Theatre stars unite for reform of 'brutal' UK asylum system

Young Vic to stage play about life in notorious detention centre to show plight of women and child migrants

Stars of British theatre, film and television will tonight turn the spotlight on what they describe as the brutal treatment of women and children seeking asylum in the UK.

The award-winning actress Juliet Stevenson will lead the protest against conditions at the controversial Yarl's Wood immigration detention centre in Bedfordshire and the UK's treatment of Meltem Avcil, a 14-year-old Turkish asylum seeker.

Ms Stevenson, the star of the film Truly Madly Deeply, met Meltem and her mother Cennet in Yarl's Wood earlier this year and was so moved by the encounter that she decided to bring their stories, together with those of other asylum seekers, to life in a special Mother's Day performance at the Young Vic in London.

Ms Stevenson and her 13-year-old daughter Rosalind will perform in Motherland, a dramatisation of life in a British immigration detention centre. They will play the parts of Meltem Avcil and her mother, who were released from Yarl's Wood after a high-profile campaign.

"The brutality of the asylum process here is far more shocking than I realised," said Ms Stevenson. "I hope people will be moved. I think that if they really heard the forms of injustice and cruelty this system is inflicting on people perhaps they might be moved to take action. We can't bring everyone to Yarl's Wood but we can bring Yarl's Wood to more people," she added.

A celebrity line-up is expected to support the event, including the actresses Thandie Newton and Harriet Walter, the novelist Susie Boyt and the restaurateur Ruth Rogers. Alan Rickman, Stevenson's co-star in Truly Madly Deeply, Baroness (Helena) Kennedy QC and the former England cricket captain Mike Brearley are also lending support to the campaign for an improved, more humane detention system.

The event is being organised by Women for Refugee Women, which will urge supporters to sign a Mother's Day petition to be sent to ministers. The petition calls on the Government to "ensure that the persecution women face, including rape, honour crimes and female genital mutilation, is taken seriously in asylum claims; we call on the Government not to make destitute, detain or deport women who are at risk of gender-related persecution."

It demands that Harriet Harman, the minister for women and equality, "push for justice for women in the asylum process, including full implementation of the gender guidelines introduced in 2004; access to quality legal representation for every woman asylum seeker; and an end to the detention of families and survivors of torture".

Although Meltem and her mother are now free, their future is far from certain as the Government is understood to still be pressing for their deportation.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property Solicitor - Exeter

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: EXETER - A great new opportunity with real pot...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Private Client Solicitor - Exeter

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: EXETER - An outstanding senior opportunity for...

Sauce Recruitment: Retail Planning Manager - Home Entertainment UK

salary equal to £40K pro-rata: Sauce Recruitment: Are you available to start a...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower