Male guards watch Yarl’s Wood women shower - Refugee Council
January 14, 2015

Male guards watch Yarl’s Wood women shower

An explosive new report by Women for Refugee Women has revealed that male guards at Yarl’s Wood are routinely watching women shower and use the toilet, despite Home Office officials claiming this would not be allowed.

Women for Refugee Women spoke to 38 current and former detainees, of whom 33 said that they were seen by male staff in the centre in intimate situations including when naked, when in bed, when on the toilet and when in the bathroom.

More than 70% of the women who talk about their experiences in their home countries said that they had been raped or been victims of other sexual violence prior to arriving in Britain. Over half of the women were on suicide watch, while 40% said that they self-harmed while inside.

I Am Human also reports that six women said that staff at Yarl’s Wood had made sexual suggestions to them, with three alleging that they were touched sexually.

Refugee Council Head of Advocacy Dr Lisa Doyle called the findings “inexcusable” saying:

“It’s unimaginable to think that the Government locks up rape victims and inappropriately leaves them under the control of male guards.

“It’s appalling that women at Yarl’s Wood are treated like criminals, despite their only “crime” being to believe they would be safe in Britain.

“We urge the Government to take the brave step of acknowledging that centres like Yarl’s Wood are an affront to justice, and should be closed immediately.”

We’re calling on the Government to close the Protection Gap for women who are seeking asylum in the UK.