Sharing our experiences, empowering and supporting each other, fighting for our rights, raising awarness about the issues that force women to seek international protection and the effects of the injustices of the UK immigration system.


Posted July 4th, 2011 by

What is WAST?

WAST Information Leaflet – with directions
 
Amharic  –  Farsi  –  French  –  Arabic
 
WAST women. We are often in vulnerable situations – isolated, traumatised, in ill health, facing destitution, homelessness, and deportation. But we refuse to be invisible and we are making our voice heard. We are women of all ages, nationalities, ethnicities, language, religion, sexual orientation and disability. Some have children born in this country. Some have British spouses or partners. Our families face being split up by deportation.
We would like to thank the Immigration Team of Kenworthy’s Chambers for sponsoring the website.
 
Aims of WAST
 
  • Providing a safe and secure women only space and a source of support for each other, social and emotional
  • Empowerment for one another, sharing knowledge and information, skills and experiences.
  • Helping each other take forward our asylum applications and run campaigns.
  • Promoting and improving our skills and experience.
  • Involving ourselves in organisational and community development activities and networking with other groups.
  • Raising awareness and lobbying on Women’s Asylum issues.
  • Promoting a positive image of asylum seekers.

Who are WAST?

  • Women asylum seekers of different nationalities.
  • Been through the asylum process and are under threat of deportation.
  • Some started up our own anti deportation campaigns.
  • Waiting to hear from the Home Office about fresh claims.
  • Working to try and get new evidence to put in fresh claims
  • Find ourselves without legal help, and with all legal options to asylum exhausted
  • Had all our support stopped and have been made destitute and so survive on help from friends and Red Cross parcels
  • Living with our children, born after our asylum claim was refused, for months or years on Section 4 vouchers

Our reasons for fleeing:

  • Ethnicity
  • Gender violence:
    • domestic violence and rape
    • the threat of honour killing
    • forced marriage
    • FGM
    • sexual orientation
  • Political activity
  • Religion

What we have in common:

  • Lack of women’s Rights in our own countries
  • Persecution
  • Lack of Protection; from our own Governments and/or families and now the problems we face going through the  British Immigration system.

“Because of some of our cultures women  are pushed to the background – we’re not used to  talking, but at WAST we do all the talking. We can encourage women to talk if they want to, and have  courage to confront issues.” WAST provides a space from which women asylum seekers can:

  • Empower ourselves, help each other set up our own individual anti-deportation campaigns
  • Build expertise on women’s issues – rape, honour killing, domestic violence, etc. – sharing info useful for campaigning, asylum  and human rights claims amongst ourselves
  • Link with other groups and organisations about support and  services, or the lack of them, to women asylum seekers
  • Collaborate on things like fundraising together which as individuals on our own we wouldn’t have the time, energy,  resources or contacts to do.
  • Raise awareness in the community and through the media about asylum seekers and in particular women asylum seekers, the issues  that concern us and our families, promote a positive image of   ourselves and ensure our voice is heard.
  • Brings the wider community together with WAST women who  may otherwise be “invisible”
  • Hold meetings in a mixture of relevant languages and  child-friendly environment.
  • Give mutual support, understanding, friendship.

What WAST mean to us:

  • It gives hope to women, through meeting others.
  • A SAFE environment for us to talk with others who understand It’s important that asylum seekers take the lead in campaigning,  otherwise we may be patronised by others, who may have their own   agendas.
  • Even though we are failed asylum seekers, we can still make  a difference and we can support each other.
  • We’re for women, by women, not led by men, as in other “refugee” projects.
  • So much happens to women, who make up most of the world’s refugees. Women are subjected to so much violence, which is  hidden and regarded as less important. When men are raped,  we are shocked, but with women it’s less shocking, because  it happens so often – at WAST can tell the truth about violence  against women.
  • Because of some of our cultures women are pushed to the  background – we’re not used to talking, but at WAST we do all the talking. We can encourage women to talk if they want to,  and have courage to confront issues.
  • WAST brings us together – together we have power, we can  learn skills, increase our capacity, overcome helplessness and isolation