Heidi Allen MP has signed a letter calling for the government to introduce measures which ensure migrant women can access adequate protection.
Following the introduction of the draft Domestic Abuse Bill, Heidi and 21 MPs from across the house have written a letter to the Home Secretary, Sajid Javid. The cross-party letter raises the concerns of 22 MPs who believe the current draft Domestic Abuse Bill “neglects to address the specific needs of migrant women.”
The letter explains that migrant women find it “virtually impossible to access protection from the police or doctors for fear they will be reported to the Home Office and detained or even deported.” Furthermore, the MPs say that these women are faced with “a hopeless choice: homelessness, destitution, detention or deportation on the one hand, or returning home to a violent and abusive partner on the other.”
Commenting Heidi said “The Domestic Abuse Bill gives the government an opportunity to ensure that no woman is left behind because of the failings of a discriminatory system. It is paramount that the bill provides protection for everyone and that nobody feels their only option is to return to an abusive partner.”
You can read the full letter below:
“Dear Home Secretary,
Domestic abuse affects 2 million people – mostly women – every year. As MPs, we’ve all met constituents who’ve experienced this violence. We’ve heard their devastating stories, we’ve listened to their needs, and we’ve vowed to ensure their voices are heard in parliament.
That’s why we’re compelled to raise our concerns about the draft Domestic Abuse Bill, which, as it currently stands, will fail to protect migrant women from this terrible violence.
We know from meeting people in our surgeries that some of the most vulnerable women experiencing or trying to escape domestic abuse are migrant women.
These women find it virtually impossible to access protection from the police or doctors for fear they will be reported to the Home Office and detained or even deported. These women are unable to find safety in a refuge bed because they have no recourse to public funds. These women are often blocked from securing their immigration status because of a dependence on their abusive partner.
These are the women who are falling through the gaps and further harmed by our current system that treats them as suspects rather than victims. They face a hopeless choice: homelessness, destitution, detention or deportation on the one hand, or returning home to a violent or abusive partner on the other.
The Domestic Abuse Bill is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for our government to ensure all women are offered proper protection, and it’s the vehicle through which the Government hopes to ratify the Istanbul Convention on preventing violence against women.
But it will fail in these goals if neglects to address the specific needs of migrant women.
We support calls from across the BME, women’s and human rights sectors for the Bill to guarantee adequate and equal protection for all survivors of domestic abuse. The Government must take this opportunity to listen to migrant women survivors and ensure the Bill leaves no woman behind.”