Friday 8 May 2009

Notice: Sima Valand

My darlings, I'll be away from the net for a few days dealing with a large and pendulous deadline. I apologise in advance for not updating this blog properly. Meanwhile, via TheFWord, please help out if you can to stop Sima Valand being forcibly removed from the UK. This is down to the wire, so please, if you get a minute, call Virgin or to send an email (the form letter is below):

Sima Valand 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, email the model letter available at IndyMedia or, if you have time, your own version of the letter, to:

Please E-mail/fax Indymedia's model letter (or if you have time, your own version of this letter) to:

CEO Steve Ridgeway
Virgin Atlantic Airways
Manor Royal
West Sussex
RH10 9NU

Fax: 01293 444124


  1. Have you looked at all the evidence? Maybe this woman is trying to stay in the country by going through this avenue. In other words is she is making it up just to stay in the country? How do you know she isn't?

  2. Do you always 'judge' people as guilty before innocent, 'justice'?

  3. There is no judgement on my part because I do not know the facts. Do you?

  4. That's interesting - I've never heard of an airline being ultimately responsible for carrying out deportations. I'm not sure it's a good idea, but it does seem to be in this case.

    Justice: you don't know the facts, but you do seem to be ready to cast doubt. "Innocent until proven guilty" includes the sentiment that someone is innocent, not just the idea. This sort claim is not usually made simply to stay in-country. The burden, in keeping with the "innocent until guilty" thing, is on the government to disprove the claim. Although the British government seems to do quite an atrocious job on this. (They seem to lean to "you're lying", and a "deep regret" when the woman's body is found.)

    In cases like this, it's probably wiser to believe the claims - after all, the proof of her claims would be her body.

    Carolyn Ann

  5. I don't think we should give a damn whether she's lying or not, and if she is I support her in doing so. People have the right to move around in search of a better life between countries just as much as within countries, and 'guilt' belongs to the bureaucracies who assault them.

  6. I agre with Carolyn Ann.
    Thankfully she hasn't been deported yet, partly due to protests I am sure. Working for Amnesty whilst at Uni I saw several cases wherein letter-writing really did help to keep vulnerable people here. Protests at airports work too.

  7. Justice has a fair point here, this could all be a pack of lies being told by a woman trying every sob story in the book to stay in country.

    BUT it is the home office that is attempting to remove her and so in that position it must carry the burden of proof in showing that she isn't at risk if she is deported and the need for her to be deported.

    Whilst i disagree with a lot of opinions on this blog, the home office has to show her case is false and she is not at risk not the other way round.

  8. Carolyn Ann
    I'm not presuming she is guilty or innocent. Indeed why should I have to presume she is innocent as you request? Why have you made up your mind without knowing the facts?

    PS Just because she has a body doesn't prove anything!

  9. Justice - if we're suspending judgement on whether a person is innocent or guilty pending further evidence, don't they deserve protection, even if by some chance it turns out the protection was not needed, until such time as evidence is available?

  10. Judith
    Absolutely ... that's why I'm not writing. I can't judge.

    But the immigration authorities must have had a collection of evidence and they have made judgement. What do you know that the Home Office doesn't?

  11. "What do you know that the Home Office doesn't?"

    How to not be bastards?

  12. I don't know anything they don't in this case, *but* having met various people the Home Office had decided to deport, and being convinced in those cases that the Home Office's decision was morally wrong, the fact that the Home Office has made this judgement does not convince me it is a good one.

  13. re. Carolynn Ann: "That's interesting - I've never heard of an airline being ultimately responsible for carrying out deportations. I'm not sure it's a good idea, but it does seem to be in this case. "

    The deportee has to be removed from the country somehow! I'd write to the Home Office *as well as* Virgin, but contacting the airline directly might well be effective. According to the link below*, French passengers refusing to sit down on a flight prevented an attempt at deportation also.

    Thanks for flagging this, Penny.


  14. "India has a deeply entrenched patriarchal system and women are expected to conform to a strict social code."

    Should we then grant asylum to the entire female population of India ?


Comments are open on this blog, but I reserve the right to delete any abusive or off-topic threads.