Today (15.04.21) is the final chance for MPs to vote through amendments to the Domestic Abuse Bill that would ensure migrant women have equally effective protection and support. The Bill returns to the Commons after its passage through the House of Lords, with Peers on all sides of the House voting for three amendments that would mean migrant survivors of domestic abuse can access safety and justice:
- The establishment of safe reporting mechanisms, so victims can report domestic abuse safely without the fear of immigration control;
- The extension of eligibility for already existing provisions to protect migrant women, through the Domestic Violence Rule (DV Rule) and the Destitution Domestic Violence Concession (DDVC);
- Ensuring effective protection and support to all victims of domestic abuse by incorporating a non-discrimination clause in line with Article 4(3) of the Istanbul Convention.
The UK signed the Istanbul Convention, the international gold standard for preventing violence against women and girls, nine years ago, yet we have still not been able to ratify it. The Domestic Abuse Bill was supposed to bring the UK into compliance, but the Government must take the necessary steps to address the remaining hurdle to ratification – having provisions for migrant women. EVAW is proposing an amendment that would enshrine a non-discrimination principle in line with article 4(3). This would mean all survivors of domestic abuse can access equally effective protection and support regardless of their immigration status and ensure the full ratification of the Convention. More information on this amendment can be found here: EVAW DA Bill Briefing: Effective Protection and Support for all Victims of Domestic Abuse
This amendment has received widespread support in both the House of Commons and Lords, as well as the International Agreements Committee
which endorsed the amendment as a way to enable swift ratification of the Istanbul Convention. It would ensure all public authorities adopt a consistent and cohesive approach to making arrangements for victim protection. It addresses the risks of a post-code lottery approach to victim protection which is currently in place and enshrines the right of migrant victims to be treated first and foremost as victims.
The Government proposed the Migrant Victims Scheme pilot at Second Reading in the House of Commons, however it remains clear that this will create unnecessary delay. Instead, the Government could choose to adopt these three amendments proposed by the Step Up Migrant Women campaign and ensure that migrant women can access the support they need now. During the Migrant Victims of Domestic Abuse Review and throughout the Bill’s passage, specialist services led “by and for” Black and minoritised women have provided a wealth of evidence on the needs of migrant women survivors and the gaps in protection and support that the Domestic Abuse Bill should address.