VAP News > 26th April 2016: News from VAP meet-up and info day with guest speakers from (...)
- 50% of women asylum seekers are survivors of rape
- 70% of women in detention are rape survivors
- 88% of rape survivors are disbelieved by Home Office officials when they first claim asylum. Half of those Home Office decisions are overturned by a judge on appeal.
Last Friday on 22 April, VAP supporters old and new gathered for a meet-up event in central London, along with guest speakers invited from the Crossroads Women’s Centre. We heard from their Women of Colour and All-Africa Women’s groups on their current advisory and support work with female refugees and asylum seekers. Some of the experiences that these women have faced are truly shocking – for instance, we learned about lesbian women from Uganda who are forced back to a country where their lives are at risk just because of their sexual orientation, and about the Yarl’s Wood removal centre where women and children continue to be held in completely inadequate conditions. Concerns have even be raised about abuse and rape allegations there. This is particularly shameful considering that many of the detainees are already survivors of rape and other violence.
The programme for the evening continued with VAP member Gabrielle Messeder sharing her reflections on volunteering and meeting people at the "Jungle" camp in Calais earlier this year. This led into discussion of the recent Refugee Rights report on human rights abuses at the camp – perhaps the most disturbing example is the police violence that 86% of those surveyed reported. Two other VAP members also reported on their discussions with people living in tents and other makeshift housing at the port in Athens. Again, these include women and families as well as men who are already escaping awful situations including war, only to find themselves abandoned and destitute in Europe as well, or facing deportation.
VAP believes that it is crucial to continue raising awareness about these abuses and the poor treatment of refugees and asylum seekers in many different countries. These are human beings who have already suffered hugely – so it is an absolute scandal that they are treated so horrifically in the countries where they are seeking refuge and peace. The Crossroads groups also organise school visits and other public education events to draw attention to these issues, and VAP will be keeping in touch so that we can share resources and prepare our workshops on migration and human rights for this year’s UK workcamps.
For more information on the Crossroads All African Women’s group supporting refugees and asylum seekers, please see www.facebook.com/AllAfricanWomen.
And don’t forget the day of action on detention on 7 May – details coming soon!