To mark the first day of the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict, Natasha Walter shares Margaret’s story:
WRW research found that one in five of the women surveyed, who had claimed asylum and been held in detention in the UK, had tried to kill herself, and nearly one in three had been on suicide watch in detention. Most of the women we spoke to had been guarded by men in detention, and most of them said that made them feel uncomfortable. The detention of asylum seekers is completely unnecessary – their cases could easily be considered while they are living in the community – yet the UK Home Office locked up nearly 2,000 women who had sought asylum in 2012.
Women for Refugee Women will be at the summit with a colourful quilt that the Women’s Institute have made to show solidarity with women in detention. It is stitched all over with messages of support for refugee women and a smaller version of it will be presented to Angelina Jolie. We hope this will remind the summit’s organisers that it isn’t just women overseas who should be taken seriously as witnesses and survivors, but the ones who continue to suffer when they’re in the UK. Theresa May at the Home Office needs to recognise the truth that has been recognised by William Hague at the Foreign Office; survivors of sexual violence need protection and justice. It’s time to stop locking up rape survivors who come to the UK for safety.
For updates on the 3 day summit in London, follow @end_svc and #TimeToAct on Twitter!
To speak out against the detention of women seeking asylum, sign the petition at Change.org.
For information on women facing sexual violence in conflict, check out the Women Under Siege Project.
Related Article: Do We Really Need Angelina Jolie?
Related Post: Global Violence: In War and In the Home