Refugees deliver messages of solidarity to women detained at Yarl’s Wood to mark International Women’s Day

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They delivered flowers and cards of solidarity

Women who came to the UK seeking refuge delivered flowers and cards of solidarity to women currently detained at Yarl’s Wood to mark International Women’s Day (March 8) and Mother’s Day (March 10).

The detention centre has been the subject of repeated calls for closure over reports of racist abuse and widely documented harm to the mental and physical health of women detained there. In 2015, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP) described Yarl’s Wood as a ‘place of national concern’.

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The charity Women for Refugee Women (WRW) has been campaigning against the detention of women, nationwide and at Yarl’s Wood, since 2014. WRW’s research has shown that the majority of women detained in the UK are survivors of gender-based and sexual violence, and that detention causes huge harm to their physical and mental health.

Yarl's Wood Immigration Centre near BedfordYarl's Wood Immigration Centre near Bedford
Yarl's Wood Immigration Centre near Bedford

Since 2014, when over 300 women were held in detention, the number of women in detention has continued to fall. The most recent official statistics show that at the end of December 2023, there were 86 women in detention.

An asylum-seeking woman from Africa and member of Women for Refugee Women’s network, said: ‘When you are traumatised and have sought sanctuary, to be faced with detention and threatened with deportation… it is just so painful. I am living this pain. I became vulnerable and became an asylum-seeker. I decided to use my voice and not be afraid. Stand with refugee and asylum-seeking women. We need to stop this treatment, so we can all live in a better world.’

Carenza Arnold, communications manager at Women for Refugee Women said: “We work with women who have survived rape, torture and trafficking but instead of finding safety here, the Home Office locks them up in detention. Over the last 22 years, thousands of women have been harmed, traumatised and retraumatised at Yarl’s Wood – and other detention sites across the UK. We have a key opportunity to end this harm now.

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"One of the Government’s key commitments is to tackle violence against women and girls. As we mark International Women’s Day, a day commemorated in the Houses of Parliament, the Government could end their use of immigration detention for women now, and prevent further harm to already vulnerable women.”

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