Sima Valand due to be forcibly removed from the UK today (Fri 8th)

// 8 May 2009

** Update: Sima Valand survived this attempt at deportation, but is now subject to a second threat (as of May 19th) – please see here**

We received this from Nimda at Women in London… time is of the essence so I’m posting it directly …

Sima Valand due to be forcibly removed from the UK on Friday 8th May 2009

Sima arrived in the UK, from India, legally in 2006 with her husband. During the 15 years of their marriage Sima was subjected to frequent verbal, physical and sexual abuse by her husband. Following their arrival in the UK, the violence escalated. It culminated in a horrific rape in May 2008. The attack was so severe that Sima made the decision to report it to the police.

While her husband was on bail, the threat to Sima was sufficient to force her to move to Nottingham for her safety. She was subjected to frequent death threats from the husband’s family in the UK and in India because she was pursuing the court case. In spite of this, Sima continued with the case and her husband was eventually convicted and given a lengthy prison sentence.

As a result of the persecution, Sima applied for asylum on the grounds that she had a genuine fear of being killed by her husband or his family if she were returned to India. Before she left India, she had been treated as a slave and beaten by her husband’s family. Their treatment of her was so bad that she attempted suicide. The husband’s jail sentence and the fact that she has begun divorce proceedings have only exacerbated their malice towards her. Her in-laws have contacted her on frequent occasions to tell her that they will cut her up and kill her if she returns to India.

India has a deeply entrenched patriarchal system and women are expected to conform to a strict social code. As a result, although it is Sima’s husband who has been responsible for appallingly violent behaviour, it is Sima’s action in reporting that behaviour and giving evidence against him that is considered shameful amongst her family and the community as a whole.

It is extremely common in India that incidents of serious domestic violence against women are not taken seriously. The police and courts are often unwilling to intervene in such matters. Amnesty International have noted that it is very difficult for women to seek justice through the criminal justice system in India and that women victims of crime are at a severe disadvantage. This means that it is highly unlikely that Sima will get the protection that she needs should she be returned.

Sima was born and brought up in Sudan although she is of Indian origin and has an Indian passport. She has few family members in India and following the court case, these ties have deteriorated. The Home Office have argued that Sima could live with her uncle if she is returned to India. However, the details of the rape case have become widely known and he will no longer speak to her.

Sima’s in-laws in India are aware of Sima’s movements and since being detained on Tuesday, Sima has received threatening messages stating that they know she is about to be removed from the UK and that they will track her down.

In addition, Sima has been diagnosed with and was being treated for deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Her treatment for this has been disrupted by being put in detention and putting her on a long-haul flight would be extremely dangerous to her health.

Please E-mail/fax attached model letter to:

CEO Steve Ridgeway

Virgin Atlantic Airways

Manor Royal

Crawley

West Sussex

RH10 9NU

Fax: 01293 444124

Email: customer.services@fly.virgin.com

Comments From You

Jules // Posted 8 May 2009 at 5:47 pm

There’s no standard letter, so here’s mine:

I’m writing to urge Virgin Airways to refuse to carry Sima Valand, due

to be deported tonight. Ms

Valand has received death threats from her family members in India

after reporting rape and domestic abuse from her husband, and has

nowhere to go in India where she could be safe from them. In addition

she suffers from deep vein thrombosis, a condition that would be

exacerbated by a long haul flight. This woman arrived in the country

legally, her only “crime” was to leave an abusinve husband and report

her treatment to the police. Please show some compassion and refuse

to transport her to face the very real possibility of death.

Lynne Miles // Posted 8 May 2009 at 5:59 pm

And here’s mine …

Dear Mr Ridgeway

I’m writing to ask Virgin Airways to refuse to fly Sima Valand, who is due to be deported tonight.

This woman has been the victim of rape and domestic abuse at the hands of her husband and his family, and managed to find the courage to report him and see the case through to prosecution (not easy anywhere, but particularly not in India which does not have a good reputation for taking these cases seriously).

Having gone through all that and having started divorce proceedings against her jailed and abusive husband, she is now on the receiving end of death threats from his family (who treated her as a slave and beat her). She fled to the UK but has had her application for asylum refused. Her husband’s family have learned of this news, and have contacted her in the UK saying they know where she lives, and they will find her and kill her when she returns. Her only family in India is currently refusing to speak to her. She has nowhere to go on her return.

On top of all that, she’s in the middle of treatment in the UK for deep vein thrombosis, which is not only going to be disrupted by her deportation, but could easily be exacerbated by the flight.

Ths woman has committed no crime, and she faces a very real threat if deported. Whilst you cannot change the Home Office decision, you can refuse to carry her on your flight. Please show some compassion, and some moral conviction and refuse to be party to this disgraceful deportation. If nothing else, then on medical grounds – surely her doctor can’t be happy for her to fly?

With respectful thanks

Lynne Miles

Mary // Posted 8 May 2009 at 6:17 pm

Sent.

That is outrageous. I really hope they refuse to let her fly.

TheBritkid // Posted 8 May 2009 at 6:29 pm

Sent. Let’s hope we make it.

Isa // Posted 8 May 2009 at 6:36 pm

I have also sent a mail asking Virgin to not let Sima Valand board the flight tonight. I am shocked that she has been treated in this way. Does anyone know who else to write to in order to protest against her deportation?

sparks // Posted 8 May 2009 at 6:43 pm

I’ve also sent an email.

TheBritkid // Posted 8 May 2009 at 6:43 pm

Is it worth somebody ringing up Virgin’s head office? Just in case customer support have clocked off for the day?

Anna // Posted 8 May 2009 at 6:54 pm

Emailed.

Alex T // Posted 8 May 2009 at 7:09 pm

Done. Fingers crossed.

Anti-deportation campaigner // Posted 8 May 2009 at 7:11 pm

I’m really glad that you’re publicising this and think that gathering the support of fellow feminists for women asylum seekers is a hugely positive thing.

However, I’m a bit concerned that the full details of the flight are being made public as it is possible that the husband’s family will use these to track her down. Please can you remove the flight number and destination as soon as possible?

Lynne Miles // Posted 8 May 2009 at 7:13 pm

You’re totally right I’m so sorry. I’ve taken them down now, also edited the two comments with model letters to remove.

Legible Susan // Posted 8 May 2009 at 7:26 pm

I’ve sent an email. Even if Virgin refuse to intervene, maybe the aircrew will – crews have been known to refuse to take off with deportees aboard, and there’s also the medical issue.

TheBritkid // Posted 8 May 2009 at 7:31 pm

Got an autoreply from Virgin. I can’t call right now, but it does include this:

“If your enquiry is of an urgent nature or you are travelling within the next 72 hours, please call […]

Inside the UK 08701 909 090

Outside the UK +44 8701 909090”

And I should think it is kind of urgent. Is anyone in a position to get on it?

Shea // Posted 8 May 2009 at 8:30 pm

Sent- I hope she stays in the UK.

Rachelle // Posted 8 May 2009 at 8:58 pm

Sent.

having worked as an intern for an MP who works incredibly hard on asylum cases, things like this make me SO ANGRY. The letters that the UK asylum seeker department send us are utterly, utterly farsical in their bull-headed stupidity.

Karen // Posted 8 May 2009 at 10:14 pm

Just sent them one, don’t know the flight time (fair enough for the reasons listed above) hope that someone takes some notice of us and in time!

Anti-deportation campaigner // Posted 8 May 2009 at 10:29 pm

Thanks very much for amending the post and the related comments.

It makes me SO happy to report that Sima was not put on that flight!! Thanks to everyone who took the time to take action for Sima.

Unfortunately she is still detained in an immigration detention centre and still needs to make a case against future deportation.

Please look out for further call-outs for support. We’re trying to make sure that details get passed through various women’s networks so hopefully news will get through.

Lynne Miles // Posted 8 May 2009 at 10:30 pm

That’s really amazing news. Thanks for letting us know.

Karen // Posted 8 May 2009 at 10:34 pm

WooHoo! Surely the case is obvious, we ned a major attitude change with immigration issues in this country to protect the obviously vulnerable like this lady. I wish her every bit of luck with her case.

Isa // Posted 9 May 2009 at 1:30 pm

Fantastic news!!! Agree with Karen, things really do have to change. It seems to me that the asylum system discriminates against women who are vulnerable and need help. It beggars belief that anybody would think it’s acceptable to deport Sima Valand.

Samantha // Posted 11 May 2009 at 5:08 pm

I’ve only just caught up with this story today; it is great news that Sima Valand wasn’t deported. Has anyone written to the Home Office about this situation?

SIMA VALAND // Posted 8 August 2009 at 3:35 pm

IM SIMA VALAND . IM SO UPSET BECAUSE HOME OFFICE GIVE ME A FLIGHT TICKET ON 11TH OF AUGUST 2009. PLEASE SAVE ME HERE IF I GO BACK INDIA MY IN LAWS KILL ME OR MYBE SOMEONE ELSE.I DIDN’T GET JUSTICE.I PREFER TO KILL MY SELF HERE NOT TO MURDER IN INDIA. I HAVE GOT NO FUTURE IN INDIA .IM SAVE IN THIS COUNTRY I WANT TO LIVE MY LIFE FREELY

Karen // Posted 8 August 2009 at 9:54 pm

Oh no. Sima, if you are reading this, I will write to the plane company as protest,please stay strong, f word, can we do anything? If there is anything, please let me know direct to my e-mail to save time and I will write a letter, e-mail whatever. Good luck Sima, we are right behind you.

sima valand // Posted 7 November 2009 at 12:21 pm

Dear ,frends please help me iam in sudan i wont to came back uk give me sponcer letter thank u

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