LibLink: Christine Jardine: We need to change the Domestic Abuse Bill

Christine Jardine has written for the New Statesman (£) on why the Government’s Domestic Abuse Bill needs to be changed in order to make sure that migrant women get the support that they need to escape abusive relationships.

Imagine this. You’ve moved halfway across the world with two children, leaving behind everyone you know and love, to be with your partner in a different country. But instead of starting a new life, he starts to abuse you emotionally, financially and physically. That’s what happened to one of the women who now campaigns for others like her to have better rights and protections.

Eight months after she moved to the UK, her partner turned violent. She fled from the house with her eldest child. But when she went to the Home Office for help to return to Brazil because her visa had run out, she was told she would have to wait for seven days. She was given no financial support or accommodation and had no choice but to sleep on the street. Her situation is still precarious – living from one short-term visa to the next. Because of her immigration status, she can’t access public funds.

This is why she and the Lib Dems are supporting amendments to help those in this situation:

The first of the amendments would ensure that survivors of abuse can get access to the financial support they need by creating an exemption to the No Recourse to Public Funds rule. Currently, depending on your immigration status, you can’t receive help such as housing benefit, universal credit or child benefit. So if you’re a survivor of domestic violence and you are, for example, on a student visa or a spousal visa, there is no help for you.

It is hard to avoid the conclusion that this government cares more about an individual’s immigration status than either their wellbeing or human rights. That is not acceptable.

At the moment, those on a spousal or partner visa can get indefinite leave to remain thanks to the domestic violence rule, which means they don’t lose their right to remain in the UK by leaving their abuser. While they apply, they can also get access to public funds through the Destitution Domestic Violence (DDV) Concession.

Both of these provisions should be extended to all migrant women who are experiencing or are at risk of abuse, regardless of the type of visa they are on or if they have one at all.

We are also calling on the government to create a firewall between the police and the Home Office, so that survivors who report abuse do not have their information shared with the Home Office for immigration enforcement. We should be doing everything we can to make it easier for anyone to get the help they need to survive domestic violence, instead of adding to their difficulties with threats of detention and deportation.

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2 Comments

  • Richard Underhill 7th Jun '20 - 12:12pm

    Is it also intended to deport the abuser?
    If so, how much time is intended for the court case to extend the victim’s visa?

  • david gilroy 27th Aug '20 - 10:49pm

    is there a connection between the Domestic abuse bill and the Abortion Bill amendment attempt in eng and wales that failed recently.

    and what is your position on any proposed amendment to the Abortion bill to extend termination dates further in Scotand
    Its not a trick question I just want to know the views of the person i may vote for.

    thank you David Gilroy

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