Behind the wire at immigration removal centres

Yarl's Wood Detention Centresource: Centre for Crime and Justice Studies 
published: 13 May 2014

Late in 2013 Lib Dem MP, Sarah Teather, challenged the government to ensure that any reports into allegations of sexual assault at Yarl’s Wood detention centre compiled by private operators Serco are made public.

Teather’s demand followed a stream of allegations from former detainees that people held in detention had been subject to inappropriate sexual contact with staff. One woman claimed attempts were made to deport her within days of her informing Yarl’s Wood’s management of the incidents. She also said that one security guard had “inappropriate” relations with at least four women.

We need only scratch the surface of the asylum system in Britain to see that violence has become integral to the way we treat those seeking refuge. Detention without criminal charge, dispersal, destitution, and fear of deportation are central to the lives of those seeking asylum here. As recent reports indicate, violence against female refugees is often sexualised – including sexual abuse, sex trafficking, and so-called “transactional sex”.

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