Briefing and proposed amendments to reduce the devastating effect of the Nationality & Borders Bill on traumatised victims of rape and domestic violence
19 January 2022
- Women Against Rape (WAR) has been supporting women seeking asylum from rape for the last thirty years. Since 2002, WAR has worked closely with the All African Women’s Group, a 100 strong group of women asylum seekers and refugees. Most are survivors of rape and other life-threatening domestic violence.
- Research confirms that over 70% of women seeking asylum in the UK have fled rape – so it is a key driver for why women flee here. But information provided by the government for asylum seekers does not explain that rape and domestic violence can be grounds for asylum. Most women we support did not understand they had grounds to make an asylum claim until meeting our groups.
- It is also very well documented and accepted by the Home Office that rape is particularly difficult to speak about. A December 2019 audit of the legal cases over the previous six months where WAR provided support, found that 94% of women had not reported rape before getting help from WAR. Victims need time and expert help to report their experiences as rape has a long-lasting impact. Survivors (and their children) already face years of struggle and destitution -- often including exploitation and further violence -- before they win their cases. 
Evidence to government Violence Against Women and Girls Strategy
19 February 2021
WAR makes this submission as an “expert by experience” organisation. In preparing it we asked women and men in our national network for their views and experiences, and include quotes from them.
The government must ensure that police and CPS prioritise and vigorously enforce the current laws against rape and domestic violence instead of dropping cases. Even senior police officers admit publicly that they lack the time, skills and dedicated teams to properly investigate rape. See interview with Sarah Crew, police rape lead for England and Wales, who says, “. . . if you can’t do it for rape, where the effect is life-changing, you could [ask]: what is the criminal justice system for?”
CHIS Bill - Spy Cops - in the House of Lords
11 November 2020
Sent to Members, from over 50 organisations
Licence to kill, rape, torture for State agents and informants.
Stop the Covert Human Intelligence Sources Bill – in the House of Lords now.
As organisations campaigning for justice and protection for victims of rape, domestic violence, racism and other discrimination, and against the government’s refusal to address the climate emergency, we are alarmed at the Covert Human Intelligence Source (Criminal Conduct) Bill, known to the public as the Spy Cops Bill. The Bill would enable public agencies – from the intelligence services and the police, to the Gambling Commission and the Food Standards Agency – to authorise their agents and informers to commit heinous crimes, including murder, rape and other torture, with impunity.
We urge the House of Lords to stop this Bill which puts the UK population at the mercy of unaccountable shadowy forces, laying the basis for a police State.
Evidence to MoJ Review of Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme
9 October 2020
The denial of compensation to victims of sexual offences with criminal convictions is a scandal. Survivors in our network have been denied what should be an unquestionable entitlement for the violent crimes committed against them. We are outraged that the MOJ omits this rule from the Review questionnaire despite commitments that it would be reconsidered.
Rape convictions: juries are not to blame, biased investigations and prosecutions are - our response to Anne Coffey MP
29 November 2018
MP Anne Coffey got a lot of publicity last week when she said in Parliament that juries in rape trials should be abolished, arguing that this is the solution to the low conviction rate. Juries are not to blame for the falling conviction rate. Negligent and biased investigations and prosecutions are. These are compounded by economic policies which have downgraded the whole justice process and made women in particular more vulnerable.
Abolishing juries for such a serious crime would be a dangerous precedent.
Home Affairs Select Committee Inquiry into Modern Slavery
[Among the All African Women's Group] an increasing number report experiences which could be considered as “trafficking” and/or “modern slavery”. Some of these experiences result from how they were brought to the UK and what happened to them on arrival.
One important and recurring theme is that many victims we see say that their suffering has been exacerbated by the government’s “hostile environment” immigration policies. Specifically, victims suffer from: institutionalised disbelief and hostility from immigration officers and decision makers; lack of acknowledgment of the traumatic impact of rape and sexual abuse. Since the 2014 Immigration Act “hostile environment” policies were introduced women report increased difficulties accessing health care, education, housing, banking etc. more women describe being destitute without any income at all and living in precarious situations where they are vulnerable to abuse.
Open Letter on compensation to Secretary of Justice
6 June 2018
Dear David Gauke
We collectively represent the experience and demands of thousands of survivors of rape, domestic violence and sex crimes suffered as children or adults.
The Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme is discriminating against victims of sexual crimes – even in some cases where our attacker was sent to prison. Winning justice and compensation is official recognition and a crucial step to recovery. It is particularly important for those whose attacker evaded prosecution – the vast majority of rape and domestic violence survivors.
There are several ways in which the Scheme should be updated. We appeal to your government to urgently change the following rules and practices:
Our comment on government announcement of Review into Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme - a victory for grassroots women!
18 September 2018
“Nobody should be made to feel worthless as you do when you get a compensation refusal letter.”
[The announcement of a Review is] an important victory and augers well for future applicants. Victims, women and men, have bravely publicized their case as part of the struggle with the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) which had turned them down. Such campaigning at the grassroots must be credited for winning this review.
The MOJ will now consult and then consider, in claims for abuse suffered as children, extending the time limit, and revoking the punitive refusals to those who have criminal convictions. But there are further rules and practices that disproportionately deny compensation to rape survivors, such as: delays in reporting to the police, pulling out before a prosecution is concluded, and brutally cross-examining vulnerable applicants at hearings.
Over the past 18 months WAR has brought together a network of survivors across the UK. We hold regular online meetings to discuss tactics based on a variety of experiences.
Why we oppose proposal to make men accused of rape anonymous
7 December 2016
Briefing to Parliament (amendment to Policing and Crime Bill – Lords Report Stage)
Following the closure of several investigations into allegations of sexual violence by celebrities and VIPs, there has been another media frenzy and lobby of Parliament for anonymity for those accused of sex crimes.
There are three main reasons why WAR opposes anonymity for sex crimes.
1. It would make rape defendants different in law from people accused of other crimes. The main argument for this exceptionalism is that rape is uniquely stigmatising, that the public believes there is no smoke without fire and therefore even if the person is never charged, their reputation is damaged and they may suffer serious repercussions. Of course it is terrible to be wrongly accused
Briefing against the 2015 Immigration Bill
10 April 2015
Opposition to the Immigration Bill continues to grow.
- In February, Lord Ramsbotham called for the bill to be withdrawn or suspended to allow proper consideration of a government commissioned report. The Shaw Report made recommendations: a limit on detention; an end to the detention of pregnant women; that there be a presumption against detaining victims of rape and other torture. A prestigious All-Party Parliamentary Group which took evidence from a wide range of organisations and prominent individuals also made important recommendations. Why are these being ignored?
- In recent weeks Peers have expressed their opposition by voting for: a 28-day limit on detention; to allow 3,000 unaccompanied child refugees into the country; to allow asylum seekers the right to work if their claims have not been processed within six months; to allow overseas domestic workers to change employers without risking immediate deportation.
Amendment 216ZC calling for the “absolute exclusion from detention of pregnant women” has yet to be voted on. Meanwhile during the debate over 100 pregnant women have been detained in Yarl’s Wood IRC.
The Third reading - a final chance to amend the Bill - is scheduled for 12 April.
Lobbying is working – the Lords are leaping – there is still time to defeat the Bill
Evidence to Rashida Manjoo, UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women
2 December 2014
We believe the UK government is flouting its obligations under CEDAW, and future obligations under the Istanbul Convention in relation to Violence Against Women.
1. Refusal to prosecute rapists including violent partners
“In the 12 months to March 2013 there were about 10,000 recorded rapes of adults in England and Wales, and about 6,000 recorded rapes of children.
“Only 1,820 (18%) of those recorded rape allegations led to a ‘sanction detection’ in which an offender was charged or cautioned for the offence, and 1,423 (12%) of cases were ‘no crimed’1.”
It is disingenuous of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to claim a 60% conviction rate – they are only looking at the cases taken to court. The majority of cases are closed either by police or CPS without ever being taken to court, resulting in a 6.7% conviction rate of reported rapes. (If unreported rapes, the overwhelming majority, were taken into account, the conviction rate would be even lower.)
Child rape in Rotherham questions rape survivors, parents and the general public want answers to
9 September 2014
Submitted to the Home Affairs Committee. We have received no substantial reply so far.
The Report by Dr Alexis Jay issued in August 2014, raises more questions than it answers. Unless these questions are asked and answered now, this will amount to a further cover up.
The Report says that over 1,400 girls suffered multiple crimes including: rape, child abduction, threats with guns, being given Class A drugs and alcohol, witness intimidation such as serious injury to themselves and other members of their families. The Report says no councillors or police in the area can say they didn’t know what was going on, following explicit reports by Risky Business to council meetings in 2004 and 2005 naming 50 perpetrators, including names of taxi firms, individual taxi drivers, and takeaways, and addresses where rape took place, yet no concerted action followed for years.
Black Women's Rape Action Project & Women Against Rape's research documents the discrimination and hostility women seeking asylum from rape face. Over 70% of the women claiming asylum in the UK are rape survivors. Many face severe obstacles at every stage of the asylum process in getting acknowledgment of the rape they have suffered. We found that few judges had any understanding of the impact of rape and the resulting trauma, most paid no attention to the IAT Gender Guidelines which address such issues and some displayed entrenched sexism, hostility and other prejudices.
The particular persecution women face is not recognised by the 1951 United Nations Refugee Convention but governments have agreed there is no need to amend the Convention because “the text, object and purpose of the Convention require a gender-inclusive and gender-sensitive interpretation”. It is up to governments to put this into practice and United Nations agencies
and policy documents have urged governments to adopt guidelines for considering
women’s asylum claims.