A Filipino asylum seeker was told by a Hong Kong High Court judge that she could find a better future for her children in either her homeland or that of her ex-husband – Pakistan – and did not need to stay in Hong Kong with them.

Court of First Instance Judge Josiah Lam gave that advice on June 12 to Virginia Caramat, a torture claimant who faces deportation with her three children, after the Immigration Department’s Torture Claim Appeals Board rejected her application for non-refoulement, sunwebhk.com reported.

Caramat told the judge that she wanted her children, a 16-year-old daughter and two sons aged 13 and 18, to grow up in Hong Kong because it is safer there than in the Philippines or in her divorced husband’s country, Pakistan.

She claimed that her elder brothers were threatening to harm her children if they returned to the Philippines because they are Muslims, adding that she is afraid that Christian Filipinos would also harm them because of their religion.

She also claimed she did not want to return to Pakistan because women were not respected in that country and she could not work there.

Caramat said she married a Pakistani named Iqbal and converted to Islam in 1997. All three children were born in Hong Kong.

The couple divorced in 2010 and Caramat came to Hong Kong alone in 2014. Her former husband turned the children over to Caramat that year and she did not see him until August last year when their younger son had a heart attack and was in a coma. He returned to Pakistan in February.

Caramat said she relied on International Social Service allowances for her and the children’s food.

She told the judge that she would do anything to protect her children from harm from Christian communities, or her elder brothers.

“No, you have also to respect other countries, as they [the children] may also have a better future in other countries. While it is hard to find a better place for your children, it is right that you instill in their minds the right concepts,” the judge said.

He said the Philippines or Pakistan could still offer the children a better future.