One of the ways our immigration ‘system’ discriminates against women is the “no recourse to public funds” rule, which prevents any person who has migrated to the UK on the basis of marriage to a citizen from using public services until their immigration position is regularised, as Southall Black Sisters explain on their website.
The net result is that migrant women can be forced to choose between staying with an abusive partners, or potentially being deported, and/or are not about to access the publically-funded services that they need in order to leave that situation.
In 2002, following immense pressure, the government introduced the ‘domestic violence rule’ in immigration law, which states that if a person married or living with a settled partner can provide specific evidence to demonstrate that she/he is a
victim of domestic violence and meet other conditions, she/he can remain in the UK indefinitely. But for a significant number of women, the existence of the ‘no recourse to public funds’ requirement in immigration and welfare law, prevents them from
making use of the domestic violence rule because they cannot access safe housing or benefits to escape domestic violence. The result is that they are faced with a stark choice, leave and face destitution or stay and risk their lives.
This Wednesday, SBS, along with Amnesty, Poppy and a host of other groups, is backing a day of action to call on the government to abolish the no recourse rule, and take a series of steps to protect migrant women in abusive relationships. For example, the groups are calling for visa applications to be fast tracked if there is “prima facie evidence of domestic violence”.
For those in London, there is a protest in Westminster you can attend (unfortunately in the morning, on a weekday, but still).
Details of the protest:
The plan for the Day of Action is to assemble at 11.00am for a demonstration at 11.30-12.30 on the Embankment opposite Portcullis House, Westminster, London (nearest tube Westminster) we were not able to get permission to gather in Parliament Square. A big, bold and beautiful banner is being made by an Amnesty artist. Please wear black on the day.
The public meeting will begin at 1pm in Portcullis House, details of the speakers will follow shortly.