Navigating FGM Asylum Interviews: A Survivor’s Guide to Seeking Protection in the USA

For survivors of female genital mutilation (FGM), the asylum process in the United States can be a daunting and emotionally challenging experience. However, with proper preparation and understanding of the interview process, you can increase your chances of securing protection and starting a new life free from the threat of this devastating practice.

Understanding FGM and Its Consequences

FGM, also known as female circumcision or cutting, is a harmful traditional practice that involves the partial or total removal of external female genitalia for non-medical reasons. It is a form of gender-based violence and a violation of human rights, with severe physical, psychological, and emotional consequences.

The physical consequences of FGM can include:

  • Severe pain and bleeding
  • Difficulties in urinating and menstruating
  • Increased risk of childbirth complications and newborn deaths
  • Increased risk of HIV transmission and other infections

Psychologically and emotionally, FGM survivors often experience:

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Low self-esteem and feelings of shame and humiliation

FGM is recognized as a form of persecution and a basis for asylum claims in the United States. However, substantiating your claim can be challenging, and the interview process can be emotionally taxing.

Preparing for the Asylum Interview

To strengthen your asylum claim based on FGM, consider the following steps:

  1. Gather Documentation: Collect any available documentation related to your FGM experience, such as medical records, affidavits from family members or community members, and country condition reports that corroborate the prevalence of FGM in your home country.

  2. Seek Counseling: The trauma associated with FGM can make it difficult to discuss your experience openly. Consider seeking counseling or support from organizations specializing in FGM survivors’ care. This can help you process the trauma and better articulate your experience during the interview.

  3. Understand the Process: Familiarize yourself with the asylum interview process, the types of questions you may be asked, and the expectations of the interviewer. This can help alleviate anxiety and ensure you provide consistent and credible testimony.

  4. Practice: Rehearse your testimony with your legal representative or a trusted friend or family member. This can help you feel more comfortable discussing sensitive topics and ensure your account is clear and coherent.

Common FGM Asylum Interview Questions

During the asylum interview, you may be asked questions related to the following aspects of your FGM experience:

  • Details of the FGM procedure, including when, where, and how it was performed
  • Physical and psychological consequences you have experienced as a result of FGM
  • Cultural or religious beliefs surrounding FGM in your community
  • Whether you fear being subjected to FGM again or having a daughter subjected to FGM
  • Efforts you have made to seek protection from FGM in your home country

It’s essential to be truthful, consistent, and as detailed as possible in your responses. The interviewer will evaluate the credibility of your testimony and the reasonableness of your fear of future harm.

Addressing Sensitive Topics

Discussing FGM can be emotionally challenging and may trigger traumatic memories. Remember that you have the right to take breaks during the interview if you feel overwhelmed. Additionally, you may request to have a same-gender interviewer and interpreter to help you feel more comfortable.

If you have difficulty discussing certain aspects of your experience due to cultural or personal sensitivities, explain this to the interviewer. They should be understanding and sensitive to your situation.

After the Interview

Following the asylum interview, the asylum officer will evaluate your case and make a determination. If your claim is approved, you will be granted asylum status, allowing you to remain in the United States legally and eventually apply for permanent residency.

If your claim is denied, you may have the option to appeal the decision or seek alternative forms of relief, such as withholding of removal or protection under the Convention Against Torture. Consult with your legal representative to explore your options.

Remember, the asylum process can be complex and challenging, but with patience, preparation, and support, you can navigate it successfully. Seeking protection from FGM is a courageous step towards a life free from violence and oppression.

How to Answer Questions at Your Asylum Interview


Can I cry in asylum interview?

It is okay to feel nervous during your asylum interview. It can be very hard and emotional to talk about your past and your fears. It is okay if you cry during the interview. You can ask the officer for a break if you need one.

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *