WAR is independent of the police, the CPS and Home Office. Its services are based on self help, and it provides support and legal rights information to those trying to get justice, protection, asylum and compensation. Its campaigns are shaped by casework. It has helped set precedents in law such as the first private prosecution for rape in England and Wales. This work has helped to change the attitudes of individuals and institutions.
When acting in individual cases, WAR takes account of the implications for other cases. It aims to make each individual advance useful to others who are seeking justice.
Below are examples of some of our cases and legal victories.
23 February 2021
A mother with two children, who was evicted by Lewisham Council five weeks ago, at the height of the second wave of the pandemic and in freezing weather, has won a fight to claim asylum and be granted housing and assistance.
Marian Okeibunor is a survivor of rape and other violence in Nigeria and fears that her life would be in danger if she were returned – a family member has already suffered attempts on his life. She is a member of the All African Women’s Group and is being supported by Women Against Rape.
10 December 2020
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) rejected a coroner’s call to act to prevent benefit claimants taking their own lives, following the suicide of a young woman who had told her work coach that she intended to kill herself.
Documents released this week under the Freedom of Information Act show that DWP dismissed both the coroner’s plea to take action, and the findings of an inquest jury which had concluded that a jobcentre’s failings had contributed to the death of 31-year-old Faiza Ahmed (pictured), from Limehouse, east London.
But the documents have also led to fresh allegations of institutional racism and have again exposed the cruelty and harshness of DWP’s benefit sanctions regime.
Ms K fighting for compensation refused due to her criminal conviction
Ms K was raped repeatedly by two adult men when she was 13. As an adult she finally found the courage to report it, identifying the men. The investigation is ongoing. One of the men is in prison for sexual offences against other children. In 2019 she applied to CICA but was refused, as soon after applying she was prosecuted for driving without insurance and refusing a sample test. Reporting the crime had brought difficult feelings up that she had suppressed for many years and she was struggling with her mental health. Given the CICA rule, there is no discretion to take such circumstances into account. She is determined to fight the case and has joined us in campaigning for an end to this unfair rule.
Ms M was seriously sexually assaulted at the age of eight by a male teacher at school. She had to report to the police three times to get them to take her seriously, and the attacker was finally jailed. Nine years after the assault, the attacker was convicted of three counts of sexual abuse of another girl, prompting her to blame herself that if the police had believed her earlier report, the second girl could have been spared her abuse. Many years later, in her thirties and suffering with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, often suicidal but having been unable to get support from the NHS, Ms M applied to CICA but they refused any award as she had been convicted of threatening her employer when he refused to pay her wages. She is furious and said, “I didn’t have this criminal conviction when I was 8”.
Ms W won appeal against reduction in compensation due to her criminal conviction
Ms W at age 21 was raped by a taxi driver in 2013. He was acquitted in court. The trial judge ordered an investigation into why the case had five different officers in charge and a review of its basic investigation and file preparation. After the rape Ms W was scared to use taxis. The police stopped her while driving and found her very slightly over the drink-drive limit, having taken one glass of wine. She applied for compensation to CICA, and was awarded the standard £11,000 for rape, reduced by 30% for her criminal conviction. We helped her appeal as it was by then a spent conviction and there were other mitigating circumstances that year, so the reduction was reduced to 10%.
Ms RT won against refusal of compensation for marital rape
“RT vs CICA – Upper Tribunal judicial review in 2016”. Ms RT had been refused an award despite suffering years of marital rape by a violent controlling husband. She appealed the refusal and was offered an award but with a 70% reduction for two reasons – 30% for a conviction for driving without insurance and 40% for pulling out of the prosecution of her husband before it reached court. In fact, the authorities prosecuted and jailed her for withdrawing her report which they believed was true – for the crime of ‘perverting the course of justice’ which is normally used to jail women the authorities decided had lied. The Tribunal judge over-ruled the 40% reduction as he agreed with the case we made that CICA had not taken into account the circumstances of her withdrawing from the prosecution. But this senior judge did not have the discretion to overturn the 30% reduction for her driving conviction.
My rapist was acquitted, but I won compensation
"After my rapist was acquitted, I became reclusive, unable to trust anyone, let alone have relationships. I contacted WAR and I became filled with trust after the first 'phone call. I was allocated a delightful lady for support, who had suffered as I had. She won compensation and she helped me win as well. I could not have achieved this on my own as I was given first class guidance and advice and first class support. She even accompanied me to the appeal hearing. Their combined strength; their belief in me and my case, helped me win £11,000, overturning a decision made 6 years before. WAR helped me back on my feet and helped in my healing as well. Many thanks and Godbless you all for fighting for justice in an unjust world."
She was forced into sex work while still a child in Nigeria and then again after being brought to the UK and still a minor. Although the Home Office accepted the documents used to bring her into the country were false, it still insisted that the age attributed to her in them was correct. She was accused of lying and told that she was not a victim of trafficking because she had been working as a prostitute prior to being brought to the UK and so had not been tricked into coming. She was put out on the street but with our own and other support has just won full refugee status.
We wrote an expert report for her application. It was only later that she revealed she had also been forced into prostitution – something she found even more difficult to talk about. Her application was rejected because although it was accepted that she had been trafficked, she was found to be no longer suffering as a result and so was not defined as a “victim”. Our report and that of the Medical Foundation for Victims of Torture were cited because they addressed the trauma she suffered as a result of rape by soldiers. She went on to win full refugee status – only because of a prolonged and determined battle with the help of a legal aid lawyer and her supporting organisations.
Her support was stopped by the charity Hibiscus just days after the Home Office accepted that she had been a victim of trafficking. This only gave her very limited right to remain but no help had been provided to her to pursue an asylum claim – for which she had very good grounds for asylum. Being referred into the NRM had in effect stopped her from pursuing her refugee status. The Home Office refused her asylum claim, cruelly claiming that she had demonstrated resilience and resourcefulness in providing for herself after her parents died.
She was lied to by the people who brought her into the country - she was helped to escape. She was terrified to find herself arrested and taken into police custody when she went to a food bank. BWRAP was outraged when the “volunteer” told us it was her job to alert the authorities to any illegal immigrants – even when we told her that we had just found Ms C a legal aid lawyer and she is in the process of making an asylum claim.
Two sex workers raped at knifepoint win £5000 in 1996, WAR challenges discrimination
In 1995 two women won a legal precedent private prosecution for rape, assisted by the English Collective of Prostitutes, Legal Action for Women and WAR. They were raped by the same client on different occasions. He got 14 years in prison, reduced to 11 on appeal. They had been refused compensation for delay in reporting and non-cooperation with the police, but after the guilty verdict, the CICA heard an appeal. The women went before a Panel of three male barristers, represented by WAR. Although the Panel had already decided to grant an award one of them questionned whether rape was the same for prostitutes as other women. The women and WAR challenged this at the time, but they reduced the award from £7,500 to £5,000 for their 'character and conduct' (despite neither woman having a criminal conviction).
WAR challenged the CICA in 1998 about a pattern of discrimination against sex workers and our letter was later published in Some Mothers Daughter - The hidden movement of prostitute women against violence, by International Prostitutes Collective.