Outrage from staff as expert employed by Bristol Uni is denied a visa for her six-year-old

Furious colleagues have called it ‘an act of unthinkable cruelty’ to prevent her daughter from joining her

Dr Doseline Kiguru was offered a permanent position at Bristol University earlier this year, but her six-year-old daughter has been denied a UK visa to join her.

She has been working in the UK as a research associate on a £1.3m EU-funded project on literary activism in Africa since 2021. She was overjoyed to learn she would be moving to Bristol permanently and began the process of moving her 6-year-old daughter across the world, The Guardian has reported.

Kiguru returned to Kenya in July of this year to begin the visa application process, and even enrolled her daughter in a Bristol primary school and purchased the uniform.

The typical visa application process takes 15 working days, but it wasn’t until November that she discovered that the visa had been rejected in early October, leaving her with only one week left to appeal.

The Home Office said it saw “no compassionate grounds” for which to approve the visa. The rejection letter, which was addressed to her child, said, “It was your mother’s personal decision to depart for the UK.”

Kiguru’s husband, also an academic, cannot look after their child as he has to travel for his research but hopes to move to the UK too.

As a result, their daughter is left confused in Kenya without permission to live with her mother who has full-time custody of her; “Of course, a child doesn’t understand these [visa] complexities.

She thinks I left her.” Kiguru said she was left feeling “devastated” by this “horrific” decision and could not bear “to think about how alone and isolated [her daughter] is feeling” back in Kenya.

The University of Bristol English department also took to social media to condemn the ruling, saying they were “horrified” that such a “brilliant” and “dedicated” colleague had been denied the visa.

They wrote that the Doctor received the Vilakazi Prize in 2016 for new scholars in African Studies, as well as her impressive record of journals that she has been published in, including African Studies and Social Dynamics.

An anonymous colleague of Kiguru’s said “They imply Doseline chose to leave her daughter. The hostility of that reasoning, which can only come from a place of racism and misogyny, took my breath away.”

Other colleagues also commented on the “outrageous” and “disgusting” treatment of the “world-leading scholar”.

One professor in African and comparative literature, Madhu Krishnan, said: “The decision to separate a young child from her mother under such spurious grounds is an act of unthinkable cruelty, of which we have sadly become familiar in recent years.”

A University of Bristol spokesperson said: “Dr Kiguru is a much-valued member of our academic community, and we are offering her advice and support during this difficult time.

“We will be providing the Home Office with testimonials regarding her academic excellence and her important contributions to our research and education in the hope the situation can be resolved, and her daughter will be able to join her here in Bristol soon.”

Kiguru has started a GoFundMe page to help cover her legal fees.

Featured image credit: Bristol University

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