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Woman and kids arrive at Gatwick after escaping 'extreme' religious sect where punishment for leaving is death

MyLondon 18/08/2022 Hannah Cottrell
The woman and her family fled from the sect which is 'controlled by elders' and members have 'little freedom' (stock photo) © Getty Images The woman and her family fled from the sect which is 'controlled by elders' and members have 'little freedom' (stock photo)

An asylum seeker who flew to the UK after fleeing from an "extreme" religious sect where the punishment for leaving is death, is embroiled in High Court litigation. A judge based in the Family Division of the High Court in London has been asked to make decisions relating to the care of the woman’s children.

Mrs Justice Judd has outlined detail of the case in a ruling published online following private hearings – and described it as “complex” and “utterly tragic”. The judge indicated that a council in England had responsibilities for care of children involved and had asked her to consider the case.

She said nothing could be reported which might identify the woman, who is living at a secret location, or children – and she has not named the council involved. The judge said the woman, her husband and children claimed asylum after arriving at Gatwick.

READ MORE: Syrian refugee parents of seriously ill daughter, 6, battle at High Court over life support treatment

She said the family fled from a “religious sect” but gave no clue as to where in the world the sect was based. Mrs Justice Judd described the sect as “extreme” and said she was told that if members tried to leave and were discovered, the “punishment was death”.

“This is no fanciful threat, for the parties know of individuals who have been murdered in this way,” said the judge in her ruling. “In setting out these matters I make it clear I am relying not only upon the evidence of the parties themselves but also upon an expert report prepared by an organisation with knowledge of the sect.”

She added: “Individuals in the sect are controlled by elders, and have little freedom. Men and women have no choice as to who they will marry, and girls are married very young. Girls are forced to undergo genital mutilation under the age of 10. Women are completely subjugated to men and, according to (the woman), they are beaten when they do not meet the expectations of their husband or family."

The judge went on: "The sect itself includes many influential and wealthy people, and men are encouraged to obtain good qualifications and jobs.”

She said the woman had left her husband, after arriving in England, and made allegations about him being violent and abusive. The judge said she had made findings of fact relating to those allegations – and concluded that the man had been abusive and violent. She indicated that she would consider issues relating to the children’s future care at a later stage.

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