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.

 

 

 

Launch of: Misjudging rape - Breaching Gender Guidelines and International Law in Asylum Appeals

Event

Start and End Dates

Location

at Garden Court Chambers 57-60 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London WC2 Nearest tube: Holborn

Entry price

A Dossier of how adjudicators (now known as immigration judges)
flout international law and even their own guidelines when they consider the asylum claims of women and girls seeking safety and protection from rape.
 

LaunchDoss128web.JPGLeft to right:
*Anver Jeevanjee, Member Asylum & Immigration Appeals Tribunal 1983-2004
*Sian Evans, Women Against Rape
*Cristel Amiss, Black Women’s Rape Action Project
*Ian Macdonald QC, speaking (and hosting the meeting)
*Jovanka Savic, Sutovic Hartigan Solicitors
*Sarah Kajumba, All African Women’s Group
Also speaking
*Louise Hooper, barrister, Garden Court Chambers

In the UK, where at least 50% of women seeking asylum are victims of sexual violence[1], rape survivors face many obstacles in demonstrating how their claims for asylum relate to the Refugee Convention and why they should therefore be granted protection. The Asylum Gender Guidelines, published in 2000 by Immigration Appellate Authority (now the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal) are one of few official tools laying out how women’s claims should be treated at appeals. The Guidelines aim to: ”ensure that the procedures used do not prejudice women asylum seekers or make it more difficult for them to present their asylum claims.”

Yet when Black Women’s Rape Action Project (BWRAP) and Women Against Rape (WAR) analysed over 60 adjudicators’ rulings they found that:

Few Adjudicators even referred to the Guidelines:

*Women raped by soldiers were told the rape they suffered was "simple dreadful lust" and therefore not persecution.
*Rape survivors told that it would be safe for them to return to their country of origin and live thousands of miles away from their homes.
*Women who did not report immediately accused of reporting in order to "enhance a fabricated asylum claim."
*The testimony of "a pretty young woman" dismissed as not credible because she did not report rape in her country of origin.
*A woman detained under the fast track system told that three days was "ample time" to find a lawyer and her case dismissed because it was "riddled with discrepancies."
*In identikit rulings, two women were told by the same judge: "Rape is a horrific crime which should not be utilised lightly merely to bolster an asylum claim."
*Where the Guidelines were adhered to women reported feeling that they had a fairer hearing.

Background

Hundreds of women come to BWRAP and WAR having been turned down, not because they don’t have compelling evidence of rape and other torture but because hostility, discrimination, disbelief, bullying and indifference meant they never had the chance to speak about what they suffered OR because legal aid cuts mean they were left with poor (or even no) legal representation and no expert or corroborative evidence was gathered to support their claim. This is especially true for cases assessed under the fast-track.[2]

Ensuring justice for women at Tribunal hearings is essential because, as appeal rights have been eroded, it is usually the last chance for a woman to describe why she was forced to flee. If adjudicators get their decisions wrong, vulnerable and traumatised women, children and men are sent back to face further rape and even death. Demanding adherence to the Guidelines and legal accountability from adjudicators, who frequently make arbitrary and unjust decisions, is therefore crucial to rape survivors getting protection and justice.

At a time when research into gender and asylum is proliferating but practical help and assistance continues to be scarce, this Dossier breaks new ground. By publicizing the Guidelines and therefore what women should be entitled to, it helps inform women about their rights and what can be done when preparing an appeal.

[1] Legal Action for Women (Dec 2005) found that 70% of women detained in Yarl’s Wood Removal Centre had been victims of rape or other sexual violence.

[2] Where those who claim asylum are detained from when they enter the UK on the basis that their case is “straightforward” and capable of being decided quickly.

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