For Everyone’s SURVIVAL & WELFARE
-- End Cuts, Poverty & Discrimination
Invest in caring not killing
MOTHERS MARCH Saturday, 12 March 2011
We want to take the opportunity of the Mothers March to highlight some of the many issues that concern us as mothers, daughters, grandmothers, sisters and other carers. As African Women we want to represent the countries we come from and tell the world what Western governments and corporations did and are still doing to our countries which has brought us to flee.
Whenever there is a war in any country, who suffers most? Who is raped? Who then suffers the stigma and often becomes an outcast among her own people? When our husbands are tragically killed the survival of those left behind is dependent on us.
Coming here was not a choice but a desperate measure caused by wars often funded and promoted by Western governments. They sell arms to our governments which are then used to kill us and take whatever we have; all our natural resources. Arms are traded for oil, gold and other precious minerals. British arms sales to Africa have risen to record levels over the last four years and have now reached £1 billion annually. 10% of all Shell’s oil comes from Nigeria yet over 50% of the population live in absolute poverty. UK arms sales to Nigeria are up tenfold since 2000 to £53m, including armoured vehicles and other weapons used to put down people’s protests.
They are using divide and rule against us. Before the colonial time, people from different origins or areas lived together in peace. In order to have control, the colonials pitched people against each other and fuelled conflicts. This has continued to the present day. The result is genocide and hunger. The governments don’t care. Why? Because we do not matter to them. If the Western governments stopped corrupting everyone we elect and using them to make war on other Africans, then we wouldn’t need to flee and come here.
When we arrive here we are not treated fairly. When we claim asylum as survivors of massacres and rape that everyone knows took place, we are not believed, and are called liars, bogus asylum seekers, economic migrants who only come looking for benefits. When we escaped, we have often had to leave our children behind, but when we claim asylum we are not treated as mothers and our children are not allowed to join us. Both children and mothers are traumatized by being separated from each other. We don’t know if our children are alive, eating, going to school. We live in anguish for their wellbeing.
We face racism and discrimination at every turn, sometimes even from other Black people who have been here longer or are in positions of authority, such as doctors, school heads or when we try to get housing or other resources we are entitled to.
While waiting for our right to asylum, most of us are destitute. We are prevented from taking any job at the same time that we are denied money to live. We are forced to depend on handouts, sometimes living on the street with our children. We are being pushed into more destitution with all the government cuts. More children, not only ours, will die of malnourishment and disease as mothers struggle to make a decent meal for them. Or they will be taken by social services with the excuse that we are too poor to look after them. Legal aid cuts will take away any legal representation. This will increase illegal deportation, detention, and domestic violence and rape against women dependent on men for survival. We want the government to put a stop to benefit cuts and also to recognize children’s right to food, clothing, housing and their mothers’ care.
Those of us who have won asylum and are on benefits are being pushed into jobs without taking children into account. How can we go back to work when child centres, breakfast clubs and after school clubs are being axed? If children are left without care and protection they may end up in trouble or come to harm. Is this in the interest of society? Don’t our children count? It is also harder to get a job if you are a mother and worse still if you are an immigrant woman as you get discriminated against. For the few who are lucky to get work, their wages are far less than for men or even other women.
Our group, together with all other groups based at Crossroads Women’s Centre, urge every migrant woman to join us on the Mothers March and endorse it.
Women speak about why they are joining the
“I left my three precious children in Rwanda after soldiers killed my husband and tortured me. I knew they would be safer without me, so I fled alone. After nine years, I won the right to stay here and now I’m fighting for my children, now 15, 18, and 20, to join me, but so far we’ve been refused. As mothers we know that separation from our children causes untold grief and suffering to them and therefore to us. For all our sakes, we are determined to put an end to it, and win the justice we're owed. ”
“I’m joining the Mothers March because mothers should
be a priority in this world and are not. The caring work we
do is not a priority, our children’s suffering because they
have no-one to love and protect them is not a priority, our
pain at being separated from our children is not a priority.
We are dismissed because we are mothers, because we are
women, because we are Black women . . . and as if that is
not enough because we are asylum seekers. We are fighting to
change this and have won some things. Some women have been
reunited with their children. Others have found children
that were lost. Most of us are still fighting.”
Ms Y – “Mothers are suffering in this country, especially asylum seekers…but without a mother there is no nation. Who will suffer most from the cuts? Mothers.”
Ms X – “The government should give mothers the right to join with their children here”
Crossroads Women's Centre 230a
Kentish Town Road London NW5 2AB
or PO Box 287 London NW6 5QU
Tel: 00-44-20-7482 2496 Fax: 00-44-20-7209 4761 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org