Serco, one of the largest and most powerful companies in the UK FTSE 250, privately runs Yarl’s Wood in Bedfordshire -- an immigration removal centre where vulnerable women are detained and in some cases, allegedly raped and sexually abused by the staff who are there to protect them.
Worse still, we’ve just learned that one by one, the alleged victims and witnesses who are coming forward and testifying against Serco staff are being deported. The last remaining witness to this sexual abuse is in danger of being deported this month, without being given the opportunity to testify to police.
Serco is hoping that if it makes a few concessions, and sacks a few staff, the controversy will die down. We won’t let it. Serco has shown that it’s incapable of protecting the vulnerable women in its care.
Tell the Home Office to get rid of Serco and break its contract before the last sexual assault witness is deported.
Serco is responsible for the rape and other sexual abuse that victims claim is happening on its watch.
“They choose younger girls, the most vulnerable. They do whatever they want." That’s what “Tanja”, one brave witness and detainee at Yarl’s Wood said. The staff have worked out a convenient way to abuse the women in their care -- in the upstairs room set aside for asylum-seekers to take family photos. There's a nice sofa, curtains, and no CCTV up there.
This is part of a pattern of abuse. In 2010 a 30-year-old woman became pregnant by an officer in Yarl's Wood. And many other women may be too fearful to testify or are deported before their case is sufficiently examined. These women are not criminals -- many have been victimised by traffickers or were in abusive relationships before they were detained.
50% of women asylum seekers are survivors of rape;
70% of women in detention are rape survivors;
57% of women in detention have no lawyers.
After living through these traumas, some of these women may have been subjected to the same experience at the hands of Serco staff.
No more sexual abuse of women and girls -- tell the Home Office to break its contract with Serco now.
Public service companies like Serco, Capita, and G4S are behind local schools, public bicycle rental schemes, military and nuclear weapons contracts, prisons, ambulances, and the government’s work program for the unemployed. They have been left unaccountable for too long. We can change that.
Yarl's Wood sex inquiry witness to be deported without speaking to police, 2 November, Guardian
The truth about sexual abuse at Yarl's Wood detention centre, 29 October, Open Democracy
Yarl's Wood abuse allegations: Tanja's story, 14 September, Guardian