While the Government´s calendar marks 65 days left before the closing day for the Domestic Abuse Bill Consultation, for us there is an incessant tick-tack on the clock indicating the precious time we have on our hands to influence a piece of legislation that could potentially change the lives of many women. For us, this is a pivotal opportunity to let policy-makers know about the current gaps in legislation regarding the protection of refugees and migrant women victims of domestic abuse in this country.

IARS and the Women’s Advisory board have for many years been working together with migrant and refugee women victims of violence, in particular, in the past 2 years through the Gender and Justice Empowerment project. The experiences of many of the project´s beneficiaries have served us as inputs to think about the best possible ways to prevent and address domestic abuse, emphasizing the needs of refugee and migrant women. The EU Victims Directive and the Istanbul Convention provide a very strong framework to safeguard the victims’ rights of migrant and refugee women regardless of their residency status, however, we know from experience that in practice these are rights too often far from reality.

The Bill provides a prospect to close this gap and the consultation present an opportunity for us to ensure that happens by voicing out concerns. We are currently working with the Women’s Advisory Board and other beneficiaries from our project to ensure their voices are included in our response. We hope to create a space to share their stories of resilience; stories that can be used as practical methods for the healing of victims´ physical and psychological wounds.

We welcome the efforts of the UK government to tackle Domestic Abuse in the country but firmly believes is paramount that refugee and migrant women’s needs to be heard and addressed, the Bill must work towards an END to Zero Risk Victims in the UK. We urge that the Government do not turn a blind eye to the specific challenges of refugee and migrant women survivors as these populations have historically been made more vulnerable to violence and abuse.

Our full response to the consultation will be published on our website in the first week of June.