Right now, there are hundreds of women locked up in Yarl’s Wood detention centre in Bedfordshire. These women have not committed any crime. They have come to this country to seek asylum, to find refuge from persecution.
I know what it’s like in Yarl’s Wood detention centre because I was locked up there in 2007 for 3 months when I was just 13 years old, with my mother. I joined the campaign against detaining children for immigration purposes and we won that campaign in 2010 when the government announced that it wouldn’t detain children any more in Yarl’s Wood.
However, I saw what my mother went through when she was in detention and I worry that many women like her are still being locked up. If a woman has already experienced rape, torture, imprisonment in her home country then it is really hard for her to be locked up here. Women become depressed and suicidal in detention.
I am supported in this petition by organisations including Women for Refugee Women. Please go to www.refugeewomen.co.uk for more information about the detention of women, and please join us in asking for protection for vulnerable women by signing the petition to Theresa May.
Research by Women for Refugee Women shows that the majority of these women say they have experienced rape, sexual violence and torture in their home countries.
The impact of detention on women is devastating. Many become depressed and suicidal. These women have not committed any crime, and yet they are being locked up indefinitely.
We are asking you to ensure the government stops detaining women who have come to this country to seek asylum. Women’s asylum cases can be considered while they live in the community.
We are also asking you to ensure that no male staff are employed at Yarl’s Wood detention centre in roles where they come into contact with women, and that allegations of abuse made against staff are properly investigated.
It’s possible to create an asylum process which treats women who have survived rape and torture with dignity and humanity. They deserve a fair hearing and a chance to rebuild their lives.