Sanskriti Sanghi

Legal Challenge – Protection for Migrant Victim-Survivors

Help us Protect Migrant Women Victim-Survivors of Domestic Violence

No victim-survivor of domestic violence should be left without support because of their immigration status. 

The Public Interest Law Centre is acting on behalf of Southall Black Sisters and Latin American Women’s Rights Service to challenge the government’s failure to protect thousands of migrant victim-survivors of domestic violence, the vast majority women, who face a stark choice between remaining trapped in abuse and destitution and deportation.

“Despite extensive campaigning efforts by our organisations, the current government policy continues to leave too many migrant women unprotected and without access to lifesaving emergency accommodation.

We believe the Government’s current arrangements are inhumane and unlawful. We urgently need your support. Help us raise £7,500 to protect us from Home Office costs if our challenge is unsuccessful. Otherwise, as grassroots organisations, we will be unable to bring this important claim.” 

Failure to provide an adequate safety net

During the passage of the Domestic Abuse Bill through parliament in 2020-21, Southall Black Sisters and Latin American Women’s Rights Service led a campaign that demanded:

  1. Protection and support for all abused women with insecure immigration status, including a route to regularisation.
  2. Extension of interim support arrangements to enable the above.

The government claimed there was not enough data about the needs of migrant women and set up a pilot project instead to assess the level of need and to inform decisions on longer-term funding. Three years later, with the project now evaluated independently and other studies published, the government is showing no sign of implementing these reasonable demands.

Instead, following three years of gathering data on the issue, the government finally published a new policy on 16 February 2024 – the Migrant Victims of Domestic Abuse Concession. Unfortunately, the policy is completely inadequate for those it is supposed to protect.

Even worse, the policy excludes large numbers of migrant victim-survivors from its scope. The “safety net” arrangements for those who are excluded is too small to reach anywhere near the numbers who need it. The safety net arrangements supported only 425 women in 2021-22 despite the several thousand people needing its protection – the Domestic Abuse Commissioner estimates the number in need to be in excess of 7,000.

How are PILC supporting SBS and LAWRS?

We have written to the Home Office stating that its arrangements for the protection of migrant victim-survivors of domestic violence, who currently fall outside the Migrant Victims of Domestic Abuse Concession, are unlawful on the following grounds:

  1. They breach the Home Office’s duties under human rights law to have proper legal and other measures in place to provide victim-survivors of domestic violence with effective protection and safeguards from domestic abuse.
  2. They discriminate against such victim-survivors of domestic violence on the grounds of sex and immigration status, without lawful justification.
  3. They breach its duties under equality laws as there is no indication that the Home Office assessed the impact on those with protected characteristics of the current arrangements for migrant victim-survivors of domestic abuse, in accordance with the Public Sector Equality Duty.
  4. The policy is over rigid in that it contains fixed criteria which exclude the possibility that deserving cases that fall outside the criteria may warrant support.

More information about the case can be accessed here.

Why we need your support

The Government is committed to creating a ‘hostile environment’ for migrants, whatever the circumstances. We believe that legal action may be the only way to force the Home Office to support and protect all migrant women victim-survivors of domestic violence regardless of their immigration status.

The legal team is working on this challenge at no cost to Southall Black Sisters or Latin American Women’s Rights Service. However, should the court decide to reject their claim – even part of it – these grassroots organisations will likely have to pay the Government’s legal fees of many thousands of pounds.

Please donate anything you can afford to help protect Southall Black Sisters and Latin American Women’s Rights Service in their fight to make sure that no one is excluded from seeking protection upon fleeing abuse.

All funds raised will go towards protecting Southall Black Sisters and Latin American Women’s Rights Service from adverse legal costs should their challenge be unsuccessful. If they are successful, all money raised will be shared with them and ring-fenced for future legal action.

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