No woman should be missed out


Around 7,000 women seek asylum in the UK each year. They are seeking protection from persecution, often fleeing violence and abuse. Yet the government’s strategy for helping women who are victims of violence says nearly nothing about them.We need your help to tell the government that
no woman should be missed out: women seeking asylum must be protected from violence.

The UN has acknowledged that refugee women are more affected by violence against women than any other women’s population in the world. Many have suffered sexual violence. Yet the UK asylum system leaves women vulnerable and isolated and often struggling to get the protection they need.The UK government has shown a welcome commitment to tackling violence against women both at home and abroad. Yet only one of the 100 ‘actions’ in the Violence Against Women’s strategy commits the UK Border Agency to help women seeking asylum. In fact, harsh asylum policies in the UK place women at risk of experiencing further violence here, in the place they came in search of safety.

We see women like Yvette every week. Women who have fled violence and persecution who come to the UK in search of safety but instead face further violence and exploitation.

Yvette* was a political activist campaigning for women’s rights in a West African country. When she came to the attention of the authorities, she was detained for two weeks in a military camp. Kept in a dark room, she was deprived of food, beaten and raped – repeatedly. She needed months to get over her injuries.Upon recovery, Yvette resumed her political campaigning. But when men raided her home in search of her, killing her sister, she fled.

Yvette arrived in the UK with poor mental health and complicated gynecological problems as a result of the repeated sexual assaults. Destitute, carrying her belongings in a blue plastic bag, she was taken in by a man who then forced her to exchange sexual favours in return for a roof over her head.

Now is the time to demand changeThe government is reporting on its Violence Against Women and Girls strategy in November. So now is the time to write to your MP and ask them to tell the Home Secretary that women seeking asylum are treated fairly in the UK and are protected from violence. We aren’t asking for special treatment, only that women seeking asylum have the same rights as everyone else.

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