Many visitors to my site will know that I led a high-profile campaign in 2014 to help Afusat Saliu and her two young girls with their asylum case on the grounds of the risk of Female Genital Mutilation on Afusat’s daughters if they were returned to Nigeria. You can read some of the press releases here.
The public’s support to protect Afusat Saliu and her two daughters was incredible.
Almost 128,000 people signed my petition, enough to get the national media interested in the story. We got MPs to speak out and even found a legal team to submit applications on her behalf.
Many letters were sent to Theresa May, including one supported by the West Yorkshire Playhouse and around 20 directors, playwrights and performers. Thousands tweeted Virgin Airlines boss Richard Branson and stopped the first scheduled deportation.
Sadly, they were deported to Nigeria in June 2014. I am still proud of our campaign. We shone a light on the treatment of asylum seekers. None of this would have been possible without the collective known as Team Afusat.
What can you do?
We showed that people will come together for a common cause. If we all do a little, it can lead to major change.
If I can bring about a movement like this, me – with no training, funding or existing experience, so can you! With a growing number of amazing women, I’ve created a movement called Inspiring Women Changemakers. Join us!
What happened next?
My business partner, Dr Jean Garrod and I, put together a report on the scale of FGM in Leeds for a high-profile conference in the city. We worked with Leeds City Council and the specialist midwife unit to gather the data. You can download the report here.
I’m honoured to have been presented an ‘Outstanding Award for The Crusade against Gender-based Violence’ by Peacemaker International and to have been featured in ‘Eradicating FGM in the UK’ by Hilary Burrage, who writes for The Guardian.
Below is an example of how my campaigning inspired someone else to follow suit.
“I don’t know Anj Handa personally, but she’s the person who got me write to Theresa May regarding the deportation… I’m almost 5o and have never written in protest before, but someone has to say “This is wrong.”
In a digital age with ease of access to information and protest, where so many causes, so many voices and so much noise dilutes rather than engages, I have found Anj Handa to be a model of information who cares about people and their rights.
Anj Handa is a modern day protester – she speaks from a place of positivity and the belief that she can create change. She has been a consistent force for changing attitudes towards FGM.” Anonymous