PRESS RELEASE: Domestic Abuse Bill to Discuss Migrant Women Having Access to Public Funds
PRESS RELEASE: Members of Parliament to vote on long-awaited amendments for Migrant Women
6 July 2020
Today, on Monday 6 July 2020, Parliament is expected to debate the Domestic Abuse (DA) Bill, as it reaches the Report Stage and its Third Reading. Jess Philips MP and others will be introducing amendments that will provide abused migrant women with a vital lifeline to safety.
The DA Bill presents us with a once-in-a-generation opportunity to provide safety and protection for all victims of domestic abuse. The litmus test for this Bill must be whether it protects the most vulnerable and marginalised, especially migrant women with No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF). In 2012, SBS secured the Destitution Domestic Violence concession (DDVC) which gives access to public funds for women on spousal visas for 3 months while they apply for indefinite leave to remain under the Domestic Violence Rule (DVR), which became part of the immigration rules in 2002. However, the DVR and DDVC do not apply to abused migrant women on non-spousal visas. These women and their children continue to find it difficult to obtain safe accommodation in a refuge and face destitution; a situation compounded by the Covid-19 crisis.
Having campaigned for many years for the right of abused migrant women to access protection, Southall Black Sisters (SBS) is urging MPs to use the Report Stage of the Bill as an opportunity to ensure that there is meaningful protection for all migrant women subject to abuse irrespective of their backgrounds. These measures include ensuring that all migrant women have access to basic safe accommodation and benefits, and an opportunity to regularise their stay in the UK as victims of domestic abuse.
You can read more about the experience of migrant women in our Domestic Abuse Bill briefing paper.
Pragna Patel, Director of Southall Black Sisters says:
“We are urging members of Parliament to use the Report Stage of the Bill to vote in favour of amendments for migrant women; amendments which will make a meaningful difference to the lives of some of the most vulnerable in our society. At a time when the Black Lives Matter movement is drawing much-needed attention to the glaring structural inequalities and injustices in our society, this Domestic Abuse Bill provides MPs with the chance to reject the continuation of a ‘hostile environment’ for victims of domestic abuse and to provide all women with access to safety and justice, irrespective of their background or immigration status. We cannot afford to create a discriminatory system of support based on assumptions about who is ‘deserving’ of protection and who is not. No woman chooses to be abused. They all deserve protection.”
Somiya Basar, a survivor supported by SBS, gave evidence to the DA Bill Committee. She says:
“The Domestic Abuse Bill is a chance to set things right for migrant women. I have faced discrimination in the UK compared to other women only because of my immigration status and the fact that I was not born here. My ex-husband has used these facts to isolate me from my children, and I am further denied the right to financially sustain myself, while my ex-husband prolongs the abuse through the British legal system. If nothing is done, there will be another generation of migrant women who continue to live in fear. I trust that this opportunity will not be wasted and that migrant women will be given the chance to live in dignity.”
Notes to Editors:
 The NRPF is a legal restriction imposed by the UK Border Agency on people subject to immigration control, preventing them from accessing most forms of welfare benefits and social housing. Breaching this condition puts a person’s current or future right to be in the UK at risk.
 On Monday 6 July, MPs will have the opportunity to vote for three vital amendments for the protection of migrant women:
- New Clause 22: Recourse to public funds for domestic abuse survivors.
This seeks to ensure that certain provisions under the Immigration Acts – including exclusion from public funds, certain types of support and assistance and the right to rent – do not apply to survivors of domestic abuse. There will be a review into the operation of this provision after 12 months of the Act being passed.
- New Clause 26: To enable domestic abuse survivors to apply for indefinite leave to remain. This clause would make provision in the immigration rules for the granting of indefinite leave to remain to migrant survivors of domestic abuse and limited leave to remain to a survivor who is eligible to make an application for indefinite leave to remain.
- New Clause 27: To protect domestic abuse survivors from data-sharing agreements without consent. This clause would require the Secretary of State to make arrangements to ensure that the personal data of migrant survivors of domestic abuse that is given or used for the purpose of their seeking or receiving support and assistance is not used for immigration control purposes.