I did not write this letter. It’s come via a friend who has kindly given me permission to reprint. The letter speaks for itself but please take the time to email both Theresa May and your local MP about this very serious case. Violence against women is far too often dismissed as a concern for individual women. VAW is systemic and endemic and should be recognised as such under British law and we should be offering safety to all women fleeing from VAW.
Dear Home secretary,
I am writing on behalf of Fariman Saleh and her two children Liaily El-Attar and Ibrahim El-Attar who belong in Cardiff.
Mrs Saleh and her children arrived from Egypt in 2007 leaving behind a cruel and abusive husband and father. She had endured 15 years of domestic violence and rape, for which he was never tried, due to his close links with Egyptian police and judges. Soon after arrival they received threats to their lives, by their servants’ father who wanted revenge for his daughters illegitimate child, fathered by Mrs Saleh’s husband. As Mrs Saleh’s husband had impunity, his closest family members were at risk.
Mrs Saleh’s youngest daughter, Liaily, was still at school in Egypt, which led to Mrs Saleh claiming asylum under a false nationality, saying she was from Iraq. This was to protect Liaily, as Mrs Saleh believed that the Egyptian authorities would find and harm her daughter if they knew she had claimed asylum in the UK. Once her daughter was safe in the UK, she explained that she had lied about her nationality.
Her asylum claim was subsequently refused, but I believe the credibility of her claim has wrongly been questioned ever since. Mrs Saleh provided evidence to back up her claim, but due to improper legal representation, her evidence was not properly translated. It is clear to me that her only reason to provide a false nationality was because of the risks to her daughter’s safety and she would not have done so if she had known how this would affect her claim.
Their solicitor is currently making a fresh representation on their behalf, and I ask that this is fully considered on its own merits, without questioning her initial error.
The family have lived in the UK for 5 years now and have integrated well into the Cardiff community. Her children have spent their adolescence growing up here and consider this to be their country. They are settled here, have made good friends and enjoy regular social activities. They are happily progressing through the education system and currently taking exams. Should they be rightly permitted to reside here in the UK, they would be able to complete their education and be in the position of living full and prosperous lives. They all make a positive contribution to the community and would be missed.
Their life is still in danger in Egypt, where violence and intolerance against women has increased and as a single mother, it would be impossible for Mrs Saleh to protect her children or live a normal and fulfilling life. There is no protection available for the family by either the police or the government as the country is still in chaos since the uprising in 2011. If her daughter returns there, she is at significant risk of violence, FGM and forced marriage.
I request that Mrs Saleh, Liaily and Ibrahim be allowed to continue living in Cardiff while the representations made by their solicitor are considered afresh, and that the Home Office take my views into account in the decision process.
I urge the Home Secretary to act on compassionate grounds and grant them the right to stay in the UK.