"A Woman, A Refugee" - a poem about a survivor's experience claiming asylum

Write to Life member, Jade, shares her experience of being disbelieved, judged and hungry during the asylum process in this powerful poem.

A Woman, A Refugee, by Jade

A woman, a refugee,
Or an asylum seeker, with a child
Nobody wants to know.
You’re a refugee, asylum seeker
Whatever, I don’t want to know.
You’re dirty and a liar
You have not been tortured
You just depend on our generosity
I hope they don’t give you any benefits at all.

Take that dirty child away
Why have a child, when you have no job?
Our country is not for people like you
Asylum seeking woman.
What did you do to your husband?
I guess you came here to prostitute yourself
And that’s why you claim asylum.
I read through your lies and that’s why
I asked them to stop your support
Because your claim has been found to be fraudulent
You will be deported back to where you came from.

‘I beg you not to deport me and my baby
Because they will kill me and my child
Help me, I am a refugee
You don’t know the people I ran from
I was rich but they took everything
They killed my husband and two of my children
I escaped with this little girl, who is my world.
So please help me, I need help.’

I left the officer who had done little to help
I sat down and cried
But crying was not going to achieve anything
This lady saw me crying my eyeballs out
Because I had nothing else left.
She sat with me, told me she was a solicitor
That she could help me if I wanted her to.
I said ‘yes’ straight away
But there was a catch
I didn’t have the money to pay her.

She told me her name.
I felt comfortable straight away
She was English
A new friend and a solicitor.
She took me and my little girl to a cafe
Bought us tea and toast
I think she guessed that we were starving.

After some weeks, a letter arrived
I opened it with shaking hands
It said ‘Your appeal has been successful
And you’re entitled to Section Four Support’
I jumped up and down like a mad woman.
I sat and talked to my little girl
Who was just three months old
‘Shame on that Home Office officer
Who thought female asylum seekers
Are not entitled to accommodation or happiness’
But my little one was fast asleep
And I was talking to myself.