On Sunday, November 24, 2019, the national day of mobilization against
violence against women, women activists gather in front of the Holsbeek
detention centre to support detained women.
At the intersection of several struggles, this “surprise” rally
denounces violence against migrant women, border violence and, more
generally, violence in the prison system.
Inaugurated on May 7, the Holsbeek detention centre was set up to hold
58 women whose papers were not the right ones. This former low-cost
hotel located at the end of an industrial zone currently houses about
thirty women. Women snatched from their families, from their lives. Many
of these migrant women have fled their country as a result of
gender-based violence: forced marriage, sexual mutilation, lesbophobia,
biphobia, transphobia, modern slavery, sexual exploitation, etc.
Deprived of their freedom for sometimes several months, they resist
institutional violence and state racism day after day, in total
invisibility. In endless waiting and under threat of deportation, they
live to the rhythm of the prison world. Uncertainty is gnawing away, the
distance from friends and families undermines morale, news is lacking,
health is failing, nerves are failing, hopes are finally disappearing.
Faced with this context of oppression, women prisoners are in solidarity
and organize themselves. It is to support their resistance that we are
gathering today in front of the centre.
The memory of Semira Adamu, a 20-year-old Nigerian girl murdered in 1998
by police officers on a plane is in everyone’s mind this Sunday morning.
History repeats itself: in November 2019 a woman was subjected to three
violent eviction attempts and despite a complaint, she was evicted on
She testifies after one of her eviction attempts: “They want to inject
me. Because they told me I was very strong, they promised me that next
week they would put me on a flight and give me an injection to make me
weak and sleep. That’s what they do to everyone at the center. And
they’re taking you to the airport. The first time they bring you back.
They take you the second time and bring you back. The third time they
have to inject you. And I’m so scared. Since then, no news of this young
woman has been communicated.
Closed centres and deportations dehumanize and endanger every day.
Borders kill. Women, men and children are subjected to this multiple
violence on a daily basis.
This system of confinement reinforces the criminalization of migrants.
Women activists on the ground are calling for an end to evictions,
closed centres and all violence against migrant women.