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.

 

 

 

Yarl's Wood

Neisha Hemmings, speaking at the House of Commons, 14 January, 2010

Resource

transcripts.jpgI was in Yarl’s Wood for five months and came out in December 2009. I seek asylum from Jamaica cause I am a lesbian, and in my tribunal case, my partner came and she gave evidence and everything. I’ve given all my letters of support, all my evidence, and in my determination I was told that they didn’t believe that I was a lesbian, but the judge believed my partner (laughter). I have been refused. In the determination, they refused me ‘cause, what happens is that when the judge decided my first case – every other judge is going on that same decision.

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Can You Hear us? Michelle, 14 January 2010

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image045.pngI’ve lived in the UK for almost nine years now.  I’ve got my indefinite to remain in this country.  I was sentenced to two years in prison for shop lifting which I did because I had to support my children and also because my husband is very abusive to me.  I have two children that were born in this country, one of which is six years, however I was still served with a deportation order while I was in prison.  And I was detained for eight and a half months in Yarl’s Wood.   My children were put with a family friend and were being supervised by social services.

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We are here because . . .

Resource

We are here because . . .

. . .  is an inspiring and moving collection of online video and other testimonies, filmed, recorded, edited and produced by Black/women of colour, who are service users and volunteers with Black Women’s Rape Action Project. The testimonies are the product of an invaluable process whereby women from different backgrounds worked together, developed technical skills, and learnt from each other.

The majority are members of the All African Women’s Group a self-help group of women asylum seekers.  Most are mothers, some have been in detention, many have been separated from their children.  All give deeply compelling and often painful accounts of what they have been, and still go through, to get protection and rebuild their lives.

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Yarl's Wood Hunger Striker released after a year!

In the Media

STOP PRESS! Denise McNeil was released from prison today!

Below is an important article from the Observer about Denise McNeil, one of the hunger strikers, who has been held in Holloway Prison since February last year (BWRAP is quoted).

The Free the Yarl's Wood 3! have organised a campaign planning meeting, 6pm-7.30pm, Fri 28 January, at Fin Future, 225-229 Seven Sisters Road, Finsbury Park, London, N4 2DA – more information [freedenisenow@gmail.com].

Yarl's Wood mother jailed without charge for a year to 'silence' her

Denise McNeil has now spent a year in Holloway prison without charge following the end of the hunger strike at Yarl's Wood detention centre

Mark Townsend
The Observer, Sunday 16 January 2011

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URGENT ACTION: End the Detention of Familes

Dear friends,

Over 80 people attended the House of Commons meeting Women’s Hunger Strike – Louder than Words (29 June 2010) which succeeded in making public how women seeking asylum are spearheading the movement against the injustice of the asylum system (and other injustices), and in gathering support for these efforts. We will be publishing a report shortly.

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We must end the detention of families

In the Media

The Guardian, Tuesday 18 May 2010  Letters

"We will end the detention of children for immigration purposes," says the new coalition government (Asylum children will be kept out of 'distressing' detention centres, 14 May). But what about their mothers?

Paediatricians and psychologists have testified to the mental and physical harm caused to children by detention. But separating them from their mother or primary carer is even worse; it may cause "insecurity, depression and anxiety" which lasts throughout life.

The recent six-week hunger strike by women in Yarl's Wood removal centre brought to public attention that many women detained inside are mothers whose children were taken by social services or other family members. Some face deportation and permanent separation, often after years of raising a family in the UK.

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First person: 'I was illegally deported from Britain'

In the Media
Photo of Mary

Mary, 40 Interview by Cheryl Gallagher, The Independent Saturday, 17 April 2010

Mary says: 'The immigration escorts dragged us to the plane. They were pulling my hair and my braids fell out'

In the run-up to the 2001 elections in my country in East Africa, I was campaigning for an opposition group when some government soldiers kidnapped me in front of my children. I was raped and tortured and they starved me. After about a month, one of the soldiers accidentally left the door open and I escaped. I decided that I had to leave the country with my children.

After we had been in England for a few years, we were woken up at 5am by a loud bang at the door. A man shouted: "Open up! Immigration." We'd had no warning we were going to be deported. We were caged in the back of a van like prisoners and they wouldn't let me take my medication for depression.

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UPDATE 20 March 2010: YARL’S WOOD HUNGER STRIKE

Hunger strike suspended

On Friday 19 March, most of the women who have been refusing food, suspended their hunger strike in order to avoid permanent damage to their health. Women have vowed to resume the strike if the authorities don’t investigate their complaints about indefinite detention, appalling conditions and arbitrary removals - see women’s statement. A legal challenge had to be mounted by Leigh Day solicitors to force the Yarl’s Wood authorities to carry out “medical risk assessments to ascertain the specific risk of refeeding syndrome and follow Dept. of Health Guidelines on refeeding.” Medical Justice is pursuing this. No appropriate food has been provided and, last night, two women were sick.

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Letter in the Observer: "The sorrow in Yarl's Wood"

Letters

The Observer
Sunday 21 March 2010

The sorrow in Yarl's Wood

Your editorial ("We punish those we should protect") gave a rare accurate picture of the inhumane asylum process. It came just as mothers suspend their six-week hunger strike in Yarl's Wood removal centre. Women have vowed to resume the strike if the authorities don't investigate their complaints about indefinite detention, appalling conditions and arbitrary removals.

Callous disregard for women's lives has characterised the authorities' response so far. Three have attempted suicide by drinking bleach and other toxic substances, hanging themselves or by slitting their wrists.

After the latest suicide attempt, Serco, the private company which runs Yarl's Wood, said: "We have no concerns."

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URGENT: WOMEN SUSPEND HUNGER STRIKE in YARL'S WOOD

We have just received the email below announcing the suspension of the hunger strike by women in Yarl's Wood pending a response from UKBA and SERCO to their legitimate demands. Several women have reported being very ill as a result of over five weeks without food. Nevertheless they are determined to press for justice.

Please circulate widely and support the demands of women who have so bravely challenged the authorities and exposed the injustice of detaining children, mothers and other vulnerable women, the appalling conditions in detention including racist abuse and other violence, the brutal response to their peaceful protest and the inhumanity of sending women back to possible persecution, rape and other torture.
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