120 women on hunger strike in infamous detention center

Women migrants awaiting release or deportation from the UK at Yarl's Wood are protesting against poor conditions at the facility. They also oppose the idea of indefinite detention, especially for victims of gender-based violence.

Lydia Morrish
Lydia Morrish NewsMavens, United Kingdom
Source: Wikitribune

120 women
on hunger strike in infamous detention center
 - NewsMavens
Wikimedia Commons

Why this story matters:

The facility has become infamous in Britain for cases of sexual abuse, neglect and racism. Over the years, several protests have been held against indefinite detention of women there.

It's the UK's way of dealing with unwanted migration.

Despite attempts to shut it down, it remains one of the UK's nine centers where people with uncertain status are held.

While several efforts have been made by the company that runs Yarl's Wood to improve conditions and life for those inside, former detainees and activists I interviewed insist victims of gender-based violence such as genital mutilation and rape are being detained.

The practice of holding detainees for an indefinite amount of time is especially concerning. Britain is the only country in Europe to detain migrants without a time limit, and campaigners are convinced this leads to further psychological and physical trauma. In the words of one of the detainees:

"It’s so closed-in I feel like someone will pounce on me. I don’t have the urge to eat. My whole body is at war."

crime, migration

Details from the story:

  • 120 women detained in Yarl's Wood have been on hunger strike since February 21. They not only refuse to eat but also work and take part in other detention activities.
  • The Home Office responded to the strikers with letters warning of accelerated deportation if they continued with the protest.
  • Witness accounts to WikiTribune have described conditions in Yarl’s Wood as “degrading”, “abusive” and “hellish.”
  • Since 2015, more than 4.7 million people have come into Europe during the biggest influx of refugees worldwide since World War II.
  • Britain has one of the largest networks of immigrant detention facilities in Europe.
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