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.

 

 

 

Anti-sexist credibility?

Response to Leader of the House of Lords and Minister for Women, Baroness Margaret Jay's article published in The Journal, Issue 142, June 25

MALIKA THOMPSON, Black Women's Rape Action Project
LISA LONGSTAFF, Women Against Rape

MINISTER for women Baroness Jay asked Journal readers about "problems ethnic minority women face" for the Women's Unit research, 'Listening To Women', which is due to report in the autumn ('A Call To All Women', June 25). She claims Government priorities include "all forms of violence against women" and "women and families". For over two years, we have given evidence about rape to Baroness Jay, the previous Minister for Women, the Women's Unit and the Home Office, including Jack Straw. But black and immigrant women's demands have repeatedly been ignored, or even turned against us.

While an estimated 50 per cent of women seeking asylum have been raped, the Government does not recognise rape as persecution and therefore grounds for asylum. Rape survivors are held in detention without time limit or a channel of appeal, even before an initial decision is made on their asylum claim. The majority of women held in detention are black.

The Immigration and Asylum Bill denies women and children financial support and protection, encouraging more disbelief, hostility and discrimination from officials, thus compounding victims' trauma. To deflect criticism, Jay promotes the Immigration Minister Mike O'Brien, who is "looking into forced marriages" as if this will make up for this devastating legislation - police powers for immigration officers, food vouchers and segregated housing, among other measures, which increase isolation and therefore incite racist attacks against all black and immigrant people. Despite being told about the Bill's implications for women, only one Labour woman MP voted against.

We also objected to questioning women about their sexual history in rape trials, including at 'Listening To Women' roadshow meetings. But the Government overruled our objections to the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Bill put by Labour women MPs. It will continue to allow questioning about who else the victim ever slept with where the rapist claims he believed she consented, however unreasonable his belief.

When women MPs asked that at least children should be protected from questioning about unconnected sexual abuse, Minister Paul Boateng responded, ". . .a child's previous sexual behaviour, which may be non-consensual, may be relevant to a defence case . . ."

Following a 163 per cent increase in reporting, the Home Office suggests downgrading rape by men the women know.
Yet over three-quarters of reported rapes are by such men - husbands, fathers, boyfriends, dates.
It is not only on the subject of rape that the Government fails to listen.

This week's Observer reported that women attending the 'Listening To Women' roadshow complained that "mothers who want to stay at home to look after their children are not valued by labour". Will the 101 women MPs and the Minister for Women insist on representing women and children, or will they allow themselves to be used to give sexist and racist policies anti-sexist credibility?

Tags: