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.

 

 

 

Yarl's Wood women remain on hunger strike

In the Media

c4-logo.gifYarl's Wood women remain on hunger strike
Channel 4 News - watch report here

Updated on 09 February 2010
By Jane Deith

A group of women being held at Yarl's Wood immigration centre are refusing food for a fifth day in protest over the length of detention and being separated from children.

Yarl's Wood immigration centre near Bedford is the UK's main removal centre for women and families. It can hold 405 people in four wings.

A hunger strike that started on Friday quickly spread. Some women, angry at being separated from their children, refused food.

It is thought most of the women are Jamaican, Nigerian and Chinese, but others joined their protest.

On Monday, day four of the hunger strike, a group of about 50 women tried to move around the centre and were locked in a corridor. The women say they were held there for hours on end without water or access to a toilet. They told campaigners some of them had fainted.

Most of the women returned to their room without staff using force. But four women were taken away by police.

They have reportedly been detained under the immigration act and are being handed over to the UK border agency.

Police have refused to confirm the nationality of the women.

Officers say this "peaceful protest" was "resolved" last night. But campaigners claim the hunger strike is not over.

One of the woman on hunger strike inside the detention centre, Debo, told Channel 4 News they were hoping the action would force the immigration authorities to look into their situation.

But she insisted the protest was peaceful: "We are not going to destroy anything, we are not going to fight".

Cristel Amiss from the Black Women's Rape Action Project, which campaigns for foreign nationals who have fled rape, say she has spoken to two women inside Yarl's Wood who are part of the group of around 20 women sticking to their hunger strike.

SERCO, which runs Yarl's Wood, says it needs to look at the lunch records to see how many detainees have refused food before it can confirm how many women remain on hunger strike.

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Mums starve for right to see kids

Tuesday 09 February 2010 by Will Stone

Barbed wire running around the outside of Yarl's Wood in Bedfordshire. Picture: indymedia.org.uk

Human rights groups have called for an "immediate investigation" into the safety of 80 women who are on a desperate hunger strike at an immigration removal centre.

Police have detained four women at Yarl's Wood in Bedfordshire under the Immigration Act but none were arrested or charged with any criminal offence.

The four were taken to Greyfriars Police Station in Bedford yesterday before being handed over to the UK Border Agency.

Around 80 women at the centre have been on hunger strike since Friday in protest over the length and conditions of their detention, which has left many mothers separated from their children.

In response some of the protesters were confined in a hallway by the centre's staff.

One 29-year-old Nigerian protester, who gave her name as Aisha, claimed they had been kept in the hallway for over six hours.

"Nobody came to see us and we didn't get to discuss our concerns. We were trying and asking but no one came to talk to us about it," she said. "They shut us in with no water and no toilet facilities."

A joint statement from Children's Society policy director Lisa Nandy and Bail for Immigration Detainees director Celia Clarke said: "We urge the UKBA to ensure the safety of all the women involved in this protest and share their concerns about the impact of separating a child from their mother."

The UKBA said staff at the centre were working to resolve the concerns raised by the women.

According to David Wood, strategic director for criminality and detention at UKBA, the demonstration "remained passive at all times and there was no use of force."

But a statement released by Women Behind the Wire at Yarl's Wood said it wanted to put an end to the forceful removal and deportation of detainees and detention for asylum-seekers and rape and torture victims.

It also called for an end to the detention of physically or mentally sick people and pregnant women for long periods, as well as demanding access to appropriate medical treatment and edible food.

Cristel Amiss, spokeswoman for Black Women's Rape Action Project which is supporting the women on hunger strike, said over 70 per cent of women in Yarl's Wood are rape survivors and many are sick and vulnerable.

She called for "an immediate investigation into what has happened and any guard found to be responsible for injuring women must be sacked immediately."

Mr Wood denied allegations of abuse. He added: "All detainees are treated with dignity and respect, with access to legal advice and health-care facilities.

"We only remove those who both the UKBA and the independent courts deem to have no legal right to be here."

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Women detained after disorder at Yarl's Wood, 9 Feb 2010
 

Four women were detained for offences under Section 51 of the Immigration Act last night following a minor disturbance at Yarl swood Immigration Detention Centre near Clapham.

They were taken to Greyfriars Police Station in Bedford at around 7.30pm. They will be handed over to the UK Border Agency later today. They have not been arrested or charged with any criminal offences.

Bedfordshire Police were called to the centre yesterday afternoon following reports of a 'minor disorder' involving a 'small' number of detainees.

Around 40 women had been on a hunger strike since Friday protesting against their detention.

By 2pm, all detainees were described as 'calm' and 'talking with staff to address their concerns'.

David Wood, Strategic Director of Criminality and Detention Group at the UK Border Agency, said: "The well-being of detainees is of paramount concern to the UK Border Agency, which is why healthcare staff are at the scene to monitor developments.

"The detainees will be integrated back into the centre at the earliest opportunity.

"All detainees are treated with dignity and respect, with access to legal advice and heath care facilities.

"We only remove those who both the UKBA and the independent courts deem to have no legal right to be here."

A spokesman for the Black Women's Rape Action Project, which supports the women, claimed that the group had been left in a hallway for more than two hours without access to water or toilets.
She added that some of them had been injured during the protest.

Cristel Amiss from the Project said: "More than 70 per cent of women in Yarl’s Wood are rape survivors, many are sick and vulnerable.

"Why are they being punished for raising serious injustices?

"There should be an immediate investigation into what has happened and any guard found to be responsible for injuring women must be sacked immediately."

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