Friday 31 August 2012

Asylum: no woman should be missed out

A few weeks ago I wrote a long feature entitled Rape, refusal, destitution, denial: dancing at the edges of the world, about my experience working with asylum seekers' and refugees' centres in London and describing some of the incredible work of Natasha Walter's charity Women For Refugee Women. In particular, WFRW highlighted the experiences of rape and other forms of gendered violence survived by a number of female asylum seekers who had been refused asylum in the UK. You can read the full feature here.

I have now been contacted by another amazing and important charity, Asylum Aid, whose new campaign No Woman Should Be Missed Out calls for far more detailed commitments to protect the safety of women seeking asylum in the UK. The following text is from their press release.

No Woman Should Be Missed Out is particularly timely given that in November the government is due to report on the progress of its Strategy to End Violence Against Women and Girls. The strategy was published shortly after the coalition came to power and promised work across government departments to address the causes and consequences of violence against women, providing “cohesive and comprehensive” action in the UK and overseas. Asylum Aid say it "dedicates just one, heavily-qualified sentence to the needs of women seeking asylum."

Debora Singer, Policy and Research Manager at Asylum Aid, said:
The government’s Violence Against Women and Girls strategy provides a vision of how women’s basic rights should be protected in modern Britain and around the world. So it is absurd that thousands of women each year on our doorstep are largely missed out.
Documents like this one help decide policy priorities and how to allocate funds. We see women who have fled from rape and sexual violence overseas and claimed asylum, yet end up destitute on our streets and in danger of yet more abuse.

We aren’t asking for special treatment – just the same rights as everyone else. These women cannot be missed out from government thinking.
  • Asylum Aid is a registered charity that provides free legal advice and representation to asylum seekers and campaigns for their fair treatment in the UK. The Women’s Project at Asylum Aid provides legal advice specifically for women asylum seekers, backed up by a programme of research, advocacy, outreach and training.
  • You can read more about Missed Out here.
  • The Charter of Rights of Women Seeking Asylum is co-ordinated by Asylum Aid, and has been endorsed by more than 300 organisations including Oxfam, Liberty and Amnesty International. The previous campaign launched under the Charter was Every Single Woman in 2009.
  • The government’s Call to End Violence Against Women and Girls was published in November 2010, and can be downloaded here.