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.

 

 

 

PROTESTS AS SERCO AND G4S ARE QUESTIONED BY HOME AFFAIRS COMMITTEE

Tues 24 June, Grimond Room, Portcullis House

Multinationals Serco and G4S are being questioned today at 4pm by the Home Affairs Committee about their running of Immigration Detention Centres. High on the agenda must be what Keith Vaz, chair of the Committee called “shocking revelations” of rape and sexual assault in Yarl's Wood Immigration Removal Centre which is run by Serco.

Women who have been held in Yarl’s Wood, some of whom who have been victims of the abuse or witnessed it are attending the hearing to call for the Committee to hear their testimony. They and women currently in Yarl’s Wood are available for interview.

Black Women’s Rape Action Project bwrap@rapeaction.net
Women Against Rape asylumfromrape@womenagainstrape.net
Tel: 020 7482 2496

• Serco’s response to the allegations of abuse has been a determined and deliberate cover-up. The sexism and bias ran so deep that not only did Serco disbelieve what one victim said and questioned their credibility but when a female guard backed her and said she believed her, that guard was subjected to a character assassination. This was all revealed in an internal report that Serco tried to suppress and which only saw the light of day because the Observer took the company to court. It revealed that senior officers claimed that the female guard ‘required guidance to become more "objective" and to dissuade her making similar snap judgments in the future’.

• Any company that orchestrates this kind of cover-up cannot be trusted to give truthful and fulsome answers to questions from MPs on the Home Affairs Committee. MPs should have ensured that they were well armed before they invited Serco staff to give evidence and should have taken evidence from victims and witnesses first.

• Those allegations add up to a regime of institutionalised predatory sexual abuse by guards in Yarl’s Wood and include: guards taking women to the “photo suite” and other areas of the centre which are not covered by CCTV, and making them perform “sexual acts” a women being told by a healthcare worker that "she did not need medication but needed his penis" (as he assaulted her for the third time); guards demanding sex in exchange for “favours” from women desperate for help with their legal case and/or grief stricken about being separated from children; allegations that guards “deliberately pick on women with no English and no outside support” threats to deport women if they complain including one complainant who faced deportation attempts to nine different countries.

• The Committee should also have invited the former Serco senior employee who became a whistleblower and has corroborated women’s allegations. He revealed the organised nature of the abuse by guards for example, another guard told him of blind spots in the Centre, not covered by CCTV, where guards took women for sex; a guard making a woman pregnant; the targeting of certain women including “a particularly vulnerable detainee with profound psychological issues. It is understood she has since been deported” the refusal to “identify the mental health needs of individuals because that would block the system" women detainees self-harming and being left to suffer including “a woman who poured boiling water over herself and was left for hours in a state of shock and a woman who tied a ligature around her neck while she was apparently under observation.”

• BWRAP has been told by the Committee that women may be able to give evidence at a later date. We urge the Committee to ensure this happens and that Serco is then recalled.
• Any company that is prepared to go to these lengths to cover-up the abuse of vulnerable women by guards in positions of power, is not fit to run any public service. Serco’s contract to run Yarl’s Wood should be immediately terminated.
• Yarl’s Wood IRC is also irredeemably corrupted. We echo the sentiments of the Serco whistleblower in calling for it to be closed down.

Over 70% of women who contact us from Yarl's Wood are rape survivors. The government is flouting its own guidelines by detaining them.

We protested at the government's hypocrisy displayed at the recent World Summit to End Violence in Conflict, where William Hague claimed to support "courageous victims" fleeing rape in war zones, whilst rape survivors who claim asylum and protection in the UK AND victims raped in the UK are routinely disbelieved, detained or imprisoned. Rapists and other abusers working in detention centres have been allowed to operate with impunity. We issued a personal invitation to Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt to meet women in Yarl's Wood.
 

Tags: