We’re extremely disappointed that the Government has chosen not to implement crucial findings called on by the Women and Equalities Committee’s (WEC) So-called Honour Based Abuse report. SBS joined the group of experts giving evidence to the Committee for this report, sharing the experiences of our service users and our recommendations from over 40 years of frontline and campaigning work tackling honour-based abuse. That the government has chosen to disregard recommendations of this report pertaining to migrant victims with insecure immigration status does not inspire confidence in the government’s commitment or ability to tackle honour-based abuse.
In their response to the Committee’s ‘So Called Honour-Based Abuse’ report, the government rejected a recommendation for a firewall on data sharing between the police and Immigration Enforcement, long called for by and for organisations supporting migrant victims to encourage victims of abuse to come forward, report crime and seek help without the fear of arrest, detention and deportation. Instead, while stating that migrant honour-based abuse victims are ‘victims first and foremost’ the government once again showed their contradictory preoccupation with immigration offences and insist that data sharing is necessary to prevent these crimes and even ‘safeguard’ victims! In any case, they say a firewall ‘would not prevent a perpetrator referring a victim directly to immigration enforcement’. This approach only serves to reinforce the perpetrator’s power to weaponise women’s immigration status rather than safeguard and support victims to tackle honour based abuse!
The campaign for a firewall, led by Latin American Women’s Rights Service with the support of Southall Black Sisters are calling for the total separation of data sharing between statutory agencies and Immigration Enforcement, which cannot safeguard victims as their function is to enforce immigration controls. The Government’s proposed Immigration Enforcement Migrant Victims Protocol cannot therefore be supported as it will still share personal data which will put victims at risk.
In their response, the Government has also chosen not to respond to the Committee’s recommendation to consider extending the Destitution Domestic Violence Concession (DDVC) and Domestic Violence Indefinite Leave to Remain (DVILR) rules which are crucial measures to support migrant victims with No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF), and to remove the reservation on article 59 of the Istanbul Convention (IC) on migrant women. It also did not consider implementing Banaz’s Law which would make the use of honour as a defence an aggravating factor in sentencing.