Women for Refugee Women is an international charity working to challenge the many injustices faced by women who seek refugee status in the UK. It aims to empower women and promote self-reliance. Each year, over one hundred and fifty women are subjected to genital harassment and/or violence. Most are afraid to complain because they fear that doing so would worsen the circumstances they are in. However, by reporting instances of abuse, these women can seek refuge and secure their future.
The majority of cases of harassment or violence towards women in the UK take place within the camps or immigration detention centers. Women and girls are vulnerable refugees who have no access to legal help or protection while they wait to be rescued from camps where they may face violent abuse. Women for refugee women are given extra assistance while they are waiting for an opportunity to apply for refugee status in the UK. As well, women providing assistance to women for refugee women are given special consideration during immigration and visa applications.
Many women coming to the UK as refugees have suffered abuse at the hands of their employers or have become victims of trafficking and are unable to leave their countries of origin to reach safety. Other women may have been displaced because of conflicts and have found themselves living in insecure situations due to the lack of safe refuge and support. Still other women have lost their lives trying to reach safety and have been neglected by the authorities attempting to provide them with refugee status. Regardless of their reasons for entering the UK as refugees or seekers, the UK authorities must provide suitable accommodation and services for them.
In 2020, the UK introduced an action plan for vulnerable refugees to improve the treatment of women and children in camps and IDP settings. This plan was designed to ensure all eligible applicants have access to affordable housing, improved access to higher education, and access to the employment and benefits that are making available to UK citizens. While this plan has been successful in providing housing to many displaced people, some of the identified shortcomings are a lack of access to social services and integration channels that are designed to help women and vulnerable minorities access employment and benefit from greater equality in the workplace. The lack of suitable accommodation is one of the most fundamental causes of the increasing numbers of women requiring refugee status in the UK. As long as this remains the case, there will be a continuing increase in the numbers of women requiring protection.
A further area that is problematic for women coming to the UK as refugees orylees is the lack of awareness and understanding of UK immigration and the procedure for arriving as a result of a granted UK asylum. Women who have experienced violence as a result of being forced to flee their home and particularly women who have lost their lives or have been subjected to torture as a result of the UK’s current immigration policies can face a number of difficulties when attempting to reach an approved destination. Women who have been subjected to rape or serious physical assault as a result of a sexual assault should make sure they receive prompt and appropriate legal protection through the introduction of a designated legal representative.
There has been an increase in the numbers of women entering the country via European Union (EU) citizens as well asylees and refugees. The majority of these women have travelled alone or in small groups, often in an attempt to reach an area of permanent residence in the UK. However, recent policies introduced by the Government such as the introduction of the Visa Waiver system have resulted in many women travelling alone, which can make them vulnerable to exploited and vulnerable communities in Europe.