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.

 

 

 

Making millions out of suffering

Leyla04964.JPGLeyla Sami
Women speak out in Parliament against detention, deportation, privatisation and profiteering. 14 January 2010
Report of meeting and more speaches

My name is Leyla and I have been detained in Yarl’s Wood twice, once in 2007 when I first arrived in this country and was put on the fast track, and then again this year I was detained for almost six months.

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Firstly, I want to talk about slave labour in detention. You only get 71p a day to live on in detention. But we have many expenses like extra food and top ups for mobiles, etc. Most of the women are mothers who have been separated from their children because of detention. They need money to keep in touch with their children and help them. If you don’t have anyone outside who can give you money, you have to work to make a little bit extra.

The work is cleaning, serving food, empting the laundry bins and work in the hair saloon. We are only paid £1 an hour. Some of the work is very heavy.

I have noticed that there is less staff in Yarl’s Wood than last time I was there. They are giving us some of the jobs so they can hire less people and can make more profit. Serco makes £3,124m a year. Christopher Hyman, who is the chief executive of Serco makes £3,000 a day. Yet he claims to be a devote Christian who gives money to charity. But it is money they made out of slave labour and imprisoning innocent women, children and men who only came here to seek protection.

We have a model letter protesting about Serco making millions from our suffering. Please sign and send it, and spread it around your network.

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I also want to talk about one of many bad experiences we had of health care in Yarl’s Wood. We don’t have time to mention all of them.

We had a lady with us who had TB who was very weak. The staff used to refuse to take food for her and she would go without. We had to get food for her or she would have starved. They didn’t give her a wheel chair. There was a lift but they didn’t let her use it. Instead she was forced to walk up the stairs to the dining room. In the winter, Yarl’s Wood is very cold and the air conditioning is on, which is very bad for someone who has TB and also made me ill with chest pains.

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Finally I want to tell you about a protest we made and a victory. During Ramadan we were treated badly because we were Muslim women. We were given cold, dry food in the evenings when we broke our fast. Three evenings I didn’t have anything. We complained to the Iman, then we wrote a protest statement. Serco, the company that runs Yarl’s Wood, called us to a meeting and three days before the end of Ramadan the food got better.

The guards try to frighten us into not complaining. I am a member of the All African Women’s Group so when I went inside I had people to rely on. Also, I have been living with people for over a year who supported me and taught me English. When I got letters and cards from people outside I felt stronger and more protected. I encouraged other women to protest. Some were scared they would be deported suddenly if they spoke up. But we managed to get together, got help from outside and made them change the way they treated us.
 

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