Some women asylum seekers are sexually abused in UK

Some women asylum seekers who have been victims of sexual violence in their country of origin are meeting the same fate in the UK, according to new evidence published this week by the Refugee Council.

Its three-year scheme, funded by Comic Relief, working with 153 vulnerable women who have been victims of rape and sexual violence, revealed that 76% had been raped, either in their country of origin or in the UK. While these women have managed to escape the brutal sexual violence that is rife in many conflict zones, they often face a UK system that does not understand their needs, said the report.

Donna Covey, Refugee Council chief executive, commented: “We are all aware that rape and sexual violence are commonplace in conflict situations, and our project confirms this. However, what is truly shocking is that women continue to suffer when they come to the UK.

‘They struggle to tell their stories. Many have their claims for asylum rejected, and many end up sleeping rough or forced to rely on others. As a result, some women end up experiencing sexual violence here, the place where they thought they would be safe, either by selling themselves to get food and shelter or by ending up in such precarious situations that they are acutely vulnerable to rape and sexual assault.”

A literature review and a good practice guide, aimed at those working with vulnerable women will be available from the Refugee Council.

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