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.

 

 

 

THIS FAMILY MUST BE REUNITED

Many of you will know Maureen, one of our very dedicated volunteers and will have followed her long struggle to win the right to stay in the UK and be reunited with her three children. Maureen was forced to leave Burundi in 2003 after she and her family, who are Hutu, were targeted by Tutsi authorities. Her husband was kidnapped, and both he and her eldest son disappeared and her brother was murdered in front of her. Maureen had sent her surviving children to a safe place but lost contact with them when she was forced to flee and suffered for a number of years not knowing if they were alive or dead. After she won her asylum claim, she dedicated herself to finding them and to everyone’s great delight they were discovered living with a relative of a family friend.

Shockingly, what has followed is a year and a half of yet another deliberately torturous process of trying to bring the children to the UK to join their mother. Their visa applications have just been refused. Maureen’s children are now 12, 15 and 17 and have had to endure six years without the love and protection of their mother. Maureen is one of many women suffering the pain of separation and a founder of the Mothers’ Campaign for Family Reunion. Maureen writes below.

I need your help again. I am devastated that my children have been refused permission to join me and their sister in the UK. When I got indefinite leave to remain it was under the Legacy programme (rather than full refugee status which I should have got years ago) so I have no automatic right to family reunion. Earlier this year I applied for entry clearance visas for my children to join me in U.K. At the end of September these were refused. It seems the UKBA Visa Section (in Ethiopia) had not even read their applications because they did not address the compassionate case I was making, for the children to join me 'outside the immigration rules'.

My lawyer has made submissions asking for reconsideration of the refusals, and we are appealing to the Asylum & Immigration Tribunal. But that might take many months to be heard, and the very kind woman who has been looking after the children is now suffering ill-health and is unable to keep them. I have been sending whatever money I can save from my benefits to pay for their support and schooling in Uganda, but the terrible separation we are enduring is horrendous”.
Please write urgently to the UKBA Visa Section and to the Home Secretary Alan Johnson MP urging them to reconsider and issue the children with visas immediately.
I know that there are many demands on your time but I would be so grateful if you could help.
Thank you so much in advance. Maureen Mahoro

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The reference numbers for the children are ADD/106562; ADD106563; ADD1206559.

PLEASE WRITE TO:
UKBA Visa Section ADABAVisaInfo@fco.gov.uk
Home Secretary Rt Hon Alan Johnson MP, johnsona@parliament.uk and public.enquiries@homeoffice.gsi.gove.uk
Send copies to Women Against Rape war@womenagainstrape.net and to my MP Jeremy Corbyn corbynj@parliament.uk

Background

Many of you may be familiar with my story but in case you aren’t I tell some of it here. In November 2007, I won the right to stay after four long years of fighting even to get my asylum case heard. My four children were lost in Burundi where I was forced to leave them when I fled for my life after being imprisoned, raped and tortured.

Any spare penny that I had since coming to the UK was spent looking for my children. When I won the right to stay I renewed my efforts. I found a reliable man who has some experience in detective work who was ready to search. In July 2008, he located three of them in Uganda. They had been sent there for safety by the family friend I left them with. I was over the moon but I kept thinking that I was dreaming. I would wake up to check if it was really true! All the time I kept thinking that I will be told that it was a bad joke being played on me.

At first, contact with my children was very difficult. I spent a few harrowing days waiting for confirmation that the children who had been found were really my kids. Extraordinarily, they had changed their names and kept their identity secret because of fear that they would be targeted too. They were deeply traumatised by being separated from me for so long. For all those years they hadn’t known if I was alive or dead. It has been hard to re-establish the relationship after all this time. I tried to explain why I had to leave and deal with their fury at being abandoned. I understood as I also blamed myself all the time. I was devastated but I kept on. My oldest carried the burden of caring for the others; my girl has become a teenager without my guidance, love and support; my youngest was crushed by my disappearance. All who know my children agree that they are lovely, brave, extraordinary children. I am desperate to be reunited with them so we can begin the process of bonding again.
 

 

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