British government jails raped African women


One Day Withous Us in Britain

By Elizabeth Tswana and Anna Cross in England:

Victims of rape treated with suspicion and scorn

Friday 17th February 2017

A Ugandan refugee and gang rape victim, Erioth Mwesigwa escaped to Britain. But the government locked her up in Yarl’s Wood. Elizabeth Tswana and Anna Cross tell her harrowing story

WE ARE the All African Women’s Group, a self-help group of women seeking asylum, based at the Crossroads Women’s Centre in London.

Once a fortnight, 90 to 100 women from different countries come together to discuss our legal cases, share experiences and support each other.

One of our members, Erioth Mwesigwa, a 59-year-old woman who suffered multiple gang rape by soldiers in Uganda, has been detained at Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre.

Erioth has helped other women with their legal cases, spoken at public events and regularly attends our fortnightly meetings. Last Friday, guards came to her room in detention to take her to the airport but Erioth bravely refused to go.

Now the High Court has refused her claim and told her she has to go back to Uganda to appeal.

We cannot allow this. Erioth won’t survive and we refuse to allow anyone to be sent back to their death.

Erioth was targeted by soldiers because her husband was suspected of opposing former Ugandan president Milton Obote.

A family member who hid her in his house after she escaped from prison was subsequently killed.

She spent years in hiding in Uganda before she finally managed to escape to Britain and meet with her (now ex-) husband and family, who had already been granted refugee status. However, when Erioth asked for the same, she was refused.

Many of us in the All African Women’s Group are victims of rape and other torture.

We too have been in detention and threatened with removal.

A few of our members have been sent back to their country of origin and have suffered further rape and abuse.

It is the actions of governments like the British that fuel wars in Africa that make us flee in the first place.

We are forced to be refugees. Yet when we come here to get safety we are treated like beggars and scroungers.

The Home Office has accepted that Erioth is a victim of rape but they still want to deport her because the rape happened a long time ago.

We hear on the news every day how victims of abuse in this country have come out after so many years and are still scarred and traumatised.

Who would dare say to them that they should just get over it?

Erioth is clearly still very badly affected by what happened to her and has never had the support she needed to recover until she met us.

We have been in touch with Erioth every day since she was detained.

She said to us: “When I was in Uganda I had to spend all those years in hiding and fear that one day I will be found by the soldiers again.

“After all that, I have finally found a place where I feel safe with people who care about me. It has given me hope for my life. I do not have anyone who I can return to in Uganda. Here I have my family and friends who look after me.”

Women Against Rape, which is also supporting Erioth, has shown that 88 per cent of victims of rape and sexual violence are disbelieved when they claim asylum.

Even though it is well known that in some countries rape is widespread and used as a way of waging war on the community, when we arrive in Britain and say we have been raped, we are treated with suspicion and forced to prove in every little detail what we have been through.

We believe that Erioth should be able to stay in here and remain a part of our group.

Please join our protest and write to the Home Secretary to demand that Erioth is released from detention and given the right to stay.

Elizabeth Tswana and Anna Cross are member of the campaigning All African Women’s Group. You can join the protest against Erioth’s detention and removal as part of the One Day Without Us event on Monday February 20 outside the Home Office, 2 Marsham Street, Westminster, SW1P 4DF, from 4.30pm to 5.30pm. For more information on the One Day Without Us visit 1daywithoutus.org.

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11 thoughts on “British government jails raped African women

  1. Pingback: Why does England hate Erioth Mwesigwa, Shiromini Satkunarajah, and Irene Clennell?

  2. Wednesday 5th April 2017

    posted by Lamiat Sabin in Britain

    Yogesh and Prabina Maharjan have lived in Britain for eight years as political refugees. Now Prabina is coughing up blood in a cell because the Home Office ‘lost their file’

    A COUPLE who have been asking for asylum as political refugees for nearly a decade are locked up at Yarl’s Wood today after the Home Office bungled their case.

    Yogesh Maharjan, from Harrow, told the Star that his wife Prabina is so depressed over their incarceration at the notorious immigration removal centre that she had not eaten for four weeks.

    She is too despondent to do anything but lie on her bed, has lost a lot of weight and is coughing up blood he said, adding that she rarely speaks anymore.

    The couple’s claim explains that she was tortured and abused as a political activist in Nepal and faces significant dangers if deported there.

    An investigation into their case has been ongoing since 2014, when the Home Office announced it was missing from their databases.

    Yogesh has been living in Britain for nearly 10 years and his wife for eight.

    He said: “Prabina has lost hope and wants to give up. She has lost the will to live and is in a state of trauma.

    “Because of the incidents she went through in Nepal, she is presuming that everything is happening again and she is having flashbacks.

    “She tried to forget the past but the mental pressure of our situation is so bad that she does not speak at all except when she says that she wants to die.”

    He added that the officials at the detention centre “do not care.”

    Yogesh said that his wife’s poor state is affecting him to the point that he is also depressed and without appetite.

    It is their second stint at the Bedfordshire jail after a six-week stint last June. They had been granted temporary admission because their case had been lodged with the Court of Appeal; this was eventually unsuccessful.

    They were detained again when they went to their regular sign-in session at an immigration reporting centre on March 3 this year.

    The Home Office had already scheduled them to fly to Nepal that evening, but their ongoing case meant they were locked up instead.

    Yogesh said they both have interviews due within a week for their asylum claim but that his wife was in no fit state to present her case.

    He said: “In this condition she won’t be able to do anything properly.

    “If we can get released then her health can improve.”

    Prior to the Home Office error, the couple had also fallen victim to a bogus visa sponsor company that fleeced them of around £3,000, Yogesh said.

    The application for asylum was refused and they were denied an appeal, though some 20 people who had also been duped were granted one.

    The Maharjans’ plight follows on from the story of Sophia Kamba, also detained in Yarl’s Wood, which the Star reported on March 25.

    Ms Kamba, who recently became a grandmother, has been prevented from seeing her chronically ill son and is threatened with deportation over spent shoplifting convictions from 10 years ago.

    A petition has since been launched calling on the Home Office to let her stay so that she can look after the 13-year-old boy, who suffers from sickle cell anemia and has been receiving hospital treatment.

    The petition can be found at http://mstar.link/kamba-petition.

    http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/a-380b-Refugee-couple-thrown-in-Yarls-Wood-after-Home-Office-lost-their-file#.WOS6GWekIdU

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