Today (Tuesday 28 April) the Domestic Abuse Bill will have its Second Reading in Parliament. Ahead of this Reading, EVAW is asking MPs to recognise the need for the Bill to include a non-discrimination principle in line with the Istanbul Convention. You can read a briefing about the need for a principle of non-discrimination in the Bill here.
The Istanbul Convention is seen as the international “gold standard” in responding to violence against women and the principle of protection without discrimination on any grounds, including migrant and refugee status, is one of its core principles. Despite the Government seeking to ratify the Istanbul Convention with the Bill, it is clear that without enshrining non-discrimination and taking positive steps to ensure all survivors can access protection equally, the UK will not be fully compliant.
EVAWis calling for an amendment to the Bill that would introduce a statutory duty on public authorities to ensure that services and support are accessible to all victims of domestic abuse, without discrimination on any grounds, including migrant status, in accordance with Article 4(3) of the Istanbul Convention. EVAW has developed proposed text for this amendment, working with the EHRC, SafeLives, and Barnardo’s, and in consultation with the specialist VAWG and children’s sectors.
The need for a principle of non-discrimination is one of the recommendations put forward by the Step Up Migrant Women Coalition. The Domestic Abuse Bill is a crucial opportunity to transform the response to domestic abuse for all victims and survivors now and in the future, but in its current form neglects the situation and urgent needs of women and children with insecure immigration status who are effectively excluded from the current system. It is for this reason that the Step Up Migrant Women Coalition have made the following recommendations for amending the Bill:
- Ensure all survivors of domestic abuse can equally access support, welfare systems and legal tools that provide protection from abuse, without discrimination on any grounds, in accordance with the language in Article 4(3) and fundamental principle of the Istanbul Convention.
- Amend the Bill to include a provision establishing safe reporting mechanisms for survivors accessing vital public services, so they can safely report abuse to the police, social services, health professionals and others with confidence they will be treated as victims and without fear of immigration enforcement.
- Abolish the No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) condition for victims of domestic abuse and ensure all women are able to access vital, often life-saving support and routes to safety; and extend eligibility for the existing Domestic Violence (DV) Rule.
These recommendations, including EVAW’s call for services and support to be accessible to all survivors without discrimination in accordance with the Istanbul Convention, are also part of the joint key recommendations put forward by the specialist VAWG sector.