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Monday, June 24, 2024 | Back issues
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Alleged Mutilation Victim|Wins U.S. Asylum Appeal

(CN) - The Board of Immigration Appeals must reconsider the asylum petition of an Ivory Coast native and alleged genital mutilation victim who claimed she was jailed and beaten based on her ethnicity, Islamic beliefs and political ties.

Nan Marie Kone claimed to have been the victim of forced genital mutilation when she was 8 years old.

Two "old ladies" and her grandmother allegedly pinned her down and cut her genitalia, including her clitoris, "with an old and dirty knife."

"The pain was so unbearable that I passed out," she testified. "I was bleeding heavily. There was no anesthesia to calm the pain."

Her grandmother allegedly put boiled herbs on the wound to stop the bleeding. "I felt my private parts burning every time I urinated," Kone said.

She said she continues to suffer with "painful and disorganized periods" and a "very painful pregnancy and delivery," and fears her daughters would face the same fate if her family gets deported to the Ivory Coast.

She also claims to have been persecuted for her participation in the political opposition group Rally of the Republicans (RDR). She was allegedly thrown in jail for 10 days, "during which time she was beaten daily, denied drinking water and required to walk naked in front of the guards, one of whom attempted to rape her," the ruling states.

Kone said the guards threatened to catch and kill her if she continued to support the RDR.

She also claimed that her father was killed at a mosque stormed by armed supporters of the Ivory Coast's president, and that the government bombed Dioula towns in 2004, killing more than 250 people.

Kone is both a Muslim and a Dioula, the country's second-largest ethnic group.

The 2nd Circuit in Manhattan ruled that the Board of Immigration Appeals "doubly erred" in affirming the immigration judge's refusal to grant Kone U.S. asylum.

"First, the agency inappropriately rebutted the presumption of future persecution to which Kone was entitled based solely on Kone's voluntary return trips to her native country," Judge Gerald Lynch wrote.

"Second, even if the burden were on Kone to prove a likelihood of future persecution, the agency's adverse credibility determination on this point is corrupted by reliance upon an erroneous factual finding and the failure to adequately consider the relevant circumstances."

The court granted Kone's petition for review, noting that her case can be treated as a bid for humanitarian asylum, which doesn't require proof of a well-founded fear of future persecution.

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