Time for action!
Beatrice Botomani, chair of Why Refugee Women and co-ordinator of the Bradford Refugee Forum, explains why she has organised the event on Refused Asylum Seekers’ Experiences in Bradford on 30 November
I was impressed by the research that Women for Refugee Women published in Refused. It shows a full picture of the issues that concern women asylum seekers, and I was glad to be able to come to London for the launch at the House of Lords. A lot of the research for Refused was actually carried out in Bradford, as I enabled the researchers to come and interview the women I work with here in my city. So I wanted to bring the report to Yorkshire and Humber and make sure that our region works with Women for Refugee Women to take the campaigning forward. That is why Why Refugee Women has organised this conference for 30 November.
Why Refugee Women is a network in Yorkshire and Humber which is made up of women who have sought asylum, and the organisations which support us. We campaign on all the issues that women refugees face. It is traditional for experts and professionals to tackle these issues but women refugees are the ones who are experiencing the heat and it is time for us to be in the driving seat. I want to show other refugee women that the time to suffer in silence is over. We must no longer be murmuring in the darkness. We have to step forward and do what we can now to create change.
I myself sought asylum in the UK because of the domestic violence I suffered at home. This kind of gender-based persecution is not taken seriously by UK Border Agency. But it is the same as political persecution or war. Women’s lives are at stake.
I was told over and over again by the Home Office that I was a liar. I was even put in detention with my two children. It is really painful to suffer these things. I see so many women who have been waiting for years for a decision, who are detained, who are destitute, who are not able to speak up; they are too depressed and their health has suffered. Now I do have leave to remain I will not be silent.
This conference will come up with action points and we will make sure we carry them through. Because the time for being quiet is over. It is time to act together to make sure that women no longer suffer in this way.