By Wu Yun, National Post
Mississauga hairdresser Roohi Tabassum was supposed to be deported from the U.S. to her native Pakistan today, where she feared her estranged husband would kill her for touching men’s hair.
But the Federal Court Tuesday agreed to suspend the 44-year-old woman’s deportation order until a pre-removal appeal, which could take several months.
Ms. Tabassum was smuggled to Canada from the U.S. in 2001, and filed a failed refugee claim. She has since built a life in Mississauga, working as a hairdresser and buying a house, even as she faces deportation to Pakistan.
She submitted to the court several letters from her husband, Faisal Javed, and his relatives, who purportedly threatened to kill her once she returned to Pakistan, because she dishonoured him by touching men’s hair.
“The Federal Court was also satisfied … the immigration officer who handled her pre-removal assessment appeal didn’t properly take those letters into account,” her lawyer, Max Berger, said today.
Her husband, who fled Pakistan with her eight years ago but only made it to the United Arab Emirates, was angered when a friend spotted her in the hair salon in 2006. He also suspected she had a boyfriend, but she strongly denied it. They have separated but not yet legally divorced.
Mr. Berger said the Federal Court postponed her deportation because it was satisfied “Roohi would suffer irreparable harm if she was removed from Canada.”
He will ask the Canada Border Services Agency to reconsider Ms. Tabassum’s pre-removal assessment.
Mr. Berger told the court that 1,200 to 1,500 women were killed in 2007 from honour killings in Pakistan, citing U.S. Department of State statistics.