The Cruel Reality of the Detention of Female Refugees

I thought I knew everything there was to know about the injustices suffered by females. As a left-leaning enthusiastic Feminist woman I abhor rape, domestic violence, discrimination in the workplace etc but I must confess to being ignorant of the injustices suffered by females who are detained in the UK. The word ‘detention’ has become so much a part of this country’s anti-immigration rhetoric that no one stops to think about the daily grinding process of ‘detention’ and what it actually means. I am now the wiser for having read ‘Detained:Women Asylum Seekers Locked up in the UK’.  

The lived experiences of female asylum seekers, as set out in the report, makes for harrowing reading and is a wake up call to feminists to factor the treatment of these female detainees in our activism. Feminism favours an integrated approach and through history feminism has expanded its’ concepts to include modern day battles such as protests against the austerity cuts against a broader struggle for justice and fair treatment. Thus, the report contributes to a wider understanding of the diverse relationship between feminism and the lived experiences of the myriad of women who undergo unfair treatment on our shores everyday.

Professor Philippe Sands, QC, write in the report that: “In the United Kingdom today, the right to liberty is recognised for all British Citizens…The one group that can routinely be detained indefinitely without charge or trial are migrants”. There seems something inherently wrong that a group of people can be locked up indefinitely without having done anything illegal. Why is the Rule of Law absent in the detention of asylum seekers?

The women who seek asylum in the UK have often undergone brutal treatment in their home country. Many were raped and tortured. Having escaped to the UK it seems that they exchange tyranny for further persecution in a country where they believed some sort of fair system would prevail. The statistics are staggering: In 2012, 6,071 women sought asylum in the UK and 1,902 were detained. They speak of being harassed, developing suicidal thoughts, being verbally abused and experiencing severed depression while living the living of a detainee. In one woman’s words, “living is not worthwhile anymore. Being dead would be much better”.
Is it not time to take up these women’s cause on their behalf?


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