The struggle for justice by women in Yarl's Wood detention centre is exposing the racist, sexist and abusive regime under which they are forced to live. The action of one woman who complained against sexual abuse and took legal action against the Home Office has blown the lid on Yarl's Wood's dirty secret. Now 30 Pakistani and other women are organising resistance to the deportation of at least eight detainees on a charter flight to Lahore tonight: they have circulated a petition inside Yarl's Wood and been on hunger strike since Friday.
Five of the 8 women facing deportation to Pakistan tonight have experienced or witnessed sexual harassment from male officers in Yarl's Wood. The attempt to deport the witnesses is part of the Home Office's desperate attempts to cover up the scandal.
The women threatened with deportation all face persecution, torture or death if they are returned. Fozia is a lesbian who was tortured by her own brothers when her sexuality was exposed. On an earlier attempt to deport her she took a large dose of pills and cut her arm but was still handcuffed, shackled and brutalised by five 'escorts'. Amina was a victim of violence and abuse within her family both in Pakistan and in Britain.
Others have escaped forced marriage, domestic violence and the threat of 'honour killing'. All are victims of a perverse burden of proof whereby asylum seekers are assumed to be liars until they can somehow prove the opposite. (See below statement issued by the hunger strikers on Sunday)
We must unite with the women in Yarl's Wood to stop tonight's charter flight. Join today's demonstration at 2.00pm at the Home Office.
Fax and email the Home Office demanding that tonight's charter flight is stopped and there is no deportation of women from Yarl's Wood.
Home Secretary Theresa May: firstname.lastname@example.org, Fax: 020 7219 1145
Immigration Minister: email@example.com
And copy to the following Home Office & UKBA addresses: