Thirty women asylum seekers from Pakistan and elsewhere have staged a hunger strike at Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre against forced deportation.
Some of the women were part of a group scheduled for removal from the UK on a charter flight to Lahore, Pakistan on 1 October. The Pakistani women were basing their asylum claim on gender-based persecution. A statement by 14 of the hunger strikers says:
“We need justice, we need safety and we need protection. Women seeking asylum from gender violence, honour killing, forced marriage, domestic abuse, trafficking need time to prove their cases. We have had no access to legal aid... because of huge waiting list due to mass round up no due process”.
Yarl’s Wood in Bedfordshire, Britain’s largest immigration removal centre for women, holds up to 400 people and is run by private outsourcing company Serco under contract from the Home Office.
There are currently calls for an investigation into allegations of sexual abuse of detainees by some staff.