SWOU will be attending the demonstration, organised by Movement for Justice, at Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre on Saturday 3rd December.
We fully support calls for the closure of Yarl’s Wood. Abuse at the centre is endemic and the facility has been the subject of repeated revelations of rape, sexual abuse, racism and violence carried out against the women detainees. Reports of mistreatment are too many and too comprehensive to dismiss. In 2015, the national prisons watchdog called Yarl’s Wood a "place of national concern". This year, a government report highlighted the ongoing abuses taking place within UK detention centres. Meanwhile, Women Against Rape and Black Women’s Rape Action Project have documented a decade of complaints about sexual abuse at Yarl’s Wood.
In London, on Thursday 20th of October, police and UK Border Agency (UKBA) officers stormed six massage parlours in Soho and Chinatown. Although the raids were carried out in the name of “trafficking”, not a single person was referred to the National Referral Mechanism. There were, however, 17 arrests for immigration offences.
The following night, in Leeds’ managed sex work area (a zone in which, unlike the rest of the UK, it is legal for sex workers to solicit) police and UKBA officials made another series of detentions, taking six women straight to Yarl’s Wood.
Similar raids are taking place across the UK and sex workers are an easy target. In the current post-Brexit climate, immigration stings have been given a gloss of acceptability and sex workers – doubly stigmatised and viewed as working in an industry of questionable legitimacy – are among those most likely to bear the brunt of racist police action and anti-migrant Home Office policy.
SWOU calls for the immediate release of all women currently detained in Yarl’s Wood.
The protest will take place at 1pm, on 03/12/16 at Yarl’s Wood Immigration detention centre, Twinwoods Business Park, Thurleigh Road, Milton Ernest, Bedford MK44 1FD. More info at - https://www.facebook.com/events/1774538206143537/