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.

 

 

 

Mothers win right to family life in the UK

Success story

Mothers win right to family life in the UK

Two mothers, both of whom have lived in the UK for over 10 years and whose children were born here, have resisted efforts to return them to Jamaica and have now won the right to stay in the UK under Article 8 of the Human Rights Act (Article 8, the right to respect for private and family life.)  One woman took part in the 40 day hunger strike at Yarl’s Wood Removal Centre to bring attention to the injustice of her case.

Ms N came to Britain in 1999 after her father, a police officer, was murdered by gang members and she was falsely accused of being a police informer.  She was four months pregnant when she left Jamaica and gave birth to a son in the spring of 2000. She claimed asylum and in August 2001 was refused.  She met and then married a man in 2003 but the marriage sadly broke down. Desperate for money to support her son and to stave off eviction from her home, she agreed to carry drugs. On the first trip she was caught. She was convicted and sentenced to three years in prison.  Under UK immigration law anyone sentenced to over 12 months in prison is automatically considered for deportation. Ms N appealed on the grounds that she, and her son who was born in Britain, had a right to family life here.  By the time the decision was made her son was nearly nine years old but the Home Office refused to grant either of them status.  Ms N was detained at Yarl’s Wood IRC for 11 months and her son was sent to live with a relative. 

Desperate to be reunited with her son and terrified of being returned to Jamaica where she felt her life would still be at risk, on 5 February Ms N went on hunger strike with over 100 other women. She was one of those “kettled" in a corridor by guards for over eight hours at the beginning of the protest. 

Ms N won her release from detention in August 2010. Now, after an eleven year battle she has won the right to stay in the UK.  Black Women’s Rape Action Project supported her throughout the hunger strike and found her a lawyer for her civil case against SERCO and UKBA for injury during the hunger strike. She comments:

 “UKBA’s was determined to deport me even though my son was born here.  Without Barnes Harrild & Dyer - good lawyers who fought for us - they would have succeeded.  There has not been a moment in the last 11 years when I have felt safe and stress free. It finally took three judges to conclude that the first judge who ordered my deportation made – an error which could have cost me my life.”


Ms M and her eight year old son have won the right to stay in Britain. Despite the Home Office (HO) delaying the case for years, when it finally came to court in November 2010 the HO didn’t even turn up.  And the government accuses defence lawyers of squandering public money!

Ms M came from Jamaica in 2001 to get away from the man who raped her. She wanted to study and rebuild her life.  She didn’t know she was pregnant from the rape until after she arrived in the UK.  Once the baby was born she couldn’t continue her studies and became dependent on her father and close family. 

She was badly let down by lawyers Makanda Bart and Co. who didn’t tell her when her student visa was renewed. in 2003.  As a result of their negligence, Ms M’s right to remain was terminated.  She was left with a young child and no support.  For the next seven years she fought to regularise her status with the help of Fisher Meredith the solicitors BWRAP found her.  She commented:

Winning the right to be here is an enormous relief. My son and I no longer have to worry about being stopped and detained, but we are still struggling with the stress of survival.  After a decade of living with nothing it’s hard to find a home and near impossible to get a job.  Even opening a bank account or registering our children in school can be a nightmare. Many mothers and children live like this and the authorities know it”

As a regular volunteer with the All African Women’s Group and BWRAP, Ms M provides support to other women like herself who are denied legal representation and support.

Successive cuts to legal aid have already made it harder for people to win the right to family life ((Article 8) of the Human Rights Act).  Applications can take many years of dedicated work to gather evidence and fully present cases.  Several reputable immigration firms are anticipating they may have to close if the proposed cuts come into effect cases. Rape survivors seeking asylum, victims of racist attacks, low/no income women leaving violent partners and their families will face an even more terrifying future.  Without good legal representation, women and children who are among the most vulnerable to violence and exploitation will face even worse poverty, be forced underground, into prostitution, or be deported back to the violence and torture they fled.

Both women are participating in the Mothers March for Everyone’s Survival and Welfare: End Cuts, Poverty and Discrimination on 12 March and are available for interview.

Contact: Black Women’s Rape Action Project 

 

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