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Was she set free?

Categories: Protection Gap,Publications

Was She Set Free?

on International Women’s Day, March 8 2018, at Parliament, United Kingdom

By Ruvimbo Mutyambizi, Protection Gap Advocate

Remember 8th March this year – at the door step to parliament in Westminster, the slogans of the day were: Set Her Free, shut down Yarl’s Wood and #All Women Count!

Then, given entry to parliament – the stately room we occupied was bigger than a broom cupboard; it held approximately 120 people at a time. In general, we were a corporation of women who ordinarily, were it not for circumstance would be operating from their highest self, being of such a productive age range of 30 – 65.  The few younger and older were no less forceful in their mission on that day – this year’s International Women’s Day. The handful of men there were no less passionate about the hardship they witness migrant women facing in the United Kingdom.  Beautiful hearts and voices from WAST group sang ‘Bella Mama’; excellent poetry was showcased during all intervals and plaudits for all our works were plentiful from guest speakers and MPs who were themselves very impactful.

Picture this, there were 20 items on the line up as chaired by Dr Shola Mos-Shogbamimu who partnered not only with the Protection Gap Advocates at Asylum Aid/Migrants Resource Centre but with 20 other initiatives on that day.  The agenda was very simply oriented around the three principles of: safety, dignity and liberty.  Actions for after the event were also set out with transparency and sincerity.  There was a call that refugee women’s voices: be listened to with good intent; stay in touch with one’s MP and stay in touch with All Women Count partnership.

For a moment now, can you imagine how the campaign was just and unbound in making parliament know we were definitely present to impress, upon our MPs and you, the seriousness of our corporate agenda of peace, for us – the forced to be disparate – migrants in this land?  Can you imagine the best moment of MP engagement, when Kate Green MP referred to what she sees as a striking contrast to her guaranteed positive reception in the lands of us – the castigated – should she ever need to flee her own circumstance, as a striking contrast to the mean engagement with migrants here and in her world – the United Kingdom.

Here are some highlights we were able to capture that encapsulate the content of the day:

“Deeds not words that matter” an MP

“Blamed for being a child bearer” in a poem.

“The journey is tiring but let’s work together.  We need expertise; MPs use your powers”

“I want you to continue telling your story, move it from telling to actioning.”

“I need safety is what I am asking for, I need security is what… where my rights as a survivor are above the passport that I hold. The pain of wearing my shoes.” (Poem)

“Afraid of her power.”

Stella Creasy MP called for repeal of the 8th amendment in Ireland, citing control over your body is control over your future.

“I am ashamed at the rate of progress.”

“I started as a student and ended an activist.”

“It makes no difference if you apply on entry or later on, the harassment is all the same.”

“Treated me just like the armed robber.”

Kate Green MP – “as I know you would welcome me.”

“It is alright for white people to go to any country in the whole world that they want to.”

“Women refugees their current situation isn’t their final destination.”

“More than 10 MPs coming in to hear your voices.”

Pledge signed by many including ten MPs and peers

“Any time we don’t have a victory we don’t stop we press on.”

“Safety is a right not a privilege.  Women threatened with having their children put in care.“

“Access safe reporting”

“The remit of family reunion”

“Drawbridge – recovery takes time and some never recover.”