(The Korea Herald) – The Supreme Court has ruled in favor of a 15-year-old girl from Liberia seeking asylum for fear of facing circumcision if sent back to her homeland, saying the practice amounts to an act of persecution.
The girl, whose identity was withheld, entered South Korea in March 2012 with her mother and sought asylum. But the government denied the request, saying they are unlikely to face persecution even if sent back to the African country.
The girl filed a lawsuit against the decision, arguing that she could be forced to undergo circumcision. Both a district and an appeals court ruled against her, saying circumcision is a crime perpetrated privately and she could expect protection from the government as the country’s political situation is stable.
The highest court, however, struck down the ruling and sent the case back to the Seoul High Court, saying circumcision constitutes an act of persecution and the lower court didn’t look sufficiently into whether Liberia is making enough efforts to eradicate the practice.
“Circumcision, which inflicts an injury on a key part of a woman’s body, is an act that is performed not for medical but for traditional, cultural and religious reasons. It is an act that comes with extreme pain and infringes upon human dignity, and thus amounts to persecution,” the court said.