Migrants' Rights Network

Rape Survivor Held Over Immigration Status in London

A months-long investigation by Politics.co.uk uncovered the story of a young woman who was detained over her immigration status after reporting being kidnapped and raped.

The tragic story, which took place in March 2017, highlights “how far Theresa May’s ‘hostile environment’ towards immigrants has gone and raises serious questions about whether immigration enforcement practices are now discouraging the victims of crimes from reporting them to the police.”

The woman – whose nationality and age have been kept confidential – was five months pregnant when she walked into a London police station to report a six-months ordeal of kidnapping, rape and abuse. Officers took her to the Havens sexual assault centre, which provides care for women who have been sexually assaulted.

But while there, she was suddenly arrested and taken into custody at an east London police station. She was then interrogated over her immigration status. 

The story has caused outrage and prompted London Mayor Sadiq Khan to question the Metropolitan Police over their handling of the situation. Deputy Mayor Sophie Linden said to Politics.co.uk:

“We have raised the issue with the Met, and continue to work closely with the police and the Havens to ensure victims have the confidence to come forward and report.

“Victims of sexual abuse or exploitation have already suffered unimaginable distress at the hands of their perpetrators, and the Havens are an invaluable asset as we strive to improve the support available to all victims to help them cope, recover and find justice.

“If victims – whatever their circumstances – don’t have the confidence to come forward and report crimes, we cannot catch the perpetrators who can continue to offend, and justice is not done.”

Together with MRN, several politicians and activists have linked the incident to Theresa May’s “hostile environment” policy, which has placed immigration enforcement above and beyond any duty of care.   

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Fabien Cante

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