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Male staff ‘watch detained female refugees in toilet’

by Joana Ramiro

WOMEN in an infamous refugee detention centre are watched by men at all times — including in intimate situations — a charity warned yesterday.

Women for Refugee Women’s (WRW) most recent report on Yarl’s Wood revealed how almost all of the interviewed detainees complained about invasion of privacy including male staff looking on as they were naked, in bed or on the toilet.

“When you are on suicide watch you ask for a woman when you want to take a shower. They said we don’t have enough staff,” said one inmate.

After being put under the observation of a man while in the bathroom, the detainee asked him to leave.

“He refused. They didn’t respect us,” she added.

Repeated reassurances have been made by the Home Office that male staff would not come into contact with Yarl’s Wood inmates but with no result.

A third of those interviewed by WRW said they had been searched by men in the facilities.

Many reported sexual harassment and sexual assault by members of staff.

“Women who come to the UK seeking protection are routinely being locked up and are denied privacy and dignity in detention despite claims to the contrary from the Home Office,” said WRW spokeswoman Natasha Walter.

“Detention has no place in the asylum process and women who seek safety here should not be locked up.”

Yarl’s Wood has been the target of severe criticism from human rights campaigners and politicians for recurrent reports of staff sexual and professional misconduct.

Last summer 10 workers at the facilities were dismissed after an investigation into 31 allegations of sexual contact.


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