Southall Black Sisters welcomed the visit to the UK by the UN Rapporteur on Violence against Women (VAW) whose main focus was violence in the family; in the community; violence perpetrated or condoned by the State such as in detention, State security forces and in the transnational sphere. We presented a lengthy written submission based on our experiences of working on issues of gender based violence against black and minority ethnic (BME) women in the UK for the last 35 years.
Southall Black Sisters’ submission outlined the atrocious cut backs to Legal Aid and its effects and the ongoing effects of regressive government policies and austerity measures which result in cut backs in resources and shutting down of crucial specialist services. SBS stated that there is a complete lack of co-ordinated approach to violence against black and minority ethnic women at the State level; there is an urgent need to map the prevalence of all forms of violence against women and girls in BME communities across the UK. There is little or no recognition in social policy of the ways in which BME women experience gender-based violence across a number of strands of inequality which combine to produce a greater intensity of the experience of discrimination than that created by any one inequality strand.
In addition, SBS outlined the effects of the rise of religious identities and their regressive impact on minority women’s rights. The UN Special Rapporteur’s two week visit resulted in Rashida Manjoo stating that as “a common consensus in all the locations I visited is that the justice system as a whole is not equipped or responsive to addressing the specific needs of women and girl survivors of violence”.