Step Up Migrant Women
Step Up Migrant Women UK (SUMW) is a campaign that puts a woman’s human rights firmly over and above her immigration status.
Run by and for migrant Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) women from over 50 organisations, the campaign wants women with an insecure immigration status suffering abuse and domestic violence to be able to report their abuser/s to the police without fear of being detained, deported, made destitute or losing custody of her children.
At present, 60% of police forces routinely share victims’ immigration details with the Home Office. This is because there are no guidelines as to how police officers should deal with victims of crime who are also migrants.
The result is that victims do not trust the police and abusers can threaten them with deportation if they try to get help. 92% of migrant women victims say they have been threatened in this way, while others have had their passports hidden or been prevented from applying to the Home Office to resolve their insecure status themselves. Migrant women are even barred from refuges or getting a safe place to sleep because they have no rights to any benefits.
This situation is allowed to exist because it is seen as being tough on immigration. The hostility towards immigrants, migrants, asylum seekers, particularly if they are from a BAME community, takes priority over victims of violence and exploitation. Rights that are part of the Human Rights Act, which guarantee the same fundamental rights to everyone regardless of nationality, background or immigration status, are being routinely ignored and so leaves victims with no way to escape.
MEWSo wants …
… migrant women to be the responsibility of the Government.
MEWSo’s Executive Director Halaleh Taheri, said: “All women who step foot on British soil, regardless of where she is from originally, belongs to, and should be the responsibility of the UK Government.
“If a migrant woman’s paperwork is not the same as mine, it is not her fault, and denying her the right to exist in this country does the same amount of damage as the government in her home country.
“She should have the same rights as all UK women and we think it is wrong that she is still being tied to a country that she has forsaken or has forsaken her.”
The Domestic Abuse Bill currently going through Parliament, designed to protect victims and punish perpetrators, does not go far enough to protect migrant women. By not recognising the barriers that currently prevent them from reporting their abusers, the Bill will continue to leave them unprotected. This is despite recommendations made by the parliamentary joint committee to the draft domestic abuse bill that a “firewall” be established to make it safer for victims to speak out.
A firewall would be putting in place policies and procedures that effectively separate the reporting of crime from the enforcement of immigration controls.
Halaleh added: “We want to make absolutely sure that any law on Domestic Abuse clearly protects migrant women, encouraging them to report abusers without fear of being deported. Migrant women should not feel scared of calling the police, they must call rather than stay silent. If we can tell them, don’t worry the new law means you cannot be deported if you report on your abuser, they will be, and will feel, much safer.”
Add your voice to this growing campaign. Join us to make sure no woman is refused the help she needs because of her immigration status.
SUMW is a coalition of over 40 charities and organisations, led by the Latin American Women’s Rights Service, working to protect migrant women from abuse.
If you would like more information about our campaign, please don’t hesitate to contact us. If you would like to support our cause, please consider donating or look at our vacancy page for volunteering options.