|Protesters in England have torn down fences at the Yarl’s Wood Detention Centre in order to express their contempt for the center’s harsh treatment of its prisoners.
Cosmopolitan reports that on June 6th, hundreds of protesters rallied in front of Yarl’s Wood, one of 11 detention centers in the United Kingdom that hold people who failed to acquire asylum status. Because of their lack of asylum status, the prisoners there can be held indefinitely.
The protesters were furious about the center’s conditions. Yarl’s Wood is notorious for it’s lack of sanitation, healthcare, and protection from violence as well as for the accusations that the prison guards abuse the detainees.
One of the protesters, a member of the campaign group Women Asylum Seekers, spoke to journalists at the event explaining why hundreds of people were gathered there. The protester, whose name was not revealed, claims that the detainees suffer immensely at Yarl’s Wood.
“This is the first time I’ve actually seen Yarl’s Wood and whatever they call it, it’s just a prison,” she said. “Seeking asylum is not a crime. We should be protected and treated with dignity. But people are detained and forced to live in fear.”
She added that she personally knows immigrants that are so fearful of being detained at Yarl’s Wood and other detention centers that they live in daily fear.
“I have friends who jump every time they hear a car door outside because they think it is people coming to detain them again,” she said.
Yarl’s Wood has a notorious reputation spanning from at least 2003. That year, the U.K.’s Inspector of Prison said that the center was “not safe.” In 2009, England’s Children’s Commissioner, Sir Al Aynsley-Green, visited the center and was appalled to find children denied medical care and even subject to violence.
This year, a television undercover report revealed severe lapses in organization, treatment, and medical care. The report recorded some of the center’s guards calling the detainees “bitches,” “animals,” and “beasties.”
Local police attempted to subdue the protesters but ultimately let them pull down some of the center’s outer fence. Shanic McBean, a protester part of the feminist campaign group Sisters Uncut, justified destroying the fence.
“Some people might criticise this. To them I say the violence that is enacted on women in Yarl’s Wood often includes physical and sexual violence, as well as the all too real violence of forced deportation,” McBean said. “These are people. A fence can be replaced.”
The fencing industry is considerably large in the U.K. as well as the United States. The American fencing industry, for example, generates about $51 billion in revenue.