Today the government opened its consultation on a new Domestic Violence and Abuse Bill. SBS welcomes the Bill since it provides an opportunity for us to tell the government that we want a comprehensive law that works for all abused women irrespective of their background
In the wake of the ‘#MeToo’ and ‘#Time’s Up’ movements and against the backdrop of unprecedented worldwide feminist struggles for freedom and justice, this Bill provides a timely opportunity to the government to align the Bill to a broader vision of inclusion, human rights and equality.
This consultation comes at a time when we are rightly celebrating the centenary of the suffragette movement but it also comes at a time when migrant women, many of whom have experienced rape and other forms of gender-based violence and torture, are on hunger strike at Yarl’s Wood detention centre. They are fighting to be free from ill-treatment and inhumane detention. Far from being offered protection and support, the state treats them as criminals and de-humanises them by subjecting them to racism and further trauma. Even more worryingly, they are threatened with accelerated deportations for standing up for their rights. This kind of degradation has to stop. On a daily basis, we are witness to countless migrant women who are subject to violence but who have nowhere to go because they fear deportation and destitution. They are subject to many state-imposed restrictions that only serve to heighten their vulnerability to abuse and violence. This is why we say that if the Bill is to be meaningful, all migrant women abused in their homes, communities and workplaces must be placed at the front and centre of state protection.
We welcome many of the proposals to be included in the Bill but they do not go far enough. As an opening shot, we call on the government to make space for the voices and demands of the most marginalised women in our society. The following are just some of the issues we will be raising in our submission:
We look forward to the public conversations on these and other matters and sincerely hope that this time, the government will not lose the opportunity to turn its rhetoric on safety and support for all survivors into a reality.