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Campaigners draw attention to new women's detention centre on International Women's Day

CAMPAIGNERS in County Durham staged a day of action today against the opening of a new immigration detention centre for women, highlighting the issue on International Women’s Day.

Local group No to Hassockfield aims to halt Home Office plans to use the former Medomsley youth prison, near the village of Consett, to hold up to 85 women, including asylum-seekers, from this autumn.

Campaign co-founder Julie Ward told the Morning Star that ministers cannot talk about empowering women if “we are choosing to lock up vulnerable women.”

“People being locked up in prison-like conditions is not the vision of Britain which is played out even by the government, which talks about being welcoming,” she said. 

“Women refugees and asylum-seekers are subject to horrendous violence on their perilous journeys … and then arrive in a country where they think they’re going to be given a welcome and they are subjected to more violence and psychological violence.”

The group was joined by national refugee and migrant rights groups in launching a Twitter storm today to raise awareness of the plans. 

Detention Action director Bella Sankey said: “This International Women’s Day 2021 in the UK is one where it seems like the clock is ticking backwards on women’s rights when it comes to our immigration system.” 

Ms Sankey said that Home Secretary Priti Patel appears to be breaking Tory promises to reduce the number of vulnerable detainees. She called on members of the public to write to their MP opposing the new detention centre. 

Campaigners say that detention causes particular harm to women and that most female detainees are survivors of sexual violence, trafficking or torture. 

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