The Domestic Abuse Bill That Sacrifices Migrant Women

 - Sakshi Post

Many people are actively working day in and day out to make the world a better place. While some people are doing it by spreading love, support, and kindness, others are doing so by standing up against wrong and fighting for the things that matter. Every day, people are fighting for fundamental rights. However, unfortunately, a lot of these fights go unheard.

One of the most recent and praiseworthy changes to be welcome in the UK is the domestic abuse bill that was passed in July of 2020. The bill creates a more practical approach for people to tackle domestic abuse issues in the UK and Wales.

Domestic abuse has been rampant for decades. However, it was once thought of to be a ‘personal’ issue where the law should not intervene. This caused immense distress amongst people, mainly the domestic abuse victims and survivors. However, small changes had finally led us to this significant moment when, in 2020, the domestic abuse bill was yet passed, offering increased protection and help to the survivors.

It is shocking to imagine that there are about 2.4 million victims of domestic abuse each year, out of which two-thirds are women. The domestic abuse bill is meant to offer support and help to the victims and survivors of domestic violence, giving them the confidence to step out of their situations and to report their experience. The bill allows these victims and survivors to relate the incidents to the authorities where they, along with their children, can receive help and support and pursue their abuser.

What does the domestic abuse bill of 2020 do?

There are several essential points which are highlighted in this bill, them being:

  • Legal meaning of domestic abuse has been created, which emphasizes that domestic violence is not merely physical, but can also be emotional and psychological, coercive, controlling, and even economic abuse
  • The bill would establish a Domestic Abuse Commissioner who will stand up for the victims and survivors of domestic abuse. This individual is also responsible for spreading awareness, along with monitoring the response of the local authorities, the justice system, and even other statutory agencies. They will be held into account when tackling domestic abuse issues.
  • It will also allow for a new Domestic Abuse Notice as well as a new Domestic Abuse Protection Order
  • The bill places a duty on the local authorities of England to provide help and support to victims of domestic abuse as well as their children in a refuge and other kinds of safe accommodation
  • Perpetrators of abuse are prohibited from interrogating their victims face to face when in courts in England
  • Creation of a legal assumption allowing victims of domestic abuse to exercise exceptional measures in criminal courts (for example, allowing victims and survivors to provide evidence via video links, etc.)
  • Enabling domestic wrongdoers to be subject to polygraph tests as a condition of their license, following their discharge from official custody
  • The guidance which supports the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (“Clare’s law”) to be placed on a statutory footing
  • Ensuring that where a local official, reasons which are associated with domestic abuse, grant a new secure tenancy to a social tenant- who has a safe lifetime, or assured tenancy, this should be a secure lifetime tenancy
  • Extending the extraterritorial jurisdiction of the criminal courts in Wales and England, Scotland as well as Northern Ireland to further violence as well we sexual offenses

By going through these points, we can understand that the domestic abuse bill which was passed in 2020 has been an excellent step in the right direction. Now, children are also included in this bill, and the minimum age for a victim of domestic abuse has been changed from 18 years to 16 years. This was done as recognition of the fact that 16-year-olds can also be victims of abuse. The age limit was not reduced further, as cases dealing with children below 16 years will be considered as child abuse. Another significant change was the fact that now a domestic abuse commissioner has also been appointed.

However, several campaigners, as well as victims, have brought to light a gaping hole in this bill- migrant women have been left out.

What does this imply?

This Domestic Abuse Bill of 2020 has provided groundbreaking changes and will provide immense support to domestic abuse victims of England and Wales. However, it leaves out migrant women from this support altogether.

The message that this sends is that migrant women’s lives are simply not valued. These migrant women will have no recourse to public funds. This necessarily does not allow them to walk out of abusive relationships, as the lack of support and aid leaves them desperately stuck in their situations.

It should be noted that currently, any domestic abuse victims who are on spousal visas may have access to support for up to three months. However, women who are on any other type of visa who have absolutely no recourse to public funds have no such support.

A lot of people are taking this to imply that although the Government is aware of the issue that migrant women are facing, they are merely choosing to ignore the problem, or just do nothing about it. Could this mean that the lives and safety of migrant women are simply not important to the Government, or is it only not on their priority list?

Pragna Patel, the director of Southall Black Sisters, has brought up this issue and her legitimate viewpoints on it with the minister for safeguarding, Victoria Atkins. The response that she has faced every time has been that the situation required more assessment.

The Domestic Abuse Bill is being thought of as a landmark piece of legislation. This bill will set the standard on ensuring the protection, safety, and appropriate support for victims and survivors of domestic abuse. Leaving out a section of women from this bill, migrant women, and denying them the same relief, is a great disservice to the intention of the bill itself.

It has been studied that in the case of migrant women, many women who are victims of domestic abuse are unable to seek help or safely remove themselves from the situation. This can be seen happening due to several reasons- either the perpetrator has threatened or physically removed their visas, or maybe the women do not have the financial support they need to remove themselves from the situation. Sometimes they are physically threatened or even abused further if the abuser has known their intention to leave.

Although we must admit that this new bill has been a game-changer for all domestic abuse victims in the UK, it cannot yet be thought of as a whole, as it is leaving behind a category of women from the bill.

The Government has committed to the support which can be made available for migrant women who are victims of domestic abuse. Before the bill is laid, if these reviews are done successfully, then it can be thought of as a huge landmark and a game-changer for victims of domestic abuse in the UK and Wales.

Why suffer in silence when the law is on your side? Visit Qredible.co.uk to choose a domestic violence solicitor to get help or contact a solicitor who specializes in Family Law.

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