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Girls & Women

A Pregnant Woman Was Arrested While Trying to Report a Rape and People Are Furious

A woman who was trying to report being kidnapped and raped was instead arrested for immigration offences, it has been revealed. 

The unnamed woman, who is in her 20s, was also five months pregnant at the time she was arrested by east London police officers, according to reports.

She went to the London police station to report the abuse she suffered over a 6-month period when in Germany, between September 2016 and March 2017, before arriving in the UK, according to politics.co.uk , which first reported the story.

But, while giving her victim’s statement, she also told officer she had entered Britain illegally. 

Take action: Refugee? Migrant? Human Being. Show Your Support for All People — No Matter Where They Were Born

At first, the woman was taken to the Havens Centre, a network of three centres in London where women who have experienced sexual violence can receive support. 

But police later returned to the centre, detained her, and interrogated her about her immigration status. 

“It is shocking and incredibly upsetting to hear of this situation, where a rape victim is treated as a criminal rather than getting the care and support she needs,” Fizza Qureshi, director of the Migrants’ Rights Network, told politics.co.uk .

“If the police are treating victims of crime who happen to be undocumented migrants as perpetrators, it will deter other victims and witnesses from coming forward. There must be avenues of safe-reporting for all victims regardless of their immigration status,” Qureshi said.

Read more: People Are Taking to the Streets in Paris After Report Shows Migrant Slave Auctions in Libya

The Havens Centre has launched a formal complaint with Scotland Yard over the case, reported politics.co.uk .

A spokesperson for London’s Metropolitan Police confirmed the arrest, saying: “She was arrested on suspicion of illegal entry into the UK and she was taken into custody at an east London police station. Whilst there, immigration officials attended and interviewed her.” 

The police also said the allegations of rape and kidnap had been referred to German authorities.

Read more: German Paper Lists 33,293 Refugees Who Have Died While Seeking Asylum in Europe

The woman has been given temporary leave to remain in the UK, as long as she tells officials where she is. 

But as she has no legal permission to live in Britain she could be detained and deported at any time, according to the Independent

The incident raises serious concerns about the treatment of migrant and refugee survivors of gender-based violence, such as sexual assault and domestic abuse, and their access to a justice system that supports them. 

Read more: 8 Surprising Facts About Migration the Tabloids Don’t Want You to Know

It was revealed earlier this year that tip-offs from the police to the Home Office regarding the immigration status of victims of — or witnesses to — crime increased from 634 in 2014 to 3,372 in 2015. 

The UK is a member states of the EU Victims Directive , which states all victims of crime must be treated in a “respectful, sensitive, and professional manner without discrimination of any kind” — including their residency status.

“Victims of crime should be protected from secondary and repeat victimisation,” it says, “from intimidation and from retaliation, should receive appropriate support to facilitate their recovery and should be provided with sufficient access to justice.” 

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