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.

 

 

 

Testimony for NICE guidelines re post traumatic stress disorder

Resource

Published by NICE in a 2005 guideline to the NHS on post traumatic stress disorder

The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) – the body that recommends which treatments the NHS should use for specific illnesses and conditions - invited WAR to help develop guidance for the care and treatment of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, as part of a group of health professionals, patients and carer’s representatives and technical experts. WAR became a ‘special adviser’ to the group. In 2004, WAR and BWRAP gave the group a presentation on Rape Trauma Syndrome, along with two women rape survivors seeking asylum who had used our services. They spoke compellingly about their health and general situation. The following is the testimony given by one of the women, which was published in the NICE guideline on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in 2005.

A Quick reference guide to the guideline can be found on the NICE website www.nice.org.uk/CG026quickrefguide. Hard copies of the guidelines can be ordered from the NHS response line on 0870 1555 455 by quoting reference number N0848 (quick reference guide) and N0849 (information for the public).

Testimony

In 2000 I was arrested for being part of a group fighting for democracy in my home country. I was held in prison for two months, during which time the police raped me. They beat me around the head so badly that my eardrum was perforated. I was released, but later they arrested my husband and took him away in the middle of the night. I don’t know if he is alive or not. Officials kept coming to my house to interrogate me. They threatened to imprison me again, so in 2002 I fled the country leaving my daughter with my mother.

On arrival in the UK I was interviewed by immigration officials. My English is not good so an interpreter, who was a man from my community, was present. But I couldn’t tell them what happened because we can’t talk about rape in my community—it is so shameful. I couldn’t even tell my solicitor what happened - he was also a man and I felt uncomfortable speaking to him. I was refused asylum.

I couldn’t understand why I was being treated so badly and found that I was always crying. At my appeal hearing I still couldn’t speak about the rape, but I told them I had been in prison and tortured. They didn’t ask me any questions about where I had come from or what I had been through. I was really upset during the hearing and I cried. My appeal was refused some months later. My solicitor didn’t do anything more to help me.

I had a friend who came with me to the appeal hearing. She saw that I was crying all the time and suggested I should go to Women Against Rape (WAR) and tell them what happened. So I did and it was the first time I had been able to talk about it and it helped me a lot. The Home Office wanted to send me out of London but I was referred to the Medical Foundation who took me on for counselling, so I was allowed to stay in London. And WAR found me a new solicitor who made a fresh appeal on my behalf. But after about six months the Home Office closed my file, and I had to leave the flat where I was living and lost my money.

My solicitor arranged some emergency accommodation through social services, but I was only allowed to stay for two weeks. I had a specialist report about my ear and a psychological report, which diagnosed that I was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. But although some people in social services wanted to house me, others decided my medical evidence was not enough. After the two weeks, I was homeless again. It was awful – it was just before Christmas and the weather was freezing.

When I was homeless I had many problems. I was sleeping in a park and my bag was stolen by two boys. I went to the police for help, but they arrested me! I went to many charities that are meant to help asylum seekers but no one would help me. The Refugee Arrivals Project let me stay a few nights but then told me to leave saying I could sleep at the airport. When I asked the Medical Foundation for help they said I was not an emergency. What is the point of trying to make someone feel better with counselling if you know they have nowhere to sleep that night? I slept at the airport, on the street, in a church corridor. I just wanted to die. Fortunately after a while some nuns took me in to their hostel.

Because of the torture I suffered I have physical and mental health problems.

I suffer from repeated ear infections and terrible headaches. When my ear is infected it is so painful I can’t see (I am awaiting a third operation). I am also nervous, angry and want to be alone. I can’t watch TV or speak to anyone. I tried to get help from a GP because I was crying all the time and I couldn’t sleep. I keep seeing what happened back home, reliving the rape over and over. I have bad memories and I can’t get these things from my mind. And I really miss my husband and my daughter. But the GP was not good or sympathetic. I told him that I am upset, and that I have other problems like constipation. He just told me that I have depression, and gave me sleeping pills and told me to eat vegetables. I then saw another GP, who was more understanding. He changed my pills. He recognised that I have flashbacks and that I need help. I still see a psychologist every two weeks and she makes practical suggestions about my health. She told me to come off the tablets gradually.

WAR contacted my MP and then eventually I won the right to stay in the UK. They helped me get housing and income support. I see them often and it helps me a lot to meet with other women who have suffered like me, and to work out how to improve our situation.

Winning my immigration case was the most important thing. Everything else depended on that. It made me feel so much better especially now that I am hoping my daughter will be able to join me here. Now I am like a human being – before I didn’t feel human.

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