|Brigitte’s pro-bono legal team at Kingsley Napley have just announced that they will cover the full cost of her daughters air fares!
Brigitte is overwhelmed by the kindness and the generosity, not only of her solicitors, but of everyone who has been moved to make immediate donations. A further £172 has been received so far. These and any further donations will be used to cover additional/inevitable costs incurred by moving from the DRC and settling here in London.
Thank you all for your care and support for Brigitte and her children. We will be back in touch once they are with us!
Black Women’s Rape Action Project.
Brigitte fled the Democratic Republic of Congo having been detained and tortured in prison by the authorities for her own and her family’s involvement in the opposition movement. Once in the UK she spent seven years fighting for the right to stay whilst doing what she could to find her five children who were lost to her.
In 2013, with BWRAP’s help, Brigitte won indefinite leave to remain but was denied the right to automatic family reunion. Later that year, miraculously, she found two of her daughters alive in DRC, but living in terrible conditions. She wanted to bring them to Britain, but couldn’t afford to pay a lawyer. BWRAP was able to secure pro bono representation from Katie Newbury at Kingsley Napley and Rebecca Chapman at 2 Garden Court. Applications for family reunion were made in May 2016, but rejected three months later. None of the evidence so painstakingly gathered was addressed. Statements from her daughters detailing their vulnerability to destitution, the history of the abuse they had suffered after Brigitte fled, and the traumatic impact that ongoing separation had on them, were dismissed and ignored.
Brigitte appealed. BWRAP and Women Against Rape gave witness testimony at her hearing and Brigitte was supported by 19 women from AAWG all crammed into a tiny court. Unlike some judges who dislike public scrutiny, Judge Lingam thanked everyone for attending.
Finally in March 2018, Judge Lingham granted Brigitte the right to family reunion in Britain – a monumental victory. It could never have happened without a mother who refused to give up, a dedicated team of women campaigners and a legal team all ready to put their expertise and their hearts into the struggle together. Brigitte says:
“I’ve watched other mothers like me live for the moment they’re precious children come back. Words cannot express what we feel, but we know that no mother or child anywhere in the world should have to suffer so much to live together.”
To donate, please mark your donation: “Brigitte’s Appeal”
Bank transfer: HSBC Account name: Black Women’s Rape Action Project, Account No: 61635581 Sort Code: 40-04-04
Or via PayPal: Black Women’s Rape Action Project.
More information: Tel 020 7482 2496, email firstname.lastname@example.org
UPDATE: The Supreme Court upheld the women’s claim – a significant victory for all rape survivors!
|Today 21 February, the Supreme Court will give the verdict on a police appeal to overturn a high court decision which protects rape victims. This shameful appeal was backed by Prime Minister Theresa May.
Biased and negligent police investigations are a major reason the conviction rate for reported rape remains a disgraceful 6%. For decades victims of rape have fought for their right to thorough investigations and for the gathering of evidence that could result in the prosecution of their attackers. In the John Warboys case (prosecuted in 2009), police hostility to his victims enabled him to sexually assault over 100 women with impunity. One victim spoke publicly about how the police laughed in her face at her reporting a taxi driver.
In a pathbreaking case in 2014, two of Warboys’ victims used Article 3 of the Human Rights Act to uphold their right to state protection from serious violence (police investigation of crime), and won damages for inhuman and degrading treatment.
Other victims had previously taken similar legal actions. In 2012 Ms X won compensation from the Met after suing the police for breach of policy on the investigation of rape. Ms X worked with WAR for seven years to uncover what went wrong. After an in-depth IPCC investigation which spelled out the most horrendous police incompetence and negligence, she took the case through the civil court using this same Article 3 (and Article 8) and was awarded £15,000. The victim’s mother, who worked tirelessly for justice against the systemic police problems on child rape exposed by her daughter’s case said, “When you walk into a police station to report rape you expect the police to investigate thoroughly. I was devastated when they didn’t, because I’d encouraged my daughter to report against her wishes and felt I had let her down.”
May’s support for this legal appeal gives the lie to her pledges to improve laws protecting women from violence. She also wants to repeal the Human Rights Act, one of the only routes rape survivors have been able to use to hold the police to account, breaking with years of impunity.
May’s blatant hypocrisy is also exposed by her economic policy, slashing women’s escape routes from violence.
Philip Hammond’s budget announcement last year of £30m support for women hides the outrageous financial attacks on women by successive governments, which have increased women and children’s vulnerability to rape and domestic violence, and cut our protection and escape routes:
· 86% of austerity cuts have fallen on women, cutting helplines, refuges, legal aid and criminal injuries compensation;
· 17% of refuges have closed since 2010; 2 in 3 women, and 4 in 5 BME women are turned away from a refuge every day; refuges must compete for dwindling council funds against housing, roads, libraries, etc.; many will close under new proposals to cut housing benefit on which 50 % of refuges depend;
· the children of mothers who report domestic violence and/or have been impoverished are taken from their mothers who are denied the support and protection they are entitled to; the number of children in care is the highest it’s been for 35 years; the UK has the highest adoption rate in Europe, 90% of it without the family’s consent; this amounts to punishment for mothers reporting rape;
· victims of domestic violence are denied legal aid and forced to defend themselves against violent ex-partners in the family court; evidence of violence is dismissed and children are forced into contact or even to live with violent fathers, endangering and in some cases ending their lives;
· women and children seeking asylum from rape and other torture have been refused entry, detained, made destitute and deported;
· slashed benefits and punitive sanctions have forced mothers into low-waged zero hours jobs or prostitution to feed their kids;
· sold off public housing has given free reign to profiteering landlords, forcing poor families away from their support networks.
We hope the Supreme Court, now headed by a distinguished woman, will support the rights of rape victims.
See quote from WAR below.
Revelations prompt warnings that forces are failing the most vulnerable victims, with campaigners saying police response is ‘matter of life and death’
• Harriet Agerholm The Independent
• 17 February 2018
Domestic abuse accounts for eight per cent of all recorded crime
The number of complaints received by the police watchdog over officers’ handling of sexual assault and domestic violence cases has soared in the past five years, new figures reveal.
Officers have been accused of abusing their powers for sexual gain, falsifying evidence and committing perjury in cases that campaigners say show forces are failing the most vulnerable victims in society.
Complaints to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) for officers working on domestic abuse cases rose four-fold between 2011-12 and 2016-17, according to data released to The Independent under freedom of information laws. The spike far exceeds an increase in reported crimes during the same period, with figures indicating a rise of 42 per cent.
The number of referrals also rose against officers dealing with rape, stalking and child sex abuse cases.
Katie Ghose, chief executive of Women’s Aid, which supports victims of domestic abuse, said alleged mistakes by the police could be a “matter of life and death”. According to the charity’s research 78 people were killed by a current or former partner in 2016.
Complaints to the IOPC – formerly the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) – are made by a force when it believes officers have failed to follow correct protocols.
In 2016-17 there were 342 referrals of officers dealing with domestic abuse cases, up from 83 in 2011-12.
The number of allegations against officers handling sexual assault and rape cases increased by 148 per cent to 206 referrals in 2016-17 – higher than the 130 per cent increase in reported crimes to the police.
Police chiefs last year asked the IOPC to look into 166 complaints about officer conduct in child sex abuse cases, including allegations that some were not investigated. There were 39 referrals in stalking cases in the same period. There were no complaints made to the body about the management of either of these types of crime in 2011-12.
The police handling of sexual assault cases has come under renewed attention after the Parole Board cleared serial sex attacker John Worboys’s for release from prison after he served nine years of an indefinite sentence.
The Metropolitan police has faced accusations of repeatedly failing Worboys’ victims. In 2010 the IPCC ruled that Worboys remain free because police officers made serious mistakes and failed to take victims seriously.
The overall number of referrals to the IOPC covering all types of crimes rose by 79 per cent over the same five-year period, after the watchdog criticised forces for attempting to deal with complaints internally.
Campaigners have warned that cases relating to domestic violence and sexual assault are particularly worrying because of the vulnerable nature of the victims.
They also said perpetrators of sexual attacks are likely to be repeat offenders, meaning failures in police investigations can lead to further attacks.
Concerns have also been raised about the lack of action taken against officers referred to the IOPC.
Of the hundreds of cases of alleged police misconduct in sex assault cases between 2011-12 and 2016-17, only 17 ended in sanctions for the individuals involved, freedom of information data reveals. Two of these officers were dismissed without notice, while three were given final written warnings.
In domestic abuse cases, 25 people faced sanctions over the same period, including 10 who were given written warnings. None of the officers accused of misconduct in domestic abuse cases were fired, the figures provided by the IOPC showed.
Lisa Longstaff, from Women Against Rape, said in her 30 years working with sexual assault victims, she had been “disgusted” by the low numbers of misconduct complaints that were upheld.
In cases where police officers abused their positions for sexual gain, this was particularly problematic, she said. “They don’t end up with a criminal record, they’re not convicted of rape, they don’t go on the sex offender’s register. And that has implications for future possibilities of abuse – getting jobs easily, working with other vulnerable people and possibly doing it again.
“Very occasionally they end up in court and get convicted, but mostly they get dealt with as a disciplinary matter. And that’s not acceptable. It effectively means they are above the law and that’s a very dangerous situation.”
Chief Constable Craig Guildford, the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for complaints and misconduct, said the police were dealing with an increasing number of complex sexual offence cases.
“It is vital that we get our response to these right. We positively encourage people to report such offences and welcome the increased level of reporting which we recognise some people find incredibly difficult,” he said.
“We do everything possible to ensure that cases are investigated thoroughly, however, if somebody feels that this has not been the case, regardless of when it happened, it is absolutely right they seek an explanation and redress.
“Where a complaint is upheld we ensure that appropriate action is taken to address and learn from these failures.”
An IOPC spokesperson said: “Our independent investigations are both robust and thorough and where we find evidence of misconduct by officers we will refer our findings to the appropriate authority, or in the most serious cases the CPS.
“In just the last few weeks we have seen two officers charged by the CPS following an investigation in Essex and in Lancashire, a police officer was jailed for targeting vulnerable women. There are also many examples where we have directed forces to hold misconduct proceedings.”
MEDIA STATEMENT, by Women Against Rape 5 Jan 2017
There has been an outcry at the parole of Warboys after serving 10 years for 19 offences against 12 women. Yet the police say that other women had reported him, perhaps up to 100, but he is about to be released without being tried for these crimes. Why didn’t the CPS take him back to court? Will they do so now, or continue to let him get away with it? If he asks for protection such as a new identity will the authorities continue to protect him?
The scandalous way this case has been handled is typical of how the criminal justice system protects violent men while dissing their victims – like the police officer who laughed in a woman’s face when she tried to report Warboys, the pattern of attacks that police did not connect for ages, his release on bail (when he committed 14 offences). One lawyer said her client’s evidence was so poorly gathered that the CPS could not take it to court. In a case like this the police seem to be committed to defending the rapist.
Safety and justice for the women he attacked and other potential victims has rarely been the priority.
Tragically this is not the only man who got off lightly for heavy and violent crime. Serial rapists, child abusers, domestic murderers are routinely being let off to attack again – from the child abuse scandals in Rotherham and many other cities, to the murder of partners. Consider Theodore Johnson, who killed three partners, and Robert Trigg, who killed two partners and almost got away with claiming they were both accidental, except for an 8-year campaign by in-laws. Two women a week are killed by partners and former partners but stopping that terrorism which makes many more victims is never prioritised.
Some of Warboys’ victims sued the police for the refusal to properly investigate and won damages, but the police have appealed. The judgement has not been released yet. Can we expect them to get away again with this horrendous failing in their duty of care?
The government which is backing the police in their appeal against Warboys’ victims has also cut escape routes for women and children – from refuges to public housing to benefits.
Once again rapists will get the message: if you committed one of the 6.5 % of rapes that ended in conviction, you may feel unlucky, but need not feel guilty.
Support our campaign to quash Layla’s conviction – like our Layla Ibrahim is Innocent page on facebook
Support our campaign to get Layla’s conviction quashed – go to Layla Ibrahim is innocent on Facebook
Faiza Ahmed – how one woman’s cries for help went unheeded, Guardian 6 Feb 2016