This is the joint website of  Women Against Rape and Black Women's Rape Action Project. Both organisations are based on self-help and provide support, legal information and advocacy. We campaign for justice and protection for all women and girls, including asylum seekers, who have suffered sexual, domestic and/or racist violence.

WAR was founded in 1976. It has won changes in the law, such as making rape in marriage a crime, set legal precedents and achieved compensation for many women. BWRAP was founded in 1991. It focuses on getting justice for women of colour, bringing out the particular discrimination they face. It has prevented the deportation of many rape survivors. Both organisations are multiracial.

 

 

 

Asylum From Rape Bulletin October/November 2006

Bulletin

Our Asylum from Rape Project provides self-help support services to rape survivors seeking asylum. We offer help and referrals, welcome volunteers and provide guidance to organisations on how to meet women’s needs.

New publication: Misjudging Rape - A Dossier of how adjudicators (now known as immigration judges) flout international law and even their own guidelines when they consider the asylum claims of women and girls seeking safety and protection from rape. Compiled by Black Women’s Rape Action Project (BWRAP) & Women Against Rape (WAR).

Launch: 6.30pm, Tuesday 5 Dec 06 Hosted by Ian Macdonald QC at Garden Court Chambers, 57-60 Lincoln ’s Inn Fields, London WC2.

Victories!

Ms P, a rape survivor, who was detained on the fast-track[1]* in Yarl’s Wood Removal Centre in contravention of HO and UNHCR guidelines which specify that torture victims and other people should not be detained, has been released. Ms P is from Togo and was detained and raped because of her political activities opposing the government during the 2005 election. Yet she was detained for several months on arrival in the UK. WAR’s report for the courts documented how her ill-treatment in detention compounded the trauma Ms P suffered, and the Home Office was forced to concede that she was unlawfully detained. She was released and will be eligible for substantial damages.

Ms C, a spokeswoman for Ugandan women seeking asylum who went on hunger strike in Yarl’s Wood over the summer of 2005, has won full refugee status. Over 30 women took part in the hunger strike protesting against their threatened removal to Uganda and the conditions in Yarl’s Wood. Ms C publicised the strike through numerous radio and newspaper interviews, and as a result was penalised by being placed on the prison wing. She was facing imminent removal, as the Home Office claimed that her case had been “fully determined”. The removal was cancelled only after we intervened. Ms C was released from detention in August 2005 and so able to make a fresh claim for asylum with a new lawyer. Invariably such claims are initially refused by the Home Office but Ms C’s fresh claim was accepted a year later and she was granted full refugee status – so much for her case being “fully determined”! Without Ms C’s determination to speak out and our support, she would have been deported to face possible rape, other violence or even death.

Conditions in Yarl’s Wood condemned

On 4 October, the Chief Inspector of Prisons’ published her “Inquiry into the quality of healthcare at Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre” [2] which included an example of the desperate situation faced by vulnerable women in the fast track. The report highlighted the experiences of two other Ugandan rape survivors who had joined the 2005 hunger strike. WAR provided intensive support to the women on hunger strike. Ms A, one of the women, tragically, remains seriously unwell as a result of the lack of care in Yarl’s Wood. Since 2005, nearly 300 rape survivors have contacted Black Women’s Rape Action Project (BWRAP) and ourselves from detention and many continue to be left without medical or specialist care or even legal representation.

VolunteerK.jpg       VolunteerP.jpg
WAR volunteers speaking to women in Yarl's Wood Removal Centre.

Lack of legal help raised publicly with the Legal Services Commission (LSC)

On 2 October, women from the All African Women’s Group and WAR were among those who protested, at a meeting organised by Bail for Immigration Detainees, at the LSC announcement that their legal clinics in detention centres were a success and that, following more cuts to legal aid, the clinics should be the model for the only legal help available to those inside. We complained that at the clinic the lawyer has only 30 minutes to assess the merit of a case and that consequently many are unjustly denied representation and Ms D (AAWG) spoke of her experience:

“I was in the fast track and my lawyer would not help me at appeal. The clinic also told me that there was nothing they could do. Fortunately I was released (although tagged) and now have found a lawyer who is making a fresh claim for me. Why can she see I have a case when the lawyers in Yarl’s Wood said I had none?”

Rape survivor bears testimony to torture suffered on return

Ms K fled Uganda in 2001 after she was detained and raped because of her political activities. Her asylum claim was refused after her account of her experiences was dismissed. After an attempted removal in April she and her five children (aged eight months to 16) were assaulted and abused. Just a month later, in May 2006, she and her family were snatched from their home in a dawn raid and taken to Yarl’s Wood. MPs Dianne Abbot and Jeremy Corbyn were about to visit the Centre and we wanted them to hear from Ms K about the violent and possibly illegal attempted removal[3]. But shortly after the authorities were notified of which women the MPs would be seeing, Ms K was given removal directions for the following day – just one day before the visit! And even though her legal representatives won an injunction to stop their flight because no anti-malarial treatment had been given to the children[4], they and Ms K were still sent back to Uganda. The five guards enforcing the removal had turned their phones off despite, or perhaps because, they knew the case had gone to the High Court and they might be told to take the family off the plane. Mrs K was forced onto the plane in handcuffs while her children were carried on with their hands and feet bound. On the plane Ms K was sexually and verbally abused by the guards, handcuffed and had her head forced between her knees. She had to sit like that for almost two hours unable to even console her baby who was crying hysterically or her other children who were also distraught.

On arrival in Uganda, the whole family was destitute and homeless – without even the few possessions they had been able to pack as their luggage was not put on the plane. Less than two months later, Ms K was kidnapped by government soldiers, detained and tortured. She only managed to escape when the boot of the car she was bundled into was left unlocked and unguarded after it was involved in an accident. A friend paid her fare to the UK but because she was fleeing from certain death, she was forced to leave her children with a friend. She arrived back in the UK in August, still covered with raw scars from the torture she suffered. Ms K has made a fresh claim for asylum and, to her great delight, her 2½ year old son has just rejoined her. She remains desperately worried about her other children.

“After we were sent back, Women Against Rape kept in touch with me, to see what help they could find for us in Uganda and were working with my lawyer to try to get us brought back to the UK. Now I am so worried about my children. They have been forced into begging and my 16 year old daughter is working as a prostitute to support them.”

We are fundraising for the fare to bring Ms K’s other children to the UK. If you would like to help, please send cheques to: Women Against Rape at the address below and specify that it is for this purpose.
Some unbelievably good news – Ms K and her children reunited

Ms K’s situation and that of other women returned to Uganda was graphically described in “End of All Hope”, (The Guardian, 23 August). This article has been used as significant new evidence in claims made by a number of other women facing deportation to Uganda.

Our Rights and Information Sheet for Survivors of Rape Seeking Asylum was launched in June and informs women of their rights, for example at Home Office interviews or in Appeal hearings, and advice about what to expect from the legal process. Also available as a PDF.

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