One year on #StepUpMigrantWomen, press release.

Latin American Women’s Rights Service (LAWRS)

Step Up Migrant Women

London, 01 November – The Step Up Migrant Women coalition is proud to celebrate the first anniversary of the #StepUpMigrantWomen (SUMW) campaign this 1st of November. The campaign is led by the Latin American Women’s Rights Service (LAWRS) and supported by over 34 organisations from the women and migrant sectors.

One year on.. #StepUpMigrantWomen has shed light on the work of specialist services in the women’s sector who demand the protection of all migrant women, particularly those who have insecure immigration status.  SUMW will continue to call for safe reporting so migrant women that face violence and exploitation can access safety, care and justice without fear of destitution, detention or deportation. In the following months, the campaign, in partnership with King’s College London (KCL), will launch a research interviewing 50 survivors of VAWG who hold insecure immigration status and their experiences reporting to the police.  

MPs such as Jess Phillips, Carolyn Harris, Caroline Lucas and Stella Creasy have also spoken out for the need of a ‘firewall’ between police and immigration enforcement. As well as the endorsement from at the Mayor of London Office:

“Agreed defined pathways are needed with Police officials to prioritise victims’ safety and support over immigration offences and adopt a ‘firewall’ in regard to sharing victims’ personal details and immigration officials”Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London


“‘Ensuring all victims regardless of their status can safely access routes to support and justice after experiencing violence and abuse is of the utmost importance. I commend LAWRS for the vital work they do to safeguard the rights of migrant women. #StepUpMigrantWomen” Claire Waxman, GLA Victim’s Commissioner


“LAWRS is proud to lead such an important and timely campaign, along with 34 supporting BME and human rights organisations. The current hostile environment breaches women’s rights and authorities must not turn a blind eye to the safety of migrant women and allow impunity perpetrators” – Illary Valenzuela-Oblitas, LAWRS, Violence Against Women and Girls Policy and Communications Co-ordinator

“As a BME specialist service, we understand the realities of migrant women coming to our service. Experiences around the fear of reporting abuse to the police and the ways in which abusive partners and their families use the survivor’s insecure immigration status as a mechanism of control. A firewall is vital to reinstate trust in the police and essential to safeguard women at risk of further abuse”-Deniz Ugur, director at Imece Women’s Centre. 

We support calls for a firewall between the police and the Home Office. Crucially, the police are not support agencies, and front-line providers must receive robust resourcing in order to continue providing a coordinated and appropriate response framework which will enhance reporting.”Leah Cowen, Imkaan, Policy and Communications Co-ordinator


This is video produced by Gal-dem and filmed by survivors with insecure immigration status: Mafalda and Angela Camacho:




Latin American Women’s Right Service (LAWRS)

Illary Valenzuela Oblitas, Policy Coordinator 07922058126


About Step Up Migrant Women (SUMW)

Step Up Migrant Women UK is a migrant and BME women-led campaign which aims to secure safe reporting mechanisms for victims of crime with insecure immigration status. The campaign was set up by the Latin American Women’s Rights Service (LAWRS) and is supported by over 34 organisations from the women and migrant sectors.


About Latin American Women’s Rights Service (LAWRS)

LAWRS is a user-led, feminist and human rights organisation focused on addressing the practical and strategic needs of Latin American migrant women displaced by poverty and violence. Founded in 1983, LAWRS’ mission is to to provide Latin American migrant women with tools to assert our rights, and pursue personal empowerment and social change. We directly support more than 5,000 women annually through culturally and linguistically specialist advice, information, counselling and psychotherapy, advocacy, development programmes, and workshops.

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