Yarl’s Wood detainee reports better treatment since protests (VIDEO)
Juliet Akao, who is awaiting potential deportation to Uganda, told the Morning Star newspaper: “The treatment is better, and even the way [the staff] are behaving towards us is better.”
Mass protests were held at the Bedfordshire detention center earlier this year after reports of abuse and degrading treatment by security staff of those held in the all-female facility.
Akao was involved in organizing parallel protests on Saturday inside Yarl’s Wood as hundreds of supporters rallied outside, at one point tearing down sections of the outer perimeter fence.
“The girls were very overwhelmed with the number of people that came,” Akao said. After the protest had subsided, the detained women were so joyful that “someone decided to play a disco, just to relieve the stress,” she told the Morning Star.
“Because the girls were very quite worried about what was going to happen after the protest, so what they did was played some music in the hall and some girls went to dance. Not very many of them, just a handful.”
“Uniting together in here is very important,” Akao added. “We try to help each other, that’s what we do.”
In January, a report by the charity Women for Refugee Women claimed that 33 of the women interviewed said they were watched by male staff while naked or in the bathroom. Seven alleged they had suffered physical assault at the hands of Yarl’s Wood personnel.
Six women claimed that staff had made inappropriate suggestions of a sexual nature, and three said they had been touched in a sexual manner.
In March, one former detainee spoke exclusively to RT. Juliet Nantambi, 35, a Ugandan asylum seeker who came to the UK to escape persecution for being gay, described her experience of the conditions detainees are kept under.
She spent three months in Yarl’s Wood last year, an experience she described as “horrendous.”
“[The guards] don’t look at you as a human being. It’s true [that] they say we are animals,” she said.
Routine abuse from guards causes many detainees, 90 percent of whom are women, to become depressed or even attempt suicide.
“Those who go in there without mental health issues end up with mental health issues,” Nantambi said.
When asked whether she knew anyone who had attempted suicide at Yarl’s Wood, she said: “Yes, and I was one of them.”
She added: “One time I had given up, I lost all my energy. I stopped eating. I just wanted to die.”