Home » cinematic space » The female dehumanizing ‘Jungle’ that is Yarl’s Wood

The female dehumanizing ‘Jungle’ that is Yarl’s Wood


August 2017


Yarl’s Wood – a short film by Lynne Parks – is long on significance and impact on the criminalization of female migrants.  Gateshakers, protesters and interviews – both male and female – form the line-up of voices for this mostly female-centered vivid film.

Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre is a detention center in Bedfordshire for foreign nationals prior to their deportation from the United Kingdom. It is only one of 13 such centers currently in the UK, and it is overwhelmingly female.  Sadly.

Young Amina Rafique, who looks barely 16 in the film, was trafficked into the UK from Pakistan as a domestic slave by her father after he killed her mother.  She is one of the females now on the outside rooting for insiders. She encourages them to ‘not give up hope’ by telling them about her own experience in the Yarl’s Wood Detention Center.

Amina is grateful for having been on the inside. Grateful to have collected evidence to expose it in order to fight for asylum seekers still inside Yarl’s Wood prison. It is both impressive and miraculous that she can look at her imprisonment in such a positive light in that dehumanizing center. It is also heartbreaking.  For those who challenge the system and speak up, they become targets of systemic violence and more silencing (V. Canning at https://www.academia.edu/11937701/Women_Asylum_and_the_Harms_of_Detention ). How was Amina able to look away from the rapes and abuse, and the silenced survivors of, and witnesses to, sexual abuse, the deaths of both children and adults, and the hunger strikes for the time she was there in 2012 and 2013?
Once you have seen the film, the words of young Amina’s advice to her refugee sisters still locked inside that English “First World” prison echo and stay with you:
            “We are not criminals, and seeking asylum is not a crime”.


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