Sunday, May 27, 2007

Stop Removal of Janipher Maseko, 18 year old breastfeeding mother

Breastfeeding supporter colleagues of mine have been involved in helping Janipher Maseko, an 18 year old Ugandan woman who is currently being held in Yarls Wood Immigration Detention Centre. She has two babies, aged 15 months and 4 weeks. The tiny baby is being breastfed. She has been told that she will be removed from the UK without her children on Friday 1st June.

Janipher sought asylum as an unaccompanied minor after coming to this country as an orphan and after being raped in Uganda. Her asylum claim had been closed in March 2007 when she was heavily pregnant. Hillingdon Social Services, responsible for her at the time, immediately stopped all support and evicted her and her baby daughter. Staff at Hillingdon Hospital had to press Social Services to rehouse her. But at the end of April, a week after her son was born, she was evicted her again and threw away all her belongings. Ms Maseko tried to reach a friend in Brighton and was sleeping rough in Crawley when passers-by found her and called the police. Sussex Social Services put her babies into foster care even though she was breastfeeding her infant son and there was no cause to doubt her fitness and eagerness to care for her children - Ms Maseko needed shelter, money and healthcare. No arrangements were made to help her keep in touch with her children. Still bleeding after childbirth and with engorged breasts, Ms Maseko was held in a cell for four days without a shower or change of clothes.

When my colleagues went to see her, they were refused permission to give her an electric breast pump, the most efficient way of maintaining lactation and also of relieving the intense discomfort from the engorgment she was suffering and they were only able to get a manual pump to her after some discussion.

The children were reunited with her after the intervention of advocates on her behalf including the Black Women's Rape Action Project.

I am horrified at such brutal and inhuman treatment of this young mother and her children. How can it be justified to deport a mother to a country where she has fled rape and violence and has no family to help her and leave her babies here? How can a supposedly civilised government treat human beings in this way?

She is getting legal and practical help, but the more people who can raise awareness of her plight over the next few days the better.

Below are some ways in which you can to support Janipher and ensure she and her children can build their lives in the UK:

1. Urge that Ms Maseko and her children be immediately released, housed, supported and granted asylum, and that there be a prompt independent investigation into her treatment by all those in authority who were responsible for her care. Fax or email your letter to:· Liam Byrne MP, Minister of State for Immigration, Nationality and Citizenship, Fax: 020 7035 4745 ·

Meg Munn MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Women and Equality)Fax: 020 7944 5891·

Beverley Hughes MP, Minister for Children, Young People & FamiliesFax:020 7219 2961 ·

Patricia Hewitt MP, Secretary of State for Health, Fax: 020 7210·

Brian Pollett, Head of Detention Services, ·

Victoria Jones, Director of Yarl's Wood, Fax: 01234 821152

2. Alert your networks, the press and other media.

3. Write to your MP as a concerned constituent asking her/him to raise it in Parliament.


john said...

Hundreds of women are maltreated in the UK every year in a similar manner through the removal of their newborn babies at or close to birth merely to feed the adoption industry.

Caron said...

Unless there is a clear risk to the child, then there is no excuse for separating them from their mother, ever.

Anonymous said...

Seperate removal orders have now been issued for both children. The health risks to the little 4 week old boy, in being deported to a foreign country with a mother who has no support, are obvious.

Thank you for your help - Janipher thanks you for her help. Please try and propagate the onformatin on Janipher as much as you can - we need more letters flooding into Downign Street, if we are help replair the appalling damage the UK Government have inflicted upon this little family.

thank you.

Morgan Gallagher

Caron said...

Thank you for the update, Morgan. It seems insane to deport such a vulnerable young family. It's totally irresponsible to take someone in and then just drop them the minute they reach 18.

Also, as you are calling for an independent enquiry into the way Janipher has been treated, clearly she needs to be here to give evidence.

Realistically, what would their lives be like back in Uganda - I think people need to understand how terrible it would be for them.

Helen Butler said...

She says there is no work and even graduates are faced with sellig things in the market place just to survive. She has qualified to train as a nurse, and wants to work.

It is vitally important that she gives her evidence, she has been badly treated by so many agencies.
Helen Butler

Anonymous said...

As of a few moments ago, it looks like Janipher and the children will be taken back by Hillingdon Social Services and cared for until everything is worked out legally. Janipher is afraid of returning to the Social Services' people who treated her so badly, but those in power have assured her she will be treated well. Apparently, the legislation means she has to be returned to Hillingdon.

The lawyers are working to make sure she is safe from being snatched back by Immigration at any point - presumably when the fuss dies down. Here's hoping common humanity, and common sense, means the home Offfice will see fit to give her leave to stay indefinitely.

It's important we all recognise how often this sort of thing is happening. Janipher caught our hearts as it was so creul to take a baby from his mother's breast - but many other women are being torn from children, or having their children thrown on planes with them.

We, the UK people, are creating stateless infants, born in our shores, some to mothers here legally at the time of birth - such as Janipher - and then sending them out to hostile countries. We make them stateless, we send them to places that are dangerous to them.

Every. Single. Day.

_We_ send them - _we_ must act to stop it happening in our name.

Janipher continues to need you to put direct pressure put on the Government - she needs to know she will not be thrown out in the future. Her children need to know if they will ever see the inside of a classroom.

Morgan Gallagher


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