Seven feet tall Muslim Pakistani woman claims asylum in UK on her height
22 Oct 2006
UK: october 21, 2006. A 7ft 2ins Pakistani woman is to live in Britain on benefits after claiming asylum because she is `too tall` to return home.
Zainab Bibi, 33, claims she faces constant persecution and ridicule in her own country over her height. She has lodged an asylum claim with the Home Office and has already been granted a two-year visa to remain in the UK.
Miss Bibi, who in 2003 held the title of tallest woman in the world, plans to live off benefits and take advantage of free NHS healthcare.
Last night critics branded the immigration system a `laughing stock` and called for tougher restrictions on asylum applications.
Philip Davies, Conservative MP for Shipley, said: "It shows what a soft touch people think we are. You couldn`t believe someone could think this was a good enough reason to stay."
He said: "Anyone thinks they can get in. Will we start getting applications from people because they are too short, fat or thin? When the two years are up, even if she is refused asylum, I`d like to bet she`ll slip off the radar and remain here anyway."
Miss Bibi lodged her application for asylum claiming she was repeatedly attacked in her home town near Faisalabad, Pakistan. She said youths in her home town of Toba Tek Singh threw stones and rocks at her and often pulled at her clothing.
Miss Bibi says one man hit her with a stick breaking her wrist and now she is too afraid to return to her home country for fear of further attacks.
The 7ft 2in woman has used her enormous height to earn money in the past making dozens of public appearances both in her own country and abroad. Earlier this year she was hired by American ice cream giant Baskin-Robbins to undertake special promotional work in Britain.
She spent 15 days handing out ice creams on behalf of the company but claims she is unable to work full-time because she suffers from diabetes.
Miss Bibi said a major appeal of living in Britain is that she can receive free NHS treatment instead of paying for costing private care in Pakistan.
After flying in from Pakistan, she clamed asylum in June and was given a council flat in Stockport, Greater Manchester, where she pays no rent or council tax and receives Â£40 a week in benefits.
Speaking through an interpreter, she said: "I like it very much in Britain. You are kind here. People smile at me and I have no problem.
"At home people pick on me because I am so tall. I am afraid there. I have diabetes and I can get treatment for free here, unlike Pakistan where it is more expensive."
She said: "Because of my diabetes I do not plan to work but any money I can make will be sent back home to my mother and six sisters. I hope I can stay but I am waiting to hear."
Mr Davies MP said: "Questions also need to be asked about how this lady managed to get two years here so easily when she appears to have worked for only 15 days." Last night a Home Office source said: "There are people coming into this country from war-torn countries where they face very real physical danger and even death every single day of the week.
"These are obviously very deserving asylum cases but we look at each case on its merits before making a final decision."
A spokesman for the Home Office said: "We do not comment on individual cases."
Miss Bibi`s case is likely to heard next year and until a final decision she is eligible to remain in the UK on her two-year visa.