The Way Ahead: An asylum system without detention – Women for Refugee Women (UK)

Latest report, The Way Ahead, lays out how to build an asylum process which does not rely on detention. It explores the views and experiences of women refugees to show the harms of routine detention and the need to build a fairer and more humane asylum system, based on engagement rather than enforcement. The Way Ahead urges the government to implement its commitment to move away from the routine use of detention and is essential reading for campaigners and policy makers.


Every year, around 2,000 women who have come to the UK to seek asylum are locked up in immigration detention.

Many of these women are survivors of rape or other genderbased violence. Detention is traumatic for them, and levels of mental distress and self-harm among them are high. Their detention is also often pointless, as the majority of these women are not removed from the UK, but released back into the community to continue with their cases.

This can’t, and doesn’t have to, continue. This report sets out a vision of a different type of asylum system: one that focuses on providing support to and engaging constructively with people seeking asylum, and which works to resolve their cases in the community, without the use of detention. Immigration and asylum systems that are based on support and engagement are much more humane than those that rely on enforcement and detention. Research also shows they are cheaper, and more effective.

The report draws on specific, practical examples of the use of support and engagement in the asylum process, to show what a different type of asylum system might look like. It is also rooted in the views and opinions of women who have been or are going through the UK asylum system. The voices of asylum-seeking and refugee women have always been at the heart of Women for Refugee Women’s work, and we believe it is crucial that their experiences of the asylum system, and opinions on how it should be reformed, are heard.

SOURCE:  Girma, Marchu and Lousley, Gemma. “The Way Ahead: An asylum system without detention.” Women for Refugee Women, March 2017.

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