As the Refugee Council celebrates International Women’s Day today (8 March), the charity is calling on the government to urgently end the injustices suffered by refugee women in the UK by ensuring the asylum system is fair and fit for women.
The Refugee Council has today published a briefing about the issues facing vulnerable women seeking asylum in the UK, and contains shocking facts about women affected by violence in their own countries and while in the UK. The paper, Rape and sexual violence: the experiences of refugee women in the UK, is based on evidence from the Refugee Council’s Vulnerable Women’s Project, and includes recommendations for ensuring vulnerable women waiting for their claims to be processed, have access to healthcare, housing, and support appropriate to their needs.
Refugee women are more affected by violence than any other women’s population in the world. Having often fled severe violence in their home countries, many of these women have their asylum claims refused, and become destitute as a result. This leaves them vulnerable to further sexual violence in the UK, whether through being forced into prostitution or simply lacking a safe place to stay.
Today, as over 100 refugee and asylum seeking women come together at the Refugee Council Day Centre in London to celebrate the achievements and solidarity of refugee women in the UK, the Refugee Council is repeating its call for an asylum system that ensures women escaping violence are properly protected.
Donna Covey, Chief Executive of the Refugee Council says:
“Refugee women in the UK too often face inequality and injustice. What is truly shocking is that having been forced to flee violence in their own countries, many women then go on to suffer violence, disbelief, detention, and destitution when in the UK. It is unacceptable that the asylum system can let women down by failing to give them time or help to tell their stories to support their case, and then by failing to provide them with housing, healthcare or support to enable them to live in safety.
“The Refugee Council is an active supporter of the Refugee Women’s Charter, coordinated by Asylum Aid, and we have been working to ensure that the UK Border Agency commits to treating women seeking asylum with fairness. Though we are pleased some improvements have been made, it is clear from recent events at Yarl’s Wood detention centre that more needs to be done before women believe they have been treated fairly here.
“The Refugee Council works with thousands of women seeking asylum in the UK each year, and we are humbled by their resilience and determination to support themselves and their families in the most difficult of circumstances. Now as a country, we should be doing all we can to ensure these women have the help they need to rebuild their lives, and to live with the dignity and respect they deserve.”