23-year-old Priyanka Thapa, originally from Nepal but seeking asylum in Iceland, now faces the possibility of being sent back to her home country where a forced marriage awaits her.
“I burst into tears when I heard the news,” she told Vísir in part. “I am terrified of going back home.” In her native Nepal, she has been betrothed against her will to a man about twice her age, in order to rescue her family from poverty.
Thapa has been working as a nanny for a family of eight children here in Iceland, and is also attending university. “My life is simply over if I go back home,” she said. “An old man and miserable circumstances await me there – in reality, it’s simply slavery.”
The Directorate of Immigration has rejected Thapa’s application for asylum on the grounds that she does not meet the requirements. In part, this is due to a letter from her brother encouraging her to accept the marriage, as to deny it will make matters worse for her family. Because her brother has “requested” Thapa to come home, the directorate reasoned, she is not actually compelled to get married and has the choice to deny it in her homeland.
A Facebook group supporting Thapa’s case, which encourages authorities to grant her asylum, has already attracted over 3,000 supporters.