Afghan teenager wins right to stay

A 14-year-old school girl threatened with deportation to Afghanistan is to be allowed to stay in the Netherlands, immigration minister Gerd Leers said on Friday.

Sahar Hbrahim Gel and her family have lived in the Netherlands for 10 years. The appeal court decided in February that Sahar should be allowed to stay in the Netherlands because
she was too westernised to settle back in to Afghan society.
Leers appealed against that decision, saying the ruling – based on the fact the girl was westernised – was of fundamental importance to Dutch immigration law.

Situation facing girls

Before reaching his decision, the minister had asked for a review of the situation facing women and girls in Afghanistan, especially those who want to go to university.
A civil service briefing said westernised women and girls in Afghanistan undergo great mental pressure.
‘Girls who have lived a long time abroad and then return to Afghanisan stand out in the street,’ the report said. ‘Even if they change their appearance, by wearing a headscarf, they are still seen as foreign by the way they behave (talking before being asked a question, saying what they think and talking loudly),’ the document said.
The minister said some 400 Afghan girls have been in a similar situation to Sahar. Of those 110 are still in involved in the appeal situation and 40 to 50 will be allowed to stay in the Netherlands, the minister said.
In his reasoning, Leer said the ages of 10 to 18 are crucial in terms of westernisation. If they have lived in the Netherlands for at least eight years, they cannot be sent back, Leers said. This does not apply if the family has deliberately frustrated the deportation process, the minister is quoted as saying.

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