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.

 

 

 

Our role as mothers is not recognised, we are central to the community

JaliaDSC04944_0.JPGJalia Seremba
Women speak out in Parliament against detention, deportation, privatisation and profiteering. 14 January 2010
Report of meeting and more speaches

I was detained for 2 ½ months with my partner, my 3-year old son and 8 month old baby. I want to say that being detained with children is like torture, and the children suffer a lot. But it’s not enough to stop child detention. No-one who is traumatised and seeking protection should be in detention, they need help.

My son Ibrahim was very traumatised by being in Yarl’s Wood. He is still scared and when he meets people wearing uniforms he screams. He thinks they are the staff in Yarl’s Wood. He wants to hold my or my husband’s hands. He sometimes gets nightmares and when he wakes up he says he remembers detention. I don’t know how long it will take to get this out of his head

In Yarl’s Wood, when my oldest child had a temperature, we wanted paracetamol but wasn’t given any until after 3 days. It took about 1 hour to carry him to health care because of the opening and closing security doors. Also, the staff always clear the health care area of other detainees from other wings, so that people from different wings don’t meet each other. I saw women who had been suddenly taken off anti-depressants and HIV medicine, causing dangerous withdrawal reactions.

My baby had been prescribed Cerelac. Victoria Murrel who was responsible for children affairs in Yarl’s Wood said that they couldn’t get it for me. When friends brought it, Murrel commented that this made for “Black Africans”. She said it had too much sugar and wouldn’t let me have it.

15 of us - went on hunger strike for a week to protest saying “if you can’t provide for our kids what they need, why would we eat” Eventually we won and Cerelac became available in the shop.

Some staff are rude. They do “role call” in a loud and aggressive way 4 times a day starting at 5am. We faced many problems with communicating with lawyers, MPs or friends on the outside. Everyone is supposed to have a pager to get phone calls, but some people never get them. Yet people who call them are told they are being paged and put on hold for a long time. Also staff would put batteries in the wrong way round, or would give you a pager that wasn’t upgraded with system and so didn’t work.

You can only use the pay phones if you have the special card purchased in Yarl’s Wood and it’s very expensive. The one that you are given on arrival only lasts three minutes. You have to rely on mobiles but sometimes you have no credit and the reception is very bad. All 0800 numbers which are free, for example Refugee and Migrant Justice helpline, are banned.

One important way to communicate with our lawyers and supporters is by fax. But every fax that is sent is kept so staff have access to a lot of information and it can target people who protest. Often the staff prevent you from faxing something important, even if you have removal directions. It’s very difficult to do everything that is needed for your case in these circumstances, which means that women, children and men are being deported without having had their case looked at properly.

I was involved in politics for from a young age in Uganda opposing the murderous government and demanding democracy. I was under threat of being killed and I organised to escape. None of this is acknowledged by the authorities. Our role as mothers is not respected. It is hard enough to care for children outside considering the lack of money and other troubles we are up against. But inside detention we are prevented from comforting and caring for our children. We want our work and struggle seen and recognised. We aren’t just victims we are central to the community.

 

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