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.

 

 

 

Safe at last: Rape victim is granted asylum

In the Media

A REFUGEE living in Camden Town is celebrating after being granted asylum seven years after coming to the UK to escape persecution in Rwanda.

Hampstead and Highgate Express, Stella.jpg22 November 2007, Tan Parsons

Stella Mpaka has finally been granted indefinite leave to remain in the country by the Home Office.

She said: "I have been in limbo for seven years and I still can't quite believe it.

"I have passed through hell to be where I am now. All I am feeling is the pain - I am so exhausted. I feel like I've had these years stolen from me and now this is a fresh start - I've gone back to zero."

The 33-year-old fled Rwanda in the wake of the genocide in 1994 after her father was imprisoned. But the men she had to depend on to make the journey raped her.

She said: "I knew that if I didn't leave I would be killed. I have a brother, a mother and a father who are all still there but I don't know where they are at the moment or what has happened to them."

The mother of a three-year-old daughter has lived in fear of being returned to Rwanda ever since arriving in the UK in October 2000.

She continued: "It has been especially hard with my little girl. I had to wait for four years after I applied for asylum before I was even granted an interview.

"I've spent so much energy and time looking for support and accommodation and being turned away from every corner."

Ms Mpaka's struggle to stay in the UK suffered setbacks during the asylum seeking process - partly because she could not speak any of Rwanda's main languages.

Her first lawyer failed to prepare a report showing that her native tongue of Swahili is spoken in the country and her case was thrown out. She was told her case was hopeless because her credibility had been destroyed.

She said: "So many of us are accused of being liars on the flimsiest excuses. It makes you lose all confidence and from that point your chances are destroyed."

But volunteering at the Crossroads Women's Centre in Kentish Town Road was a turning point for Ms Mpaka. She talked of her experiences in Rwanda to the Woman Against Rape group and gradually regained self belief.

She said: "I cannot describe how much Crossroads has helped me. The main thing they have done is give me my confidence back and made me feel like a human being again."

She continued to fight her case on appeal and this month received the good news from her lawyer.

Woman Against Rape volunteer Sian Evans said: "We are delighted Stella has won her case at last but it's shocking how long people like her are left to wait with their children in such terrible circumstances."

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