Thursday, February 24, 2005


Brrrrrrrr it's cold. And slippy.

Edited to add: and you can buy some of it here.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Marvels of Animation.

For a short while I have been compiling a list of great animations on the web. I listed them in a fairly basic html file and it was only ever intended for my own reference purposes.

However, the list is rather marvellous (though I do say so myself... ;) ) and I figured I may as well let others know about it.

The animations created for songs are fun, the Dragostea Din Tei ones are particularly fab and addictive. The usual - and unusual - collection of flash animations are guaranteed to cheer you up, as are other selected animations. The Cleverness section is full of pretty clever things (?!), Mo Kin I just adore, and the music without animation had to go in there, because Fitness to Practice are marvellous, with songs such as Paracetamoxyfrusebendroneomycin, London Underground, and The Drugs Song. Seriously, go listen.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Doreen Kyomugihsa Update.

Following this and this, there is some good news.

Dear Friends,

"We are delighted to report that Doreen Kyomugihsa was freed on bail yesterday (details of full case below). She was very unwell when she was released at 5pm and improved as the evening went on. Charges of “deception” and “failing to produce an immigration document or passport” are still outstanding against her and she is due back in court on 9 March 2005 for a committal hearing.

Ms Kyomugisha send her thanks to everyone who visited and sustained her in other ways while she was in Bronzefield and who sent kind letters of support and/or wrote or called Harriet Harman about her situation. When we spoke to the Home Office they knew about the case and said they had received many faxes. We would be glad to know what the HO said to you when you contacted them. And, as we are also gathering copies of the letters which were sent on behalf of Ms Kyomugisha so that she can see the wonderful support she received from around the country, we would be glad if you can fax us a copy on 020 7209 4761.

Many thanks also to the lawyers who did a good job and to the churchman who stood bail. Sixteen women, many of whom had travelled up to two hours across rush-hour London to be at the court in time. The majority were from the All African Women’s Group (AAWG), an organisation of women asylum seekers based at the Crossroads Women’s Centre and some had themselves been detained in similarly devastating circumstances. The public gallery was full and this clearly had a big impact on the District Judge who was not initially inclined to grant bail. The case took all day.

Many of the women from the AAWG are living on National Asylum Support System (NASS) benefits (70% of poverty rate benefits) or are destitute and have absolutely no income at all. Money for fares and food for sandwiches came from the emergency legal fund administered by Legal Action for Women (LAW). With the additional expenses of phone calls (particularly mobiles) and copying etc, the total cost was approximately £230 which is a big drain on our resources for just one day in court. For those of you who have asked what further help is needed, we would very much appreciate a donation, as generous as you can, to cover these costs and to help towards the expenses not only of fighting the rest of Doreen's case, but also for those of other women seeking asylum who come every day for help to the Centre where we are based.

Please send cheques to Women in Dialogue (Asylum Appeal), who will pay over the donations to LAW. Women in Dialogue (WinD) is the registered charity running the Crossroads Women's Centre where BWRAP and LAW are based. If you sign the Gift Aid Declaration below and return it with your donation, WinD can claim back the tax paid on it, increasing the value of the donation. Alternatively and much appreciated, you can arrange to make a regular donation to support our work by standing order.

The committal hearing on 9 March is at 9.45am in Bromley Magistrates Court. Please come along to support if you are able.

Best wishes,

Cristel Amiss,

Black Women's Rape Action Project

For information about our work with Black and immigrant women and other women of colour, including asylum seekers,visit: and

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Letter to Harriet Harman.

Following my previous post, this is the email I sent to Harriet Harman.


Subject: ASC/502B67

Ms Kyomugisha's Home Office reference ASC/502B67

Dear Ms Harman,

I am writing to you because I am deeply concerned about the situation
of Ms Doreen Kyomugisha, which I have heard about from the Black
Women's Rape Action Project.

Doreen Kyomugisha is 17 years old (as confirmed by health
professionals) and was born in Rwanda. She lost her parents at a young
age. She was later raped many times, and eventually trafficked to

However, instead of helping this young woman who desperately needs
protection and support, police have charged her with entering the UK
as a refugee using "deception" and "failure to produce an immigration
document or passport which is in force and satisfactorily establishes
[your] identity, nationality or citizenship." She was refused bail
and imprisoned.

She is now in Bronzefield Women's Prison and is deeply traumatised.
She cannot eat and now weighs a worrying 7.1 stone.

Ms Harman, you yourself recently stated that there would be a
Europe-wide crackdown on trafficking, improvements to protection, and
you clarified that "it is the trafficked people who are the victims."

I understand that there will be a bail application tomorrow, and I
would offer absolute support for bail to be awarded.

At the very least she must be released so that she can work closely
with Legal Action for Women and her legal team to clear her name
against these malicious charges, brought on the basis of "evidence"
which has not been scrutinised or verified.

I understand that Home Office policy indicates that charges of failing
to produce valid documents when entering the country should not be
used against a minor. On this basis alone a proper assessment of her
age should have been done, taking into consideration the social
services assessment and the prosecution should not have been brought.

This shocking treatment of a vulnerable child makes a travesty of any
pronouncements that the authorities are sensitive to rape survivors
and that young people claiming asylum or victims of trafficking
receive a caring response.

I am writing to you to ask you to do all you can you ensure that the
unfair and inappropriate charges against Ms Kyomugisha are dropped,
and that she is offered help and support, not further trauma and

Yours sincerely,


From Black Women’s Rape Action Project.

Please take action in urgent support of Ms Doreen Kyomugisha, a 17-year old rape victim from Rwanda (see below). Ms Kyomugisha escaped from her trafficker last October and turned up on the doorstep of the Women’s Centre where we are based. After months of intensive counseling and support, she was beginning to recover from a nightmare of losing her parents through illness and war at the age of 11, being raped by many men for money in several African countries for over two years and finally trafficked to London. Instead of finding the safety and protection she urgently needs, last Wednesday she was charged with entering the UK as a refugee using “deception” and “failure to produce an immigration document or passport which is in force and satisfactorily establishes [your] identity, nationality or citizenship.” She was refused bail and imprisoned.

As the Home Office disputes her age, Ms Kyomugisha is on remand in Bronzefield Women’s Prison where she is deeply traumatised by the imprisonment. Conditions (in this privatised prison) are totally inappropriate for such a vulnerable child. Visitors report a drastic deterioration in her mental and physical health. She is so upset that she is unable to eat (as well as suffering from an eating disorder) and has been given no suitable food[. As a result her weight has dropped 2kg in just two days from an already low 48kg. She speaks of suicide, often retches during visits, is in constant pain and has panic attacks. She is heavily medicated and being held on her own in a hospital wing, deprived of the company of others who might look out for her; she has not been allowed her own clothes or homeopathic medicine; cards sent to her have not been delivered.

Last week, Solicitor General Harriet Harman, launched a European wide crackdown on trafficking claiming to improve protection and saying “. . . it is the trafficked people who are the victims.” Does Ms Kyomugisha’s brutal treatment indicate what “protection” victims can expect? Will the people who pressed for stronger anti-trafficking legislation speak out against how it is being used by the government to criminalise and deport immigrant people and asylum seekers?

Everyone who knows Ms Kyomugisha, from members of the All African Women’s Group of which she has become an active member, church representatives to health professionals, are appalled at the way she has been treated and are rallying support for a bail application on Wednesday 16 February. At the very least she must be released so that she can work closely with Legal Action for Women and her legal team to clear her name against these malicious charges, brought on the basis of “evidence” which has not been scrutinised or verified. We understand that HO policy indicates that charges of failing to produce valid documents when entering the country should not be used against a minor. On this basis alone a proper assessment of her age should have been done, taking into consideration the social services assessment and the prosecution should not have been brought.

As the authorities prioritise implementing repressive immigration controls over women and children’s safety and welfare, this shocking treatment of a vulnerable child makes a travesty of any pronouncements that the authorities are sensitive to rape survivors and that young people claiming asylum or victims of trafficking receive a caring response.

Please help Ms Kyomugisha by:
  • Writing and calling Harriet Harman and the Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith, to demand Ms Kyomugisha is immediately released from prison and all charges against her are dropped. Please cite Ms Kyomugisha’s Home Office reference ASC/502B67 and send by email to: &; fax 0207 271 2430 or post to Attorney General’s Office, Buckingham Gate, 9 Buckingham Gate, London SW1E 6JP. Tel: Harriet Harman 0207-219 2057.

  • Supporting her application for bail. Please send letters to BWRAP ( for forwarding to the court.

  • Attending court for her bail hearing – 9.45 Wednesday 16 February, Bromley Magistrates Court, London Road, Bromley, Kent.

  • Contacting Bronzefield Prison Governor Janine McDowell, Tel: 01784 425 690; Fax 01784 425 691 urging that Ms Kyomugisha be given healthy food, her own clothes and homeopathic medicine as an urgent priority.

Please contact us if you can help in other ways or need more information.

Black Women’s Rape Action Project, Tel: 020 7482 2496, Fax 020 7209 4761



In October 2004, Ms Kyomugisha was brought to the Crossroads Women’s Centre where we are based, by a woman who found her distressed and traumatised at a bus station. Over a period of several days, Ms Kyomugisha was able to tell us a little of what happened to her. She was born in 1987 in Rwanda. Both her parents died when she was 11. When she was 15, her relatives sent her to Congo Brazzaville with a man who forced her to have sex with men for money which he kept. She was brought to England by an African man who told the immigration authorities that she was his niece. He kept her locked up somewhere in London and forced her to have sex with several men. She managed to escape from him when he drove her to a house to see one of his clients and left her alone in his car.

We have been counselling and supporting Ms Kyomugisha, including by securing legal representation for her asylum claim and for housing and support. It is clear that she is still a child. She remains traumatised by everything that has happened to her and feels very vulnerable and at risk of possible reprisals from the man who brought her into the country.

The Home Office in Croydon was hostile and unsympathetic from the beginning. On her first visit to claim asylum Ms Kyomugisha was interrogated by security guards who were abusive and began questioning her in detail about her claim before allowing her into the building. She was interviewed in a public place about rape and other sexual violence using a male translator and witnessed vicious questioning of other young girls.

Camden Asylum Seekers Team assessed Ms Ms Kyomugisha and provide housing and support on the basis that she is an unaccompanied minor. Health professionals have also assessed her as being no more than 17 years old. Ms Kyomugisha attends our self-help sessions, and was improving her English as well as learning computer and typing skills.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Have a 'Lynne Truss' at this sign, spotted in Sheffield Station this morning... Posted by Hello

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Here Comes the Bride...

Well, it seems that Charles and Camilla are getting married. I worked that out due to the flurry of discussions on radio 4 since I woke up. Including an extended news programme. It all was making this huge presumption that I actually care.

Of the people picked off the street to be asked what they thought, there were several themes. There was
  • Argh! How can he betray the memory of Diana?

  • Okay, but if he does re-marry he shouldn't be King

  • I don't care

  • Go for it Charlie
With regards to the first one - this bizarre, continual, illogical adoration of Lady Di, my response is a kind of tutting, raising eyes to heaven type thing. As for remarrying but rescinding his place as next in line to the throne - I don't really understand that. I mean, I wish we had no monarchy, and would be very jolly indeed if it was abolished, but seeing as that is not happening, Charles is next to be King, whether divorced, re-married, transvestite, or Boyzone fan. I don't want a king, but as I'll be lumbered with one almost certainly, his marital status doesn't bother me in the least.

With the 'I don't care' lot, I absolutely relate. And those who encourage him - that's fine. He and Camilla have, by all accounts, been together for a long, long time. I'm no huge fan of marriage, but it has nothing to do with me whether they do or not.

One person who was vox popped (?!) said something along the lines of, "I don't care, as long as I don't have to pay for it". I agree. And we will have to anyway.

On the news there has been lots of, 'They're getting married, but Camilla won't be Queen, she'll be Princess such-and-such'. Again, I don't care hugely, but there's an underlying suggestion that Diana should have been Queen because she was beautiful, and Camilla just isn't beautiful enough to play that role.

But the dedication to Diana's memory which is still so strongly felt amongst many, I cannot really get my head round. It's what? 8 years since she died? She was a nice women, somewhat dysfunctional (like the best of us), did lots of good things, and had a ridiculous amount of money. Let it go, now.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Scores, Societies and Support.

I made a Quiz. How Well Do You Know Hippie? and then you check the Scoreboard!

Go see!

On Womans' Hour this morning there was a report on women affected by the Tsunami.
In the coastal area of Lampuuk only 20% of the population survived, and only a fraction of them were women.
There was an interesting discussion, and as happens so often, things I had never thought of came up.

I had imagined in vivid detail the losses of family, homes, jobs, security, friends, which came when the tsunami hit. On this programme the women talked about how they were scared they would lose their local culture too. So many people had died, taking local cultural knowledge and skills with them. And now the few older women still alive there are doing their best to pass on the cultural traditions to the younger survivors, so they don't entirely disappear.

And on a separate, but very important issue, there is a free Women's Aid 24 Hour National Domestic Violence Helpline on 0808 2000 247. More on the issue soon, but that info is there for now.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Sunday Funday.

A few days ago I linked to the rather fabulous Numanuma video. Then blatherblog liked it and linked back to me, and then added a link to the original song. Then in the comments section, was posted a link to a Japanese animation version too, called Maiyahi by ikari.


It seems to be called Dragostea Din Tei, by O-Zone, by the way.

Incidentally, this is complete madness! (Explanation here.)

Thursday, February 03, 2005

The King Asked the Queen

And the queen asked the dairy maid,
'Could we have some butter for the royal slice of bread?'
The queen asked the dairy maid. The dairy maid said,
'Certainly. I'll go and tell the cow now before she goes to bed.'
The dairy maid, she curtsied and went and told the cow,
'Don't forget the butter for the royal slice of bread.'
The cow said sleepily, 'You'd better tell his Majesty
that many people nowadays like marmalade instead.'

The dairy maid said, 'Fancy!' and went to her Majesty.
She curtsied to the queen and she turned a little red.
'Excuse me, your Majesty, for taking of the liberty,
but marmalade is tasty if it's very thickly spread.'
The queen said, 'Oh,' and went to his Majesty.
'Talking of the butter for the royal slice of bread,
many people think that marmalade is nicer.
Would you like to try a little marmalade instead?'

The king said, 'Bother!' Then he said, 'Oh, dear me!'
The king sobbed, 'Oh, dearie me,' and went back to bed.
'Nobody even could call me a fussy man.
I only want a little bit of butter for my bread.'

The queen said, 'There, there' and went to the dairy maid.
The dairy maid said, 'There, there' and went to the shed.
The cow said, 'There, there, I didn't really mean it.
Here's milk for his porridge and butter for his bread.'

The queen took the butter and brought it to his Majesty.
The king said, 'Butter, eh?' and bounced out of bed.
'Nobody,' he said as he kissed her tenderly,
'Nobody,' he said as he slid down the banisters,
'Nobody, my darling, could call me a fussy man.
But I do like a little bit of butter to my bread.'

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Sheffield Shtuff.

For a long period, whenever I was on the tram, at a certain stop in town, invariably somebody around me would say, "Isn't this where there used to be the hole in the road?"

This confused me regularly. What on earth kind of hole in the road was so memorable?

Some time later I discovered it looked like this, and I could see why it was indeed memorable enough to be mentioned so regularly. It is also well described here on

Waitrose gives us 15 Reasons to Visit Sheffield. I added my own list to the ensuing discussion.

I like Sheffield :)

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Good, Bad, Indifferent.

Fabulous word of the day - crepuscular.

Fabulous phrase of the day - 'the elephant of illogicality' - heard on the Radio 4 Six O'Clock News.

Crap evil news story of the day is this one.

Big boycott of the day is Boycott Tesco.

Powerful photo of the week is an Iraqi woman's victory sign with a purple finger.