THE BLOG
25/07/2013 08:35 BST | Updated 24/09/2013 06:12 BST

Why We Need Woman vs The State (UK)

As news spreads of how huge outsourcing companies like G4S are failing to deliver on public service contracts, a new project aims to tell the human story behind the headlines.

In the last few weeks, accounts of the outsourcing giant G4S' flailing track record to deliver on public service contracts have been exploding across our newspapers, blogs and screens.

Female asylum seekers evicted because firms contracted by G4S fail to pay rent. A G4S guard involved in the fatal restraining of a 15 year old gets promoted and 'secretly' applies to open a G4S private children's home. Rape Crisis concerned about contracts awarded to G4S to work with rape victims in Sexual Assault Referral Centres (SARCs).

Unfortunately, these are but some of the many stories highlighting the multiple failures of G4S and other corporate giants to deliver on their promises to UK taxpayers.

So when I was asked recently by UK social enterprise Kazuri to co-edit a new book seeking to tell the stories of women failed by privately-run public services, I didn't hesitate to get involved.

Woman vs The State (UK) highlights the stories behind the headlines, stories of women failed by the very systems that promised to protect them. Stories of women like Anna B, a Nigerian woman trafficked into the UK as a sex slave who fled her captors to seek asylum in 2010.

Anna and her young son were forced to move six times in six months as a result of the failure of a G4S subcontractor to pay their rent, electricity and utility bills.

She told the Guardian recently, "A lot of people are going through the same thing but they are scared to speak up. It's not right to treat people this way but no one listens to you if you are an asylum seeker."

Director of the project and founder of housing social enterprise Kazuri, Farah Damji, believes it is vital to reveal the stories of women who have been re-traumatised as a direct result of the actions of huge corporations like G4S and others.

"The health and wellbeing of women like Anna are being sold for private profit," says Farah.

"The increasing procurement of public services from the private sector is, in many cases, not only failing to protect traumatised and vulnerable women from further farm, but also frequently inflicting further trauma upon victims, survivors and their loved ones."

Farah is now asking women's organisations across the UK to come forward with their experiences of women who have experienced such failures, including in the criminal justice system, exile, secure hospitals, domestic violence shelters and sexual assault referral centres (SARCs).

These stories will be collected into a book, with individual stories presented anonymously in order to protect the identities and to prevent further distress to those involved.

The Woman vs The State book will include a foreword from Head of the Criminal Bar Association Michael Turner QC, and will be published by independent publisher Off_Press.

It will form part of the evidence base for a broader campaign calling for a formal public inquiry into the procurement, commissioning and monitoring of public services by large private sector companies, to be launched in the House of Lords in November.

"G4s was awarded a contract to provide social housing to asylum seekers, though it had no previous experience of doing so," said Farah.

"Given the repeated failings of G4S in delivering on its contracts - even those related to their core business of security, like the Olympics - I simply do not believe that that this is a company in whose 'care' vulnerable people are safe."

If you have a story to share with the Woman vs State (UK) project, get in touch for more information, or go to our website.