Sexual Justice?

20 05 2008

Every once in a while, you go through a phase of being completely uninspired to write. There is nothing ‘meaty’ to grab your attention in the news, and with the football season (at least The Championship, for my team) long over, a sense of lingustic apathy can overwhelm even the most ardent writers.

So it was for me. Until I saw this story, hiding away amongst the furore surrounding the 24-week abortion vote, the US elections and various natural disasters. I will be honest, the story threw me slightly. I wasn’t sure what to make of it. Yes, it is a good thing that this man has been granted asylum given what he would have to face otherwise. Yes, the punishments for homosexuality in Iran are irrational, and downright wrong. No, I’m not happy.

Perhaps I’m oversimplifying things here, and if so bear with me. This man, who studied English at university in London, was granted asylum in Britain because to be sent home would have meant his death. Clear so far? Now I don’t want to go on about this but something is slightly off to me. Ama Sumani, who you may remember was sent home to Ghana, despite the drugs and equipment needed to keep her alive being scarce in her home country. She was effectively sent home to die. She had been in Britain on a student visa too.

Now I accept that the causes of death would have been different (one a terminal illness, the other a noose cunningly placed around ones neck), but beyond that I am stuggling to see how different these cases are. Apart from one count. That of the man’s sexuality. That is obviously what has saved this man, and was likely to be a mitigating factor considered when granting him his asylum. What of Ama’s mitigating circumstances, like the point she could not afford care to keep her alive in her home country? They were dismissed, she was packed off home. To die.

I just wish consistancy would play some part in making these decisions. Case-by-case is all very well and good, but there needs to be some marker, some level that those deciding who stays and who goes must work to. If, as in both these cases likelihood of death is deemed to be, let’s say, ‘high’, then the authorities need to either rule with an iron fist, and send them both off home to suffer the consequences; or they allow them to stay. At the moment (as with the current edition of the offside rule- which, you can be certain will be revised again before the European Championships start in a month or so) no-one is really clear on what is needed to grant asylum, and different people are working to different standards. Or so it seems.





The Consequence of the Wrong Action…

21 03 2008

This will be brief, and to the point. I have mentioned on here and on the Strawberry why I think deporting Ama Sumani may have been the wrong call. I stand by that. At least though, the British officials’ mistake was short lived.

Ms Sumani died on Wednesday.

She died just hours after being told that people had found her doctors to treat her condition. She is survived by two children, aged 16 and 7.

I am hopeful that the case of Ama Sumani will highlight some things about our systems in what, if you believe things, is meant to be the ‘democratic west’.

Rest In Peace Ama.





So now I understand…

29 02 2008

Midlands Today this lunchtime reported with great enthusiasm the case of a teenage boy from Ghana who had been brought to Britain along with his father to have a life saving operation.

The boy, who needed a new kidney has had it donated by his father following a conference in his native Ghana. At this conference Felix Yeboah stood up in front of hundreds and made an impassioned plea for help. The British doctors who were at the meeting took pity on Felix following his ‘brave and inspiring’ speech at this conference and hastily arranged for him to be brought to Birmingham’s very own University Hospital to have this operation.

Which is great for everyone connected to Felix, and I’m delighted for everyone connected with him and his family.

Yet I can’t help feeling a bit flat by it all. My mind quickly wanders back to Ama Sumani, of whom I blogged earlier on this year. Sumani, who was already in Britain, was deported back to Ghana when her visa expired. She had treatable cancer, and was recieving dialysis in Cardiff before officials stepped in. Now back in Ghana she has, or will shortly become, just another statistic. Just another death.

Britain’s Border and Immigration Agency deported her because there was the facilities to treat her in Ghana. This article says more about the whole case, trying to work out who should feel the guilt.

I’m left wondering that if there is the facilities to treat a woman of cancer in Ghana, surely there must be the facilities to carry out a kidney transplant too? Or is this too much of an assumption- I’m willing to be corrected.

For me there is one simple difference. Felix is a fresh faced young boy, full of enthusiasm (he talks of becoming a doctor and playing football), Ama is a 39 year old woman, full of fear but, apparently not as much promise as Felix. At least that’s how it appears to me. Is this how the world should be? As Midlands Today so rightly pointed out, kidney disease is a big concern in Ghana, and were it not for this conference Felix would almost certainly have died within the next couple of months. I am not quite sure how the doctors justify saving one young boy over any of the hundreds and hundreds of others who need similar operations. I’m not quite sure how they can have the right to decide that one person is worth more than another simply because the former has the gumption to speak publically about his plight.

There are but two options then. Firstly is the harsh, but fair way of not bringing anybody over. This way means that everybody still suffers, but no-one has had to make a decision on who should live and who perhaps shouldn’t.

The second way is to save one person every six months (or however long it will be until the next story of a similar nature breaks). At least then there has been some action taken, and someone has been saved.

For me, I think I fall into the first camp. I couldn’t justify picking any one person to live, and by definition, hundreds of others to die, simply because that is not my right. Explaining why one person is more important than any other is not something I can actually do, especially when I know my decision will be a death sentence for the others. I don’t believe in God, and therefore cannot work out who should have that right, if anyone at all; but I do know that for me personally, I wouldn’t be comfortable with making the call.