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Tuesday, 5 May 2015

2015 UK General Election, austerity and women asylum seekers

Guest blog piece by All Africa Women's Group

Originally published as a letter in Camden New Journal (1)

Election 2015: Women asylum seekers and immigrants are targets of austerity

Published: 30 April, 2015
• WE are a self-help group of women asylum seekers and immigrants based at the Crossroads Women’s Centre.

We’ve discussed the effect the election is having on us. Most political parties blame us for the lack of jobs and housing, the low wages, the strain on schools and the NHS. We didn’t cause austerity. We were its first targets.

We are here because we were imprisoned, raped, starved, our children killed or taken from us under dictatorships and corrupt governments propped up by the West. Companies go into Africa and mine our resources. They are like kings. But when we come here, fleeing proxy wars fuelled by British weapons, we are treated like beggars and criminals.

We escaped to the UK for protection, but our torture has continued. We are put in detention, racially and sexually abused. We took part in hunger strikes against the inhuman conditions in Yarl’s Wood detention centre. When released, we are made destitute – nowhere to sleep, no money, no food. Asylum seekers are not allowed to work so we are forced into exploitative relationships, prostitution or worse.

A mother was imprisoned and her children were taken into care when she applied for a NI number so she could get a job and support her family.

We suffer racist attacks, from name-calling and spitting to physical assaults. We can’t go to the police for fear of being deported or imprisoned.

An estimated £7.5trillion is owed to Africa for the slave trade. Yet as soon as we are allowed to, we work. Many nurses, doctors, transport and care workers are immigrant. Britain didn’t pay for our education but benefits from it. We are among the first victims of the infamous zero-hour contracts.

British, immigrant, asylum seeker… if we want a better world we should support each other. That’s what we do at the Crossroads Women’s Centre.

Crossroads Women’s Centre
Kentish Town Road, NW5

(1) http://www.camdennewjournal.com/letters/2015/apr/election-2015-women-asylum-seekers-and-immigrants-are-targets-austerity

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