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 December 2014

Some victories over the last year and . . . how you can help us win more in the year ahead!

 Ms K and her son reunited after 11-year separation!

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Tears of joy when Ms K’s son came to the first self-help meeting in January.

Ms K fled from Rwanda after her family was attacked during the genocide.  She was granted a limited right to remain in the UK (instead of full Refugee Status) which meant she had no automatic right to bring her children to live with her. When the visa application for her youngest son failed, volunteers from the All African Women’s Group (AAWG) worked round the clock so that a new application could be submitted just days before he turned 18 – a crucial deadline because over 18-year-olds have no right to join their parents in the UK.  WAR wrote in support documenting the rape Ms K had suffered in Kigali but had been too traumatised to speak about before.  In a remarkable turnaround her son was granted a visa.  As Ms K said: “No matter what lawyers tell you about giving up, there is hope if you keep fighting.”

Two lesbian women from Uganda win refugee status

Ms M was raped in the UK by a man pretending to offer help.

Ms M was beaten by family members when they discovered she was in a lesbian relationship at school.  Having fled to the UK to escape, she didn’t know she could claim asylum based on her sexuality.  Destitute, she had no alternative but to accept an offer of accommodation from a man in her church but he repeatedly beat and raped her.  When Ms M found a job, he threatened to report her to the Home Office (HO) unless she paid all her wages into his bank account.  The Salvation Army referred Ms M to the HO as a victim of trafficking.  But the information they took down from her on the phone had serious discrepancies, e.g. a missionary who came to her rescue was described as a “mercenary”!  BWRAP documented how these problems were caused by language and having to disclose traumatic experiences in a phone call to someone Ms M had never met.  This headed off any attempt by the HO to use discrepancies to claim Ms M was lying and in July 2014 she was granted full refugee status.

Ms F suffered repeated “corrective rape” in Uganda when her sexuality became known by her family and the community.

In April, a dozen witnesses, including BWRAP and Queer Strike, packed a tiny court to provide evidence to corroborate Ms F’s sexuality during a gruelling five hour hearing. Disbelieving LGBTQ people and making them go to enormous lengths to prove their sexuality has become even more common since a Supreme Court ruling prevented the Home Office (HO) from refusing asylum claims on the grounds that people would be safe if only they would just keep their sexuality secret.  At a second hearing in September Ms F’s partner gave evidence about their relationship.  In October, the couple received the fantastic news that Ms F had won her appeal, able at last to look forward to the future together with their daughter.

 

Protesting against government hypocrisy at the Global Summit against Sexual Violence in Conflict

Rape Survivors Protest at the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict

In June, BWRAP and WAR’s protests at the Global Summit against Sexual Violence in Conflict exposed how the UK, whilst claiming to care about victims of war-zone rape, routinely refuses victims claiming asylum from the Democratic Republic of Congo and other war-torn countries.  Two protesters, Noela Claye and Lyly Bukolo, who had suffered rape and been refused asylum, were interviewed with Sian Evans from Women Against Rape on Radio 5 Live (part 1 & part 2).

Victim of rape & trafficking wins full refugee status

Orphaned and brought from Nigeria to the UK by relatives promising to look after her, Ms A was kept as a servant and forced to look after the house and children. When, with assistance, she managed to escape, BWRAP helped her record her experiences as a victim of “trafficking” but her application was rejected by the Home Office.  It was only after months of attending the self-help group that she was able to speak about the rape she suffered as a child.  BWRAP’s submission for the appeal ensured that the difficulties Ms A had in recounting these traumatic experiences were not used against her.  Ms A was able to rely on the support of other members of the All African Women’s Group at a hearing to decide whether she would be considered a victim of trafficking. Her appeal was allowed and was followed by a second hearing on human rights grounds.   The Judge was so struck by the dangers Ms A faced that, in June, she was granted full refugee status – very unusual for anyone from Nigeria.

NOELA CLAYE – still fighting for her papers!

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          June 2014: Ms Claye reports winning her appeal at the
All African Women's Group meeting
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The many people who have supported Noela Claye will know that she won her appeal last year.  The judge heard from a witness from WAR and decided she was telling the truth about suffering gang rape during the civil war in Sierra Leone, despite the bullying tactics of the Home Office (HO) Presenting Officer who accused her of lying.  But the Home Office appealed against this decision on a technicality, even though it now accepted she was a rape victim!  Over forty people protested to the Home Secretary but the HO pursued its appeal.  Ms Claye needed a lawyer but since the cuts in April 2013 there is no legal aid for Article 8 Human Rights cases.  Instead she had to apply for “Exceptional Case Funding” (ECF) which is meant to be available to people unable to represent themselves because of trauma, ill-health, disability, etc. and/or because of the legal complexity of their case.  Like many people Ms Claye was rejected because, without a lawyer, she could not document the “merits” of her case (even though she had previously won an appeal).  So you apply for legal aid because you need a lawyer but you need a lawyer to apply!

To everyone’s delight and surprise, a judge at a procedural hearing in May declared that the HO had no grounds to challenge the earlier decision and that she should be allowed to stay in the UK.  But rather than accept this, the HO ordered Ms Claye to start “signing” at their office in Croydon, outrageously misinforming a member of parliament (MP) that judges had decided her case should be “reconsidered”.   WAR forwarded to the MP the judges’ rulings so he could see this was not true and so that he would pursue it.  Ms Claye’s case is a prime example of the HO’s determined hostility to rape survivors. She has only prevailed because she refused to give up and had the support of WAR. We will let people know if more help is needed!

Victim detained in the Fast Track released & wins Court of Appeal hearing

Ms G was the victim of repeated rape by a pastor and an uncle whilst growing up in Cameroon, and then of very serious and sustained domestic violence, including rape, by her partner in the UK.  Despite the complexity of her case Ms G was put in the Detained Fast Track in Yarl’s Wood IRC (where cases are decided within days).  Without a lawyer, Ms G called for help and Legal Action for Women sent her their Self-Help Guide.  One of WAR’s dedicated volunteers then helped document her case and explain some of the discrepancies that were being used to discredit her. WAR raised that guidelines on how vulnerable witnesses should be treated, had been breached. This became the basis of Ms G’s appeal, kindly drafted for free by a supportive barrister. The Court of Appeal agreed that previous judgements had ignored these guidelines and in August Ms G was released.

BWRAP has already used this fantastic victory to get Tribunal rulings in two other cases set aside.  Ms G’s hearing in the Court of Appeal is due in the Spring of 2015 and will consider what duty the Tribunal has to adhere to all its “Joint Presidential Guidelines”, not only those relating to vulnerable witnesses.  These include guidelines for bail and appeal hearings of people who are unrepresented.  Please contact us if you think this might be useful for your own or someone else’s case.

For copies of the Self-Help Guide please go here.


How you can help

As you can see from our news, women are even more desperately in need of our help, particularly as a result of the legal aid cuts.  Most our case work is done by volunteers.  The self-help sessions are regularly attended by over 60 women, over half of whom are destitute.  The majority are mothers.  We pay for fares of up to £10 for any woman wanting to attend.  No-one is turned away but it will be an even harder struggle to manage in 2015, as we face the New Year with even less income.

Donations, volunteers or any other offers of help would be very gratefully received!  Please contact us if you can assist.

Black Women’s Rape Action Project (BWRAP) & Women Against Rape (WAR)

THERE’S STILL TIME TO DONATE TO LEGAL ACTION FOR WOMEN’S CHRISTMAS APPEAL FOR DESTITUTE WOMEN IN THE ALL AFRICAN WOMEN’S GROUP!  Click here for how to contribute

 

 

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