Letter published in The Independent, 24 May 2006
Sir: The "soft targets" for deportation are first of all women and children who find it hardest to "disappear" in the system. ('Soft targets' picked on for deportation, say refugee campaigners", 18 May).
Just last week, a young woman was removed to an African country after the Home Office and courts refused to accept compelling expert evidence confirming the torture she had suffered. She had turned 17 when she was kidnapped and repeatedly raped by rebel soldiers who killed her mother in front of her. When government troops stormed the rebels' camp, she was imprisoned as a suspected rebel sympathiser and raped again by soldiers.
Like most rape survivors we see, this young woman was disbelieved (the conviction rate for reported rape in Britain is 5.6 per cent). She was forcibly deported despite the protests at the airport by fellow students and others.
Hundreds of women and their children, some conceived as a result of rape, are currently detained and facing imminent removal. Our most recent research found that two-thirds of women in Yarl's Wood Detention Centre who contacted Legal Action for Women are rape survivors. They are systematically denied legal representation and other expert help, and sent back to further rape and other torture, and even death - another example of the Government's determination to meet its removal targets no matter how unjustly.
SALIMA SEKINDI, ALL AFRICAN WOMEN'S GROUP
CRISTEL AMISS, BLACK WOMEN'S RAPE ACTION PROJECT
NIKI ADAMS, LEGAL ACTION FOR WOMEN
SIAN EVANS, WOMEN AGAINST RAPE LONDON NW5