EVAW has been clear on the need for migrant women to be included in any Domestic Abuse bill and last week celebrated the launch of the Step Up Migrant Women campaign’s report ‘The Right To Be Believed’ by Latin American Women’s Rights Service (LAWRS) and King’s College London. 78% of the migrant women in the research had experienced intimate partner violence and 62% of the women said the abuser had threatened deportation with 54% being told they would lose their visa if they reported. More than half of the women (54%) felt they wouldn’t be believed by the police because of their immigration status, and the 14 women with undocumented status had experienced the most diverse range of different types of violence both inside and outside the home.
The findings underpin the importance of ending the hostile environment policies and upholding human rights above immigration enforcement. The recommendations are here and include the need to:
- Ensure that the Domestic Abuse Bill fully complies with the Istanbul Convention
- Ensure safe reporting for migrant victims
- End data sharing and establish a ‘firewall’ between victim’s support services and immigration enforcement
As a result of campaigning to ensure migrant women are included and provided for in any Domestic Abuse bill a closed session was also held before Caroline Noakes MP (Minister of state for Immigration), Victoria Atkins MP (Minister for Women) and Edward Argar MP (Under Secretary for Justice). Imkaan, Southall Black Sisters and EVAW gave evidence, and a group migrant women who are survivors of domestic abuse spoke powerfully about their experiences.
Across April and May the Joint Committee on the Draft Domestic Abuse Bill has been taking oral evidence, across seven sessions. Many of our members have spoken to the Committee among them Respect, AVA, Women’s Aid, Centre for Women’s Justice, LAWRS, Women for Refugee Women, Welsh Women’s Aid, and it has also heard from a group of survivors, some of whom were migrant women, about their experiences and of accessing support. We now await their report and final recommendations.
Despite the times of political uncertainty and changes in government we need to ensure the agenda to tackle Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) is not set back. With such high prevalence of domestic abuse, sexual violence and other forms of VAWG it needs to be taken seriously by our political leadership.