The UN Special Rapporteur for Violence Against Women has called on the British Government to ensure that women in the asylum system are better protected.
The call comes following the publication of the Special Rapporteur’s report into Britain’s approach to tackling violence, which was unveiled at the UN’s Human Rights Council in Geneva this week, following the Special Rapporteur’s fact-finding tour of Britain last April.
In her report, Special Rapporteur Rashida Manjoo warned that the Government’s austerity agenda was threatening vulnerable women’s safety, including that of refugees and asylum seekers.
The report noted that forcing women into destitution puts them at further risk of experiencing violence, including sexual violence, or having to engage in exploitative transactional sexual activities in exchange for food and shelter.
The Special Rapporteur condemned the lack of proper human rights-driven government measures to combat violence against women and girls, and called for the Government to establish a specific policy which was responsive to disclosures from violence victims, including those by asylum seeking women.
The report also called for an urgent independent inquiry into the scandal hit Yarl’s Wood immigration removal centre, following repeated allegations over sexual and physical abuse against detainees. The Special Rapporteur heavily criticised the Government for blocking her from visiting the centre during her trip.
Responding to the report, Refugee Council Women’s Advocacy Manager Anna Musgrave said: “This report provides yet more evidence that Britain simply isn’t doing enough to ensure the safety of women who are seeking asylum here. Shockingly: the asylum system is actually putting them at risk of experiencing further violence.
“The Government needs to take urgent steps to quickly end the detention and destitution of asylum seeking women so they are not exposed to further harm. A woman’s safety must always come first, regardless of her immigration status.”