In May 2019, LAWRS , Step Up Migrant Women coalition, along with the King’s College London published the research ‘Right to be Believed: Migrant women facing Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) in London.’
The study involved more than 60 women from 22 different countries living in the UK, as well as 10 supportive organisations based in London. All women in the study had been victims of VAWG.
Our research aimed to influence the legislative process of the Domestic Violence and Abuse Bill, as well as police forces, local authorities and the main organisations working in the field so that they can provide appropriate services and support to migrant women survivors of VAWG.
The barriers to report
Reporting to the police is not an easy task for migrant women. Living under the hostile environment means to live with sense of insecurity. Many factors act as barriers for victims to seek justice and support:
- Fear of not being believed because of insecure immigration status
- Fear of perpetrator
- Fear of deportation
- Fear of losing their children
- Lack of information
- Language and cultural challenges
Even when women do report, victims may face further complications. Our research showed that nearly half of women who were poorly treated who reported were denied support from the police.
From victims faced negative experiences when they report abuse to the police:
- 45% were denied support by the police when reporting
- Over a third of them were not believed by the police
Based on our findings, we call for the creation of a system which holistically protects and supports migrant women. This means ending hostile environment policies, delivering a sustainable model so that frontline services can offer adequate support to victims.