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A quarter of refugee women have tried ending their lives: Scottish Refugee Council

70 per cent of the women asylum seekers experience physical or sexual violence 19 June 2009: It’s not getting any easy for the women asylum seekers. A study conducted by the Scottish Refugee Council has found almost quarter of women seeking asylum in Scotland have attempted to end lives; and 70 per cent of the women asylum seekers experience physical or sexual violence

The report comes in just about 48 hours after Immigration Minister Phil Woolas said the appeals filed by failed asylum seekers would now be decided expeditiously. Even the previous decisions were being reviewed by senior caseworkers to reduce the number of appeals; and the immigration control system was being streamlined as well.

The findings have brought to the fore the need for improved access to services and support for women suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

The gravity of the situation can be gauged from the fact the report found some women described themselves as "walking dead"; and the asylum process had only worsened their health.

The report, led by the Gender Violence and Health Centre at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said the research surrounding suicidal thoughts was alarming.

Cathy Zimmerman, a lecturer at the Gender Violence and Health Centre, and the report’s principal investigator said out of the women surveyed, 22 per cent reported attempts at ending their lives at some point. Another 20 per cent reported suicidal thoughts just a week prior to participating in the survey.

Armed with the findings, Zimmerman said the need of the hour was to come out with specific services to detect and respond to women thinking of ending their lives. She also called for an end to the disparity on access to domestic abuse services open to the UK nationals and those seeking asylum.

  

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