The government’s new plan for immigration threatens women’s safety. A public consultation is currently open and we urge all of our supporters to respond, in order to amplify the concerns of women seeking asylum.

Below we share example responses from people who have used our simple guide to raise their concerns. We hope that you will do the same!

The deadline for responding is 11.45pm on 6 May. If you need any help with your response, you can email Natasha:

Georgia Spooner, Refugee and Asylum Seeker Wellbeing Co-ordinator for a mental health charity, writing in a personal capacity:
Answer to question 40

I am really worried about the impact of the proposals on women. Many of the women who seek asylum have experienced sexual and gender-based violence, including rape. The Government knows, from how they ideally try to treat UK nationals who experience sexual trauma in this country, that people can block out parts of the trauma as a coping mechanism, and/or find it extremely difficult to talk about. It takes time, trust and patience to be able to discuss the trauma. I think that the one-stop system will discriminate people who fall under this category as they might not remember or be able to talk about what has happened fully at the time of their one-stop claim. 

I am concerned that the UK Government is not fulfilling its obligations of the Geneva Convention 1951. I have written to my MP, SiobhanBaille, several times on this matter and she has latterly agreed to discuss my concerns with her colleagues. I would like to hear from her how those conversations are going.

I work with refugees and asylum seekers and sometimes they choose to share their trauma with me – ranging from seeing family members killed in front of them to torture to suffering domestic violence to modern slavery and trafficking to displacement due to civil unrest; these are all very real traumas. The majority have had years worth of dangerous travel and unsafe living, including travel through EU states, being at the mercy of criminals who steal from them and police brutality. The people I have met would like to have some stability to start afresh, to work, to earn money and to pay for food and clothes themselves and to be an active member of our society – we should be encouraging this as history tells us that immigrants have offered so much to this country.

I would strongly advise anyone to do with creating these proposals to attend a one day Refugee Council training to gain an insight into the realities of life as an asylum seeker or refugee.

Anonymous foster carer for unaccompanied young people seeking asylum:

I am concerned about the proposal to create a two-tier system that will penalise people who take so-called irregular routes into this country. Traveling over borders with so-called criminal gangs is sometimes the only option for desperate people. One of my young people was sent by his father to get him away from fighting in their country and to try to give him a secure future. His mother was dead and he was the only son. I think a lot of parents in that situation would do the same. In the same way, young men who break into lorries do not deserve to be fined. Most of them have no resources apart from the clothes they stand up in and a phone. People would not take such dangerous risks if there was a humane and collaborative international approach to refugees.

Anonymous member of the public from Leicester:
Answer to question 42

I am very concerned about the impact of the proposals on all vulnerable people, but especially on women and people from LGBT+ communities.

These people are far more likely to be recipients of or at risk from sexual or gender-based violence, such as enforced prostitution, honour-based violence, FGM and rape – which is often seen as an acceptable side effect of living in a warzone.

Living through these situations will have been extremely traumatic and it is unreasonable to expect survivors to be able to tell their stories immediately, or even at all to people they don’t know and are unsure they can trust.  Emergency services such as the police have especially trained personnel to deal with victims in a sensitive manner, but even so, women need time, acceptance, maybe medical help and patience before they feel able to disclose their experiences.  Proof of these types of violence is also not easy to find and will put more pressure on women who have undergone severe traumas.

I have read from many asylum seekers’ (including: that they were unable to choose their means of escape, because there was not time – they were in immediate danger – and there was no “official” way to claim asylum from where they were.  To penalise them for escaping with their lives and surviving, by granting only temporary safety is the equivalent of mental torture.  Women will be forced to live in “limbo”, unable to think and plan beyond a few months, powerless to rebuild their lives and families, and deprived of any dignity and security. It is not surprising that many asylum seekers experience mental ill health – they (as we all do) need respect, understanding and support.  This is NOT the protection for the world’s most vulnerable women that Priti Patel says she is hoping to achieve.


Answer to Question 45

I am saddened by the lack of compassion that runs through this entire document. The government seems more concerned about the public response to asylum seekers than treating them as real people, who have undergone severe trauma and need support, dignity and respect to rebuild their lives.  I have heard how claimants assisted by Leicester City of Sanctuary and other charities, have been able to put forward successful appeals.  This shows that the current system is unfair.

I believe the government would do much better to put an end to the Hostile Environment policies and practices. A caring and humane approach would allow asylum seekers to work, and remove charging from the NHS.  Both these policies would be good for the economy as well as individuals. It has been shown that preventative medical input is much cheaper than expensive, delayed treatment – and keeping the population healthy is good for our struggling NHS. Allowing asylum seekers to work is good for them, their families, and our communities, as well as reducing the financial burden on the state.

Forcing people to live in fear of imminent detention is cruel, as is the policy of destitution and poor housing. Asylum seekers should be able to live without the fear of being moved on when they had started to make contact with support services.

Asylum seekers need support and good, appropriate, language-supported, sympathetic legal advice. They need access to English lessons and education.

Most of all the government needs to change its language – instead of victim-blaming, and encouraging xenophobia and intolerance, they should be supporting and welcoming all who live in this land and those who need our support. Indeed, I believe that Immigration status should be added as a protected category under the Equalities Act 2010.

We hope that reading these responses will inspire you to submit your own response to #TellPritiPatel that these plans will harm women. Please download our simple guide to get started:


Update: You can read Women for Refugee Women’s full response to the sham-consultation on this government’s proposed new plan for immigration here.