MPs back protection for immigrant women against domestic violence

Jo has tabled a Parliamentary Motion calling on the Government to implement a permanent solution to protect immigrant women from domestic violence.

The motion, which has cross-party support, welcomes the Government’s new three month pilot scheme which gives access to public funds to women who are suffering from domestic violence and have an insecure immigration status, so that they may get a place at a women’s refuge. However, the motion calls on the Government to make the scheme permanent to offer a long term solution to the problem.

The ‘no recourse to public funds’ rule means that many women, such as those on student visas, temporary work permits or spousal visas, are trapped in a cycle of abuse because their immigration status means they cannot seek protection at women’s refuges.

The Liberal Democrats, as part of their ‘Real Women’ campaign, are calling for the Government to exempt women suffering domestic violence from the ‘no recourse to public funds’ rule in order to afford them basic protection. Amnesty International have also long campaigned on this issue, and recently held a mass lobby of Parliament to persuade MPs to support the campaign.

Commenting, Jo said:

“I am pleased that the Government has announced this pilot scheme, and I look forward to hearing how the Government evaluates the results. However, three months is simply not long enough – there is clearly a need for a permanent solution to this problem.

“This motion has been backed by MPs of all three main parties, and I hope it will send a strong signal to the Government that while the pilot scheme is welcome, we will continue to press for permanent measures to provide protection for women who are suffering from domestic violence, regardless of their immigration status.”

Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:

“This announcement is certainly a welcome step in the right direction, albeit a long time coming, which would enable hundreds of women to escape an abusive situation and access a refuge. However this is only a short term pilot scheme.

“The Minister Alan Campbell stated that this pilot trial will serve to inform the government towards developing a longer-term solution to this issue. We will hold the government to this and expect to see detailed plans in March which will outline how this project will be permanently implemented.”

The text of Jo Swinson’s Early Day Motion appears below:

Violence Against Women – No Recourse to Public Funds

That this House commends the work of Amnesty International, the No recourse to Public Funds campaign and the End Violence Against Women campaign; acknowledges that the current ‘no recourse to public funds’ rule has a devastating effect on hundreds of women who are trapped in a cycle of abuse, unable to access basic levels of protection and support due to their immigration status; believes that the UK Government has a duty to protect the human rights of all women entering the UK regardless of immigration status, as stated in the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW); acknowledges the recent Home Office Pilot Project, but recognises the need for a permanent solution for all women and therefore calls on the Government to exempt women fleeing domestic violence from the ‘no recourse to public funds’ rule, to grant women’s refuges the funds they need to offer protection from violence to all women suffering abuse, and to launch an integrated strategy for violence against women so as to prevent contradictory policies undermining women’s rights.

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