UK Government Excludes Migrant Women from Protections in Key Anti-Gender Violence Treaty

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As reported in the recent Human Rights Watch piece, “UK: Tackling Violence against Some Women, But Not All,” (July 22, 2022), although the United Kingdom government has just sworn to ratify the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women as of July 31, 2022, over a decade after its initial signing, this landmark measure is stained by the exclusion of migrant women from its protections.

Its reservation to Article 59 will force migrant women victims of domestic violence to continue to be reliant on their abusers for residency status, therefore “putting their health and lives at ongoing risk…without assured access to crucial support and a pathway to escape violence.”

Read excerpts from the piece to better understand the effects of this exclusionary treaty:

“Patel said the government will apply a reservation to Article 59 while awaiting the evaluation of the Support for Migrant Victims scheme, a pilot project introduced alongside the Domestic Violence Act of 2021 to support a limited number of women who cannot access public benefits. People on visas tied to spouses or fiancés have “No Recourse to Public Funds” under the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999, making them ineligible for most government benefits, which often includes refuge spaces.

The Support for Migrant Victims scheme, which concluded in March, was roundly criticized by key organizations led by-and-for Black and minoritised and migrant women as “wholly inadequate” both in scope and in substance to meet the needs of migrant women victims of violence.

Significant evidence already points to the need for greater protections for migrant women victims of violence with precarious residency status. In research by the Latin American Women’s Rights Service, 62 percent of migrant women in London surveyed said their abusers had threatened deportation if they reported the abuse to authorities.
Southall Black Sisters, which ran the Support for Migrant Victims Scheme, has reported that over 60 percent of women seeking their assistance have insecure immigration status. Research from the office of the Domestic Abuse Commissioner for England and Wales highlights that women in such circumstances are less likely to seek or benefit from services or escape abuse.

The UK has long positioned itself as a champion of tackling violence against women and girls internationally, but has faced mounting evidence of inadequate prevention, response, and accountability measures domestically and failure to prioritize combating it at home.”

Read the complete article here.


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