Karishma Dharni

SBS and LAWRS Reject the Home Office’s Migrant Victims of Domestic Abuse Review

Southall Black Sisters, the Latin American Women’s Rights Service (LAWRS) and other BME specialist organisations have for many years drawn attention to the gaps that currently exist in respect of state protection in immigration law and policy for migrant women facing abuse, including those with insecure immigration status and with No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF). Following the first consultation on the draft Domestic Abuse Bill in March 2018, we have focused our efforts on this particular area because the Bill represents a critical opportunity to redress the protection deficit. Our recent work also follows decades of submissions and representations made to successive governments on the desperate plight of abused migrant women.

In July 2019, the Government agreed to conduct a review of its overall response to migrant victims of domestic abuse. It stated that it would be: “taking careful account of evidence provided by stakeholders on this issue”. This followed the conclusions of the Joint Committee on the draft Domestic Abuse Bill in June 2019, which: ”…felt very strongly that it is…a missed opportunity to address the needs of migrant women who have no recourse to public funds.”

In the light of this, we were looking forward to the findings of the review in the hope that it would make recommendations that enshrine statutory protection for abused migrant women.

The review was finally published by the Home Office in July 2020, entitled: Migrant Victims of Domestic Abuse Review Findings. We are greatly disappointed by its failure to give proper consideration to the needs of migrant women, the evidence presented, and the measures required to ensure compliance with the non-discrimination principle of the Istanbul Convention. A lack of meaningful engagement with the available evidence has resulted in inaccurate, poor and misleading analysis. We therefore reject the Review’s conclusions and the Government’s position. Please see here for our formal response to the Review.

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