her from resuming voluntarily is indefensible. There is no moral justification for her deportation, and in reality the act of forcing her return to a position of immoral and inhumane servitude constitutes evil.

    I will be posting your plea, my comment and a link to the petition on my Facebook page and encouraging all of my friends to do the same. The last petition that I signed was to encourage the arrest and prosecution of G Zimmerman. I hope that this one ends more justly.

  3. opposablethumbs says

    Signed – and also ashamed of my pusillanimous country. How could they even think of refusing her leave to remain?

  4. notyet says

    Thank you, your compliment means a lot. I posted on my Facebook page asking everyone to go sign it and I passed the link to the head of our Freedom From Religion group here in Albuquerque so that he can alert the hundred plus members to the issue. Maybe we can have an impact.

  5. Margaret says


    @notyet, *waves* Hi from another atheist in Albuquerque. I didn’t know there was a Freedom from Religion group here.

  6. says

    It’s at 398 now. I see your signature, Margaret – and a few below yours, Katha Pollitt’s.

    I hope the HO is listening…Wednesday is the 24th.


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