Sadiq Khan writes to Home Secretary: “it is unacceptable that women are fearful to report because of immigration status”

After policy meetings led by Step Up Migrant Women coalition members, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has sent a letter to Sajid Javid, Home Secretary to address safe reporting in police stations to all victims of abuse.

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Andrea, an Ecuadorian national and a survivor supported by LAWRS, spoke with The Independent on her experience of ongoing abuse and how her immigration status was used as a tool of coercion. On several occasions, the perpetrator called the Home Office to tell them they were no longer together as she held a dependent EEA family member visa. She received a letter from the Home Office telling her that her visa was revoked and she would face deportation.

“We’ve been left vulnerable. The non-molestation order lasted 10 months, and now we are living with him again. I’ve had panic attacks. My daughter can’t sleep. We feel unsafe, the social worker told me I had no rights because I’m not European. He has all the power. I’ve suffered and I am still suffering, and so is my child. She is traumatised. We just want to start again.”

In the letter, the mayor’s office outlined a series of measures that support SUMW’s call for victim’s rights ‘to be upheld above immigration control. He included the reinstatement of legal aid, financial support and safe accommodation and clear operational guidelines for the police to support victims with insecure immigration status.

Lucila Granda, director of LAWRS stated

“We constantly see cases where the abusers use the women’s insecure immigration status to control their victims.

“The hostile environment policies have led to this extremely dangerous situation where many victims of severe crimes are too afraid to go to the police. Their perpetrator is dangerous, but the police can be even more dangerous to them. 

“Perpetrators are hiding behind these policies and using them to abuse their victims. Because of these policies, there are less avenues for migrant women to find safety and support, and this has put a great pressure on specialist services working with migrant victims of violence.”

This is a step forward towards reaching the ‘firewall’ called for by migrant survivors and BME specialist organisations. The SUMW campaign will continue its work to affect the Domestic Violence and Abuse Bill in October so that migrant women’s voices are heard.

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