Citation: 2020 RLLR 57
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: February 24, 2020
Panel: Deborah Coyne
Counsel for the Claimant(s): Denis Onek Olwedo
RPD Number: TB8-17416
ATIP Number: A-2021-00655
ATIP Pages: 000189-000193
 MEMBER: These are the reasons in decision, for decision in the claim of [XXX] who claims to be a citizen of Kenya and is claiming refugee protection pursuant to Sections 96 and 97(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. The claimant fears persecution due to her gender and her membership in a particular social group, as a woman facing risk of female genital mut-, mutilation and gender violence.
 The Panel applied the Chairperson’s Guideline 4 Women Refugee Claimants Fearing Gender-Related Persecution in assessing the harm feared by the claimant.
 In her written and oral testimony, the claimant provided a very detailed account of entering into a forced marriage, enduring serious domestic violence, resisting her husband’s insistence that she undergo FGM and ultimately escaping from him and the va-, vigilantes he hired to ensure she complied but not before she was raped and violently assaulted. The police were of no assistance on at least three occasions when she approached them for help. Ultimately, she was able to obtain a TRV and came to Canada seeking refugee protection at the Port of Entry.
 The Panel finds that the claimant is a member of, of a particular social group which is women at risk of gender violence and is therefore a Convention refugee under Section 96.
 The Panel was satisfied on a balance of probabilities that the claimant is a citizen of Kenya from the certified copy of her passport on the file.
 The claimant responded to all questions clearly and spontaneously in the English language. The Panel finds the claimant to be a credible witness. And her evidence was corroborated by and is consistent with the documents she submitted that the Panel finds credible. Notably, medical reports, statement of suppor-, statements of support and some photographs.
 The Panel makes the following findings on a balance of probabilities. The claimant was born into the Kisii tribe in Kenya in which FGM is still practiced in young girls and women along with other traditional customs. For example, after her father died, his brother inherited the claimant’s mother as his wife. Her mother was forced to marry her brother-in-law who then insisted that her mother undergo FGM.
 The claimant successfully pursued studies and became [XXX] and her step-father found a way to send her to study [XXX] at the [XXX] from 2008 to 2012. When she returned to Kenya, she started working at the [XXX]. In or about 2013 and 2014, she discovered to her horror that her step-father had promised her in marriage to a man who had secretly funded her university studies in the Philippines.
 A summary of the next traumatizing fours years are set out in persuasive detail in the claimant’s written narrative. The claimant was forced into the marriage in [XXX] 2015, raped brutally by her husband and ordered to undergo FGM. Shortly after the marriage, she reported her spousal rapes and violence to the Nakuru Central Police Station at the suggestion of her doctor. The police mocked her and said that alleging spousal rape was a waste of their time. The FGM was scheduled for [XXX] 2015. The claimant escaped from her husband and the vigilantes he hired to ensure that she underwent FGM. She moved around and worked in different places. For example, Nairobi, Nakuru and then Kibera where she stayed with her aunt. The claimant went to the police again in or about [XXX] 2016 when she was forced to return to her husband but managed to escape again. They told her that resisting FGM was a family matter but that she should go to the Anti-FGM Organization. The claimant went to get help from the Anti-FGM Organization but had to find money to hire a lawyer.
 Among other things, she lived undercover by wearing a burqa in [XXX], about [XXX] kilometres away from Nairobi. In [XXX] 2017, while she was recuperating from an [XXX] she was discovered by the vigilantes, raped and seriously injured. She went to the police. A detailed copy of the report is found in Exhibit 5. And there was also other documents such as the [XXX] dated [XXX] 20th, 2017 and so forth. After this ordeal, she was advised by her friend [XXX] who had witnessed the attack on her by the vigilantes to leave the country and she applied for her T-, TRV. She falsiv-, she falsified the existence of a common-law husband and a child and some other documents to ensure that she was accepted. I also note that there were corroborative affidavits for most of the incidents from her friend [XXX], her aunt [XXX], her mother, [XXX] and another childhood friend. All of these are in Exhibit 5.
 So, on a balance of probabilities the Panel accepts that the claimant has a subjective fear of persecution because of her membership in a personal social group, women at risk of gender violence.
 So, now I’m going to turn to the objective basis. The claimant testified that the traditional practice of FGM is rooted in Kenyan culture and the Kisii tribe. The United States Department of States, State report called the DOS report for 2018 on Kenyan human rights notes that human right issues in the country including the lack of accountability in many cases involving violence against women including rape and FGM.
 Authorities cited domestic violence as a leading cause of preventable and non-accidental death for women during the year. Except in cases of death, police officers generally refrain from investigating domestic violence which they consider a private matter. With specific reference to FGM, the DOS report indicates and this is in, oh this is in still in 2.1, the law makes it illegal to practice FGM, procure the services of someone who practices FGM or send a person out of the country to undergo the procedure. The law also makes it illegal to make derogatory remarks about a woman who has not undergone FGM.
 Government officials often participated in public awareness programs to prevent the pra-, the practice. Nevertheless, individuals practiced FGM widely particularly in some rural areas. According to a study by ActionAid Kenya published in October despite the legal prohibition on FGM, mis-supported the practice-, supporting the practice remain deep-rooted in some local cultures. The study concluded approximately 21% of adult woman have undergone-, had undergone the procedure some time in their lives. But the practice was heavily concentrated in a minority of communities.
 The DOS report further states that there were also reports the practice of FGM increasingly occurred underground to avoid prosecution. The May 2018 report entitled Kenya and the Law of FGM which is Exhibit 5.10 states as follows FGM in Kenya continues to be carried out predominantly by traditional circumcizers for 74.9% of girls age 0 to 14. And 83.3% of women aged 15 to 49. There has been some concern over the increasing medicalization of FGM in Kenya. In recent years however, with claims that its risen to as much as 40 per-, 41% in some areas. And that medical professions-, professionals are performing FGM in homes, hospitals or temporary clinics.
 According to the UK Home Office and this is exhibit or, sorry Item 1.4 of the NDP for Kenya, women and girls in Kenya in fear of FGM forma particular social group within the meaning of the refugee Convention. And it further reports that although it is against the law and in decline, FGM continues to be practiced in Kenya among most ethnic groups to varying extents. The report indicates that communities that practice FGM report a variety of social and religious reasons for continuing with it. Deeply-rooted customs linked to social and economic benefits are associated with FGM.
 The agents of persecution in Kenya are the claimant’s husband and his extended family and the vigilantes he hired to pursue the claimant. As noted above, the claimant approached the police with complaints and requested help on at least three occasions and was turned away. An extensive report entitled FGM in Kenya, this is Item 5.3 it’s dated 2016 so it’s actually longer than a sequel to it which is, was done in 2018. However, it, it finds that “While there has been progress in both legal and policy frameworks, implementation and enforcement remain a challenge largely due to a lack of resources, difficulties reaching remote rural areas and the limited capacity of law enforcement agencies”.
 This is enforcing the Anti-FGM legislation and, and policies that are technically in place. The report further finds that there have been few prosecutions and low conviction rates across the country. Often even if survivors do report FGM they fail to attend court to give evidence. Finally, the report finds that intimidation and fear help to keep the practice secret and cases unreported.
 Item 2.3 which is the 2018 Freedom of the World report for Kenya indicates that corruption continues to plague national and county governments in Kenya. And State institutions tasked with combating cor-, corruption have been ineffective. Item 2.5 which is the 2017-2018 Amnesty International report indicates that the authorities continue to use legal and administrative measures to restrict the activities of civil society organizations working on human rights and governance.
 And finally, according to the 2019 Human Rights report which is Item 2.2, women are also vulner-, vulnerable to abuse from the State security forces that should be there to protect them. The Watch report, the Human Rights Watch reports further indicates that the Jack of accountability for serious human right violations perpetrated by security forces remains a major concern in 2018.
 So, the Panel finds on a balance of probabilities and in the particular circumstances of this case, that the objective country evidence supports the conclusion that the Kisii tribe and the Kenyan government and security forces are too often complicit in the gender violence experienced by the claimant. The claimant has provided clear and convincing evidence that the State is unable or unwilling to protect her. Accordingly, the claimant has successfully rebutted the presumption of state protection.
Internal Flight Alternative
 The claimant testified that she would be at risk in all regions within Kenya. And that her husband and his vigilantes might have the means and motivation to seek her out wherever she might live and work. The evidence that the Panel found credible indicated that her husband was able to find her on several occasions as she sought to escape him after their marriage. The Panel finds that relocation within Kenya would be unreasonable in the claimant’ s circumstances. And the Panel further finds that there is no viable IFA where the claimant could reside safely.
 So, in conclusion the Panel finds that the claimant is a member of a personal, particular social group which is women at risk of gender violence. And is therefore, a Convention refugee.
———- REASONS CONCLUDED ———-