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 May 2014

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

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

VICTORIES!
Rape survivor from DRC wins second appeal and Refugee Status
image001.jpgimage001.jpgimage001.jpgBelinda B first met us when we spoke in Belfast during Refugee Week 2008. Her asylum claim had been refused and closed without consideration of the horrific gang rape by soldiers she suffered in the Democratic Republic of Congo. She was made destitute and came to London for help. Encouraged by other women in the self-help group which we help co-ordinate, she was able to report her experiences for the first time. Her fresh claim was refused but our own and other expert evidence forced the Home Office (HO) to allow her an appeal. The judge dismissed Ms B’s account and her appeal, ignoring WAR’s evidence that the difficulties she had in speaking about rape earlier should not be used to disbelieve her. Her lawyer said nothing more could be done.

A new lawyer appealed to the Upper Tribunal which ruled that the judge had flouted court guidelines on the treatment of vulnerable witnesses by failing to take into account the difficulties survivors face in reporting rape. Ms B’s case was reheard and in October she won full refugee status! 

Lesbian woman from Uganda continues to fight official disbelief
Linda N fled to the UK after she suffered rape and other persecution because of her sexuality. Instead of getting protection and help to recover she was disbelieved and taken into detention twice. Since a Supreme Court ruling that gay people cannot be refused asylum on the grounds that they could keep their sexuality secret and therefore be “safely” sent back to their country of origin, UKBA has changed tactic – now it routinely disbelieves that someone is gay regardless of the evidence. As a result, some lgbtq people have felt compelled to include photos of them having sex in their asylum applications. 

A public campaign resulted in Ms N's release and her asylum case re-opened. She is now waiting for a High Court hearing and sends thanks to all our supporters who wrote to support her. The day after getting out, she was back with us and on the phone helping others still inside. 

Ms N says: “This time I went back into Yarl’s Wood it was different because no-one had helped me understand my case before. Before I just did what my lawyer said. This time I could discuss with him what we needed to do. I knew how to fight and was able to tell other women what they could do.” 

Verna Joseph: mother and child win damages for separation
image002.jpgAfter almost two years of legal battling, Ms Joseph and her daughter won substantial damages for the trauma and distress of being separated shortly after the birth. Whilst still breastfeeding, the baby was put into care for six days. Ms Joseph had first contacted BWRAP from Yarl’s Wood IRC in December 2009, and was one of the leaders of the 2010 hunger strikers. An outspoken campaigner for her own and other rape survivors’ rights, we continue to support her as she fights for family reunion with her remaining children, whom she was forced to leave behind in St Lucia when she fled persecution. 

Domestic violence victim from Bolivia wins protection and a permanent home
Petula P won an important ruling that because of the years of horrific domestic violence inflicted by her ex-husband, being sent back to Bolivia would be “cruel and degrading treatment”. WAR helped Ms P’s lawyer overturn a decision to refuse legal aid for a psychiatric report. This proved to be essential. Irrespective of any protection she might be able to get in Bolivia, the judge found that as Ms P was so suicidal and terrified of her ex-husband that her life was at risk if sent back. Other traumatised victims of domestic violence have been able to use the ruling to demonstrate to lawyers that their cases are not “hopeless” and should be pursued. 

image003.jpgIn August last year Ms P and her family were told that because of the benefit cap their weekly income for the whole family would be cut to £60 a week because the rest -- £440 – was going to a private landlord. If they moved they would have been separated from friends, schools and their support network. WAR wrote to the council, got a councillor to help, and Ms P successfully bid for a council flat. Last Christmas was the first they spent together in safety “at home”.

Ugandan lesbian wins asylum in Ireland
Sarah N contacted us from Yarl's Wood Immigration Removal Centre just as she was about to be sent back to Ireland, where she had initially claimed asylum. She had fled from Uganda after being targeted and raped because of her sexuality. Supporters from Movement for Justice had stopped one flight at the airport. But “third country cases” where someone originally arrived or claimed asylum in another country deemed to be “safe” are difficult to win. Ms N was sent back to Ireland where she was frightened that she would quickly be sent back to Uganda because her asylum claim had already been refused there. We contacted a lawyer we have worked with for many years who helped her make a fresh claim and happily Ms N won asylum in August last year. 

Indian woman wins protection from domestic violence
Mary M suffered years of domestic violence and was forced by her violent partner into domestic service in Kuwait, where she was regularly beaten and was denied any wages. The HO accepted her account but claimed she could get state protection from this violence if she was sent back to India. With our help Ms M showed that the HO had ignored its own expert country information documenting how domestic violence victims cannot get protection from the authorities. Ms M won refugee status in the UK. 

But meanwhile Ms M got the distressing news that her elderly parents had run out of money to feed and care for her children, who Ms M had been forced to leave behind in India. We raised some money among our pool of dedicated volunteers to provide some immediate help. 

Ms M is entitled to bring her children to live with her but legal aid for such applications has been cut. Her lawyer helped her “pro bono” but the children’s visas were refused because they had no passports. In previous cases, this has been shown to be unlawful but now Ms M has no lawyer to challenge this. Fortunately her member of parliament has intervened and Ms M hopes that this time they will be allowed to join her in the UK!

UKBA accept rape survivor was trafficked but deny that she suffers from its impact, and so is not a victim! 
image004.jpgMargaret Nambi was detained a day after submitting a fresh claim for asylum including new information about being a victim of trafficking and rape. She was released after the Home Office received many letters from supporters protesting about her treatment.

In August last year her trafficking case was rejected. UKBA claimed that evidence provided by WAR about the impact of rape on Ms Nambi showed she was not traumatised as a result of trafficking. Ms Nambi is challenging this.

Legal aid cuts take their toll
The fortnightly self-help sessions, jointly co-ordinated with Legal Action for Women (LAW), are now regularly attended by over 60 women. Over half the women are destitute because their asylum claims are closed, invariably as a result of poor or no legal representation. Many are victims of torture and have grounds to make an asylum claim, but rightly fear they will be put straight into detention where they will be denied legal and other help, and unjustly returned to the violence they fled. 

Many women are pursuing Article 8 family/private life cases. But legal aid has been cut for these cases. Helping women apply for legal aid because of “exceptional circumstances” has doubled the amount and complexity of work needed on cases. To date none of their applications have succeeded. We are a planning a protest about this which you will hear more about shortly! Donations, volunteering or any other offers of help would be very gratefully received! Please contact us if you can assist. 

image005.jpgLegal Action for Women’s updated “Self-Help Guide for Asylum Seekers and their Supporters”
The experience and expertise gleaned by our dedicated volunteers over the past eight years was a vital contribution to this self-help Guide particularly in relation to the many issues faced by rape survivors and other traumatised people.

The Guide has transformed the case work at the fortnightly self-help groups and in the week-day work sessions which take calls from women in detention. It has led to a new level of self-help which is vital and timely following the legal aid cuts. In November last year we participated in a national gathering on self-help using the Guide, aimed at bringing together asylum seekers and supporters determined to press for the right to protection from persecution. For copies of the Guide please contact: law@allwomencount.net

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