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A chilling undercover documentary has laid bare the level of brutality, rape and outright abuse that women face at the hands of psychopathic guards in one of Britain’s most notorious prisons – Yarl’s Wood – which is owned by Serco.

Unlike ordinary prisons however, the women caged in these centres have not committed a crime. They are immigrants and female refugees who made the rather unfortunate choice to travel to England in search of a better life.

Many have escaped sexual abuse in war torn countries across the world, in hope of finding a better life in the UK.

However, an undercover reporter who secretly filmed guards for a documentary aired on Channel 4 described how guards would routinely refer to the women as “black bitches” and encouraged new staff members to beat them up as much as they could.

One lady told of how she had to wait 3 hours after suffering a miscarriage.

In a distressing tale, the victim described how she was forced to strip in front of a male guard while he hand-raped her and asked if she enjoyed it.

He told her he was checking “how much damage had really been done”. More than 3,000 men, women and children are currently locked up.

A small percentage of them are illegal immigrants, but others just want a better life while many have fled here after being tortured, raped, trafficked or sold. They are all at the mercy of guards and managers.

Yarl’s Wood is one of the most secretive internment camps in the country. Even the United Nations special rapporteur for violence against women was barred entry.

The magnitude of abuse that many of these women are suffering has resulted in a large percentage of them self-harming.

Despite the severity of the problem, guards were shown to be laughing it off, and called them all “attention-seekers”.

A guard is also filmed saying: “They’re animals. They’re beasties. They’re all animals. Caged animals. Take a stick with you and beat them up. Right?”

However, in a country where immigrants are routinely blamed for every ill that occurs, cases like these often slip under the radar. In fact, today’s refugees are the scapegoats of government cutbacks, a failing economy and mass unemployment.

Multiple daily stories about terrorism and scary looking dark-skinned women in black burkas have convinced a whole nation of people, that these forgotten women – and children- locked up in Yarl’s Wood somehow deserved the punishment that they have been meted out.

However, the reality is that many of these women – who come from a variety of different countries and cultures – have come here in search of a better life.

Figures published by the Office for National Statistics showed that some 503,000 people came to live in the UK in the year ending June last year.

That is just over half a million. The same figures showed that just over five million Brits moved permanently abroad.

However, can you imagine the outcry if those who emigrated from this country were subjected to the same treatment?

While there is an ongoing need to ensure that immigration remains at a controlled level – subjecting inmates who are unable to fight back to sexual and violent abuse can never be justified.

Furthermore, to date, only 100 Syrian women and children have been accepted by Britain when other European nations have taken in thousands.

Since 2005 there have been four major hunger strikes at Yarl’s Wood. The actresses and campaigners Angelina Jolie, Romola Garai and Juliet Stevenson are just some of the personalities who have spoken up for these double victims.

It is not the first time Yarl’s Wood has been in the news for all the wrong reasons either.

Earlier this year, a report by Women for Refugee Women revealed how women were watched while they went to the toilets, routinely made to strip to satisfy the desires of male staff members and forced to have sexual relations with some of them.

They also spoke of being treated worse than animals – which some of the staff members themselves were filmed confessing to.

In 2009, an official inquiry was launched after it was found that many immigration staff and guards in immigration detention centres across the UK had links to the BNP.

One guard employed to look after asylum-seekers at a detention centre has been forced to resign after his name was found on a membership list of the BNP. Another was suspended pending an inquiry into alleged links with the far-right organisation.

Both cases raise serious concerns about racism within the immigration system, where membership of extreme political groups has long been suspected.

Since then, hundreds of allegations of brutality, including 38 claims of racism, made by asylum-seekers about private security and immigration staff had been made – by men and women alike.

This included name calling, sexual abuse and physical violence.

In 2009, the Home Office received another report from its own complaints watchdog, that raised serious concerns about the treatment of complaints of racism made by asylum-seekers, many of which had been miscategorised as “poor service” complaints.

Often these complaints were simply ignored or dismissed.

Of course, when confronted with yet more evidence of beatings, rape and contempt for those women locked up without having committed a crime, a spokesman from Yarl’s Wood trotted out the usual “lessons have been learned” “we will look into this” mantra.

However, how much faith could one seriously put into these empty and half-hearted responses when Yarl’s Wood has a long and chequered history of sexually abusing and beating up its inmates?

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