Photo: Migrant Right’s Network hold placards for #StepUpMigrantWomen campaign
Step Up Migrant Women campaign launched on the 1st of November to demand a separation of immigration control and victims’ right to safety and protection. More than 26 organisations from the migrant, women and social justice sectors voiced the need for a firewall protecting migrant women survivors from the re-victimisation of immigration control.
Together, we reached almost half a million people in social media with messages in support of victims and survivors. Special thanks to our partner organisations: Migrant Rights Network, Imece and IRMO for collaborating in the campaign video.
On this same day, the All Parliamentary Party Group (APPG) on Domestic Violence chaired by MP Jess Phillips and organised by Women’s Aid, Southall Black Sisters and Rights of Women, met and discussed critically if the Domestic Violence and Abuse Bill would protect every woman fleeing an abusive relationship or situation.
Government’s announcements in the Queen’s Speech states that the bill is meant to “transform our approach to domestic violence and abuse to ensure that victims have the confidence to come forward and report their experiences, safe in the knowledge that the state and justice system will do everything it can to both support them and their children and pursue their abuser”. The SUMW campaign raised the question: do migrant women with insecure legal status and No Recourse to Public Funds fit within the universal applicability of the Bill?
If the bill serves the aim to create spaces where women can come forward and report abuse, priorities should lie in applying routes to safety such as safe-reporting mechanisms at police stations and within statutory services.
Migrant women fleeing violence are at a greater risk when they are not recognised as victims of violence but as immigration offenders. A survey by Imkaan in 2010 found that 40% of 183 women with insecure migrant status stayed in their abusive relationship for more than 5 years out of fear of deportation. An alarming 92% of these women reported threats of deportation from perpetrator. Today’s hostile environment has made it even more difficult for women fleeing violence to obtain support and shelter without facing persecution.
The major of London Sadiq Khan, has previously stated that the police is “duty bound” to report undocumented victims of crime to the Home Office. It also emerged recently that a victim of sexual violence and kidnapping was arrested by the Home Office as she disclosed the rape when seeking healthcare support.
The SUMW campaign demands for the recognition of the rights of all women to be able to safely report crimes, to ensure women’s right to dignity and safety of all migrant women regardless of their immigration status.
If you would like to support the campaign as an individual or as an organisation, please sign our Open Statement.