ERIOTH MWESIGWA, released from detention, but still fighting for the right to stay

We, the All African Women’s Group, send thanks from the bottom of our hearts for all the support you gave to our precious sister Erioth Mwesigwa. Erioth is a 58-year-old woman from Uganda who suffered multiple rape by soldiers in Uganda. She was persecuted because her husband was suspected of opposing the President. Her husband, who managed to escape with their children, was granted refugee status but when Erioth asked for the same she was turned down. Erioth was detained pending removal to Uganda. But she refused to go with the guards to the airport and on 23 February won her release from Yarl’s Wood IRC. She has asked us to send you this message.

“Inside Yarl’s Wood you are cut off from the whole world and everyone. I can’t express how happy and uplifted I felt to hear that people outside were thinking about me. It gave me courage so that, even though I was frightened, I refused to go with the guards when they came to take me to the airport.

“Rape makes you feel empty and alone. You start hating yourself and feel like everyone can see what has happened to you. The All African Women’s Group has given me hope because we are open with each other about what we have gone through and I know I’m not alone.”

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Women Against Rape are helping Erioth document how the traumatic impact of rape has made it so difficult to pursue her legal case, so that lawyers can ask the Home Secretary to reconsider her asylum claim. We will be getting back to you once the application has been made to ask for your support again.

All African Women’s Group (AAWG), Crossroads Women’s Centre, 25 Wolsey Mews, London NW5 2DX. Email: aawg02@googlemail.com. Phone: 020 7482 2496

From Ms PB who won £38 000 in compensation for unlawful detention

“I have been granted leave to remain in the UK.  I can not express my appreciation to Women Against Rape who played a vital role to make this day come true.

They called me almost every week while I was in Yarl’s Wood IRC and gave me moral support and encouraged me to be strong. I remember how we spoke on the phone while I was being driven to the airport to be deported to my country. They said, a barrister had been sent to court to stop my removal. I was nonplussed to know that people were out there fighting for me. They struggled to get me one of the best existing solicitors. Victory became mine since she started to represent me. WAR also wrote a letter concerning the rape I suffered and why some women can not report rape early.
I owe my victory today to Women Against Rape. The self-help guide* they sent to the detention centre in Bedford was a vital tool to channel me to this stage. Once more , I say thank you all.”

* For Asylum Seekers and their Supporters: A Self-Help Guide against detention & deportation by Legal Action for Women, 2005

Landmark damages for rape survivor detained unlawfully including interview with BBC Radio 4
£38,000 for asylum seeker illegally detained in UK the Guardian 10 March 2008