Domestic Abuse Bill in Parliament

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We are lobbying for the Bill to: recognise that domestic abuse victims are mostly women; provide vital resources so women and children can escape; extend all protections and resources to immigrant women and women with disabilities. 

See our short film Immigrant Women protest No Recourse to Public Funds made jointly with the All African Women’s Group:

As a member of the Support Not Separation Coalition we are lobbying for the Bill to prevent family courts enabling violent fathers to abuse mothers and children. 
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DOMESTIC ABUSE BILL BRIEFING TO HOUSE OF LORDS

The Domestic Abuse Bill is due for second reading in the House of Lords followed by Committee stage, when amendments can be put. We don’t know the date for either of these yet (watch this space) but we will be sending this briefing to some members of the Lords (and Ladies) to bring our concerns about strengthening the Bill to their attention.

This Briefing is from Women Against Rape (WAR) and Support Not Separation Coalition

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Living under “lockdown” – Gloria, All African Women’s Group

When did you come to the UK?

I’ve been in the UK since 2002.  I was forced to leave [Uganda] because I feared for my life.  I was married to an extremely violent, controlling and powerful man who was able to abuse me and get away with it as he had many friends among the police. When I came here I lived underground for two years.  I didn’t know I could claim asylum – but I knew going back would put me in danger as I heard he was still looking for me. So I applied for indefinite leave to remain but was refused.  

What is my current situation?

I did odd jobs to survive, looking after children, cleaning – housework. Sometimes I wasn’t paid because they took my money for food and living cost. In 2007 I started relationship with a British national who knew my situation.  Soon after he began to abuse and insult me. I was desperate to leave him, but with nowhere to go and no one to help me I suffered in silence.  In 2019 I was picked up by the immigration authorities and taken into Yarl’s Wood Detention Centre.  My partner didn’t help.  It was inside that hell hole that I came across a copy of Legal Action for Women’s SH Guide for Asylum seekers. I read it from cover to cover and finally understood my rights. I put in an asylum claim. It was very painful as I was forced to recall some of the dreadful things that happened to me. I was released after a few days. I went straight to the Crossroads Women’s Centre, the best decision of my life, I was able to smile again.  I joined AAWG and volunteered every week until the lockdown.  With their support I grown in confidence determined to fight not only for myself but for the many 1000s of women like me who don’t know who to turn to.

The CORVID pandemic – has made our live which were already fragile even harsher.  My accommodation set up has no nowhere to have quiet/private time.  It’s mental torture and brings back memories of being in detention.  I’m trapped with a man who knows he can do what he likes.  I tread on eggshells every day to avoid firing him up.  I manage to find a way to speak with women in GWAD most days and join the weekly phone meetings. This precious time stops me from going crazy because I can hear a friendly voice with genuine concern that lifts my spirits. 

What I fear in coming forward for help

Many charities that we have turned to for help, have been working in cahoots with the Home Office.  We don’t know who we can trust and fear of being reported to the authorities.   With no money of my own I’m at the mercy of my “host”.  I’m trying to get financial help from NASS– it will be small, but having any money will give me a little more independence.  Despite the awful situation I’m in – with CORVID – it would be far more dangerous to move.  I would have to start over again in another city where I don’t know anyone – I’ve had to do that too many times in my life already.

What changes would you like to see?

Women like me were destitute and in “quarantine” long before CORVID – I would like to see people getting our papers, to access accommodation and healthcare. Everyone must be released from detention and have the right to live.  People back home are in lock down and even worse eking out a living from hand to mouth without food or running water – never mind hand sanitiser.

Is there anything else you think is important?

Women are the main carers in this world – we make sure our households, animals and crops survive come rain, drought or virus – yet we get now money for this. We must have a care income for our work – that’s what I think is important to fight for now and win!

MODEL LETTER TO UK HOME SECRETARY,PRITI PATEL MP

Please add some information about yourself and the reason you are writing.

Rt. Hon Priti Patel MP
Home Office
2 Marsham Street
London, SW1P 4DF

Email: public.enquiries@homeoffice.gov.uk

Dear Ms Patel,

I am writing to demand that you grant immediate, permanent and unconditional amnesty for all migrants and refugees currently living in the UK.

This pandemic has shown how dependent the UK is on migrant as essential workers in hospitals, social care, food supply, agriculture, transport and other areas. Yet there are up to one million undocumented migrants in the UK who are destitute and therefore at greater risk of contracting Covid-19 because they are being deprived of health care, housing and even food. Living in such conditions makes it impossible for people to self-isolate and abide by government social distancing advice. People are being forced to risk their own and the community’s health.

There is growing support for immigrant people being granted the right to stay and for an amnesty from deportation. Public pressure has already led to over 75% of people being released from immigration detention, the courts ruling that the ‘No Recourse to Public Funds’ Policy was illegal and most recently to your government being forced to scrap the surcharge that non-EU NHS staff have to pay.

We urge you to follow the lead given by the Portuguese and Italian governments and grant papers to all migrants currently living in the UK regardless of their immigration status, length of stay or financial situation.

Yours sincerely

ACTION: TWITTERSTORM WEDNESDAY 27 MAY 2020 @ 6PM (UK)

The INTERNATIONAL NETWORK OF MIGRANTS AND ANTI-RACIST ORGANIZATIONS AND COLLECTIVES #PapersForAll demands immediate, permanent, and unconditional amnesty for all migrants and refugees at this time of a global pandemic and health emergency.   

Active in Europe, Latin America, the US and the UK – we are calling for everyone concerned with justice to join a Twitterstorm on Wednesday 27 May at 6pm to demand #PapersForAll.

In the UK up to one million undocumented destitute migrants are at risk of contracting Covid-19 but also of starvation because of the crisis created by the pandemic.

At the same time migrants have been more visible and valued than ever as essential workers — in hospitals, social care, food supply, agriculture, transport and other areas — keeping the society going. Over 17% of the social care work force and at least 40% of NHS workers in London are immigrants risking their lives to care for others. Many are the same Windrush and Commonwealth victims still fighting for their papers and compensation. And immigrant people are 63% of all those who have died within the medical profession.

Over 75% of women seeking asylum and refugees are survivors of rape and other torture.  Women, especially mothers, do the survival caring work that protects and holds together families and communities. As one woman asylum seeker said:
“Women like me were destitute and in “quarantine” long before COVID . . . we want our papers, access to accommodation and healthcare and financial security. People back in our home countries are in lock down in even worse conditions eking out a living from hand to mouth without food or running water – never mind hand sanitizer.” (Rubie, All African Women’s Group).

The current racist immigration bill under discussion will create more undocumented people and undermine people’s right to stay by removing free movement from all EU migrants.

Public pressure has won some victories:
• 75% of immigration detainees have been released, however, many have been forced into slum housing with little or no money to buy food and other essentials and where it is impossible to self-isolate or observe social distancing.
• The ‘No Recourse to Public Funds’ Policy has been ruled unlawful and free school meals for children re-instated
• The surcharge non-EU NHS staff had to pay, on top of visa fees and taxes, was finally scrapped last week

We draw strength from other countries. In Spain, pressure from 900 community organisations led to all detainees being released. In Italy migrant (mostly African) farm workers are courageously striking for fair pay and papers for all. In Portugal all immigrants and asylum seekers were granted residency and full citizens’ rights during the pandemic – we want this to be permanent and global!    We have a right to be here in Britain and anywhere we want — to access health care and protection, and to reclaim the wealth that our work has created. Governments and corporations have looted our home countries, for centuries, and that theft continues today, causing war, starvation and ecological devastation.

We call on all governments and international organisations to grant #PapersForAll #RegularizacionYa to asylum seekers, those in detention and all undocumented migrants.

TAKE ACTION with the #PapersForAll Network to demand an immediate, permanent and unconditional amnesty for all migrants and refugees in this time of a global pandemic and health emergency.

1. Please sign and circulate our international statement  https://papersforall.com/

2. On Wednesday at 6pm (UK time) tweet @pritipatel @ukhomeoffice  
Example tweets:
Immigrant people are essential workers risking their health to care for others yet are denied their rights. Grant #PapersForAll #RegularizacionYa

Over a million people are undocumented in the UK and denied healthcare, housing and an income & at risk of Covid19. Grant #PapersForAll #RegularizacionYa

Download and share the images here

3. Write to Home Secretary, Priti Patel – model letter here. (Please copy to asylumfromrape@womenagainstrape.net)

4. Sign the UK petition https://www.change.org/p/prime-minister-boris-johnson-and-an-taoiseach-leo-varadkar-access-to-healthcare-housing-and-food-for-all  
Please share this action with your networks!

Contact:
Global Women Against Deportations
(a coalition of the All African Women’s Group, Legal Action for Women, Women Against Rape, Women of Colour/Global Women’s Strike) asylumfromrape@womenagainstrape.net +44 (0) 7456525227
Payday Men’s Networkpayday@paydaynet.org

AMNESTY FROM DEPORTATION, ACCESS TO HEALTH, HOUSING AND FOOD

SIGN THE PETITION HERE

An Open Letter to the Prime Minister of the UK and the Taoiseach of Ireland

cc:   UK Home Secretary and UK Health Secretary,
Irish Health Secretary and Irish Minister for Justice and Equality,
All UK MPs, All Members of the Irish Parliament (the Oireachtas),
All Leaders and CEOs of Local Authorities and Health Services in the UK, All CEOs of Councils and Health Services in Ireland, Professor Neil Ferguson, Imperial College, London, Dr. Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer, Ireland, Prof Ruairi Brugha, Professor of Public Health and Epidemiology, Ireland

27th March 2020

Dear Sirs

RE: ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE, HOUSING AND FOOD FOR ALL

We call upon the British and Irish States to act immediately so that all undocumented, destitute and migrant people in the legal process in both the UK and Ireland are granted Status Now, as in Leave to Remain.  In this way every human, irrespective of their nationality or citizenship can access healthcare, housing, food and the same sources of income from the State as everyone else.  

Everyone has the right to be in an environment where they can follow the Public Health directives necessary to limit COVID19 viral transmission to the absolute minimum and to care for themselves, their loved ones and their living and working communities.

It is imperative – being in everyone’s best interests – that the basic needs of all are met.

People living in extreme poverty and/or destitution and/or without immigration status in the UK or Ireland and/or without access to the NHS or the Irish Health System:

•             Are unable to socially isolate as needed
•             Cannot access health care, and income and other social support
•             Cannot contribute openly and without fear, to making the population as safe as possible, alongside everyone else. 

Key Points
–              Currently, migrant people who are in the legal system cannot keep physically safe on their allowances, because those allowances don’t amount to enough money to eat healthily, or buy and apply appropriate cleaning materials, and many are living in accommodation where they cannot socially isolate as they may want and need to.

–              People who are destitute and/or undocumented and living in the shadows fear what will happen to them if they identify themselves, cannot access healthcare, emergency shelter and food, nor report or seek protection from domestic violence, rape, exploitation and other abuses – levels of which are already rising.

Please direct your responses, as a matter of urgency obviously, to admin@rapar.org.uk

Yours sincerely,

All African Women’s Group
ATD Fourth World
BASW Cymru – British Association of Social Workers, Cymru
BFAWU – Bakers’, Food & Allied Workers Union
Black Women’s Rape Action Project
Comhlamh
Commonword/Cultureword
DocsNotCops
Doncaster Conversation Club
DPAC – Disabled People Against Cuts
EYST Wales – Ethnic Minorities and Youth Support Team, Wales
GDWG – Gatwick Detainees Welfare Group
Haringey Welcome
Highly Skilled Migrants UK
Legal Action for Women
Lichfield City of Sanctuary
Lichfield Refugee Aid
Lichfield Quaker Meeting
Manchester City of Sanctuary
MASI – Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland
Medical Professionals in the UK Seeking Registration
Middle East Solidarity Magazine
Migrants Rights Network
MOJUK – Miscarriages of Justice UK
MRRC – Manchester Refugee Rights Collective
No-Deportations – Residence Papers for All
Oldham Unity
Positive Action in Housing
Poverty Truth Community
Project 17
Public Interest Law Centre
QARN – Quaker Asylum and Refugee Network
RAPAR – Refugee and Asylum seeker Participatory Action Research
Remodel
Samphire
Reclaim the Power
Women of Colour/Global Women’s Strike

(Preliminary Signatories)

NEWS FLASH: Victory after living for 17 years in limbo!

Ms O from Cote D’Ivoire – announces today 3 March 2020 that she has finally won refugee status.

Speaking at today’s self-help session (which BWRAP helps coordinate) Ms O described how the immigration judge at her appeal hearing intervened to stop the Home Office barrister from putting intrusive and upsetting questions to her about her experiences.

One of the French-speaking sisters in the session translated for her – “I hardly knew what was happening in the hearing because when the Home Office started interrogating me I broke down with my hands in my head. The judge was so angry and told them to stop. Last week I got a call from my barrister who confirmed I can finally stay here – I’m so happy after living so many years destitute and suffering terrible things here in the UK too. I thank everyone for their support over all these years“.

Ms O’s victory is the latest in a series of fantastic successes at Appeal by women using our collective self-help support overturning racist and sexist decisions in the Home Office’s hostile environment.

Come to the Crossroads Women’s Centre International Women’s Day event to find out more about our work and how you can get involved. . .

International Women’s Day @ Crossroads Women’s Centre

Join us in the afternoon at the Crossroads Women’s Centre – let’s talk about campaigns for justice, compensation, asylum . . .

IWD 8M: OPEN DAY with the Global Women’s Strike (GWS) and other organisations at the Crossroads Women’s Centre All welcome

Programme 12-6pm


12-12.30 Welcome and exhibition Honouring Women

12.30-12.50 Film: Poverty is not neglect – protect the bond between mother and child + open mic with Support not Separation

12.50-1.10 Film: Women of Colour North and South + open mic with Women of Colour in the Global Women’s Strike (GWS)

1.10-1.30 Film: End detention, destitution, deportation + open mic with All African Women’s Group, Black Women’s Rape Action Project and Global Women Against Deportation

1.30-2 Break and refreshments

2-2.40 Film: All Work and No Pay (1976) + open mic with the Wages for Housework Campaign/GWS

2.40-3 Film: Breastfeeding & a care income – for health & climate justice (2019) + open mic with the Milk of Human Kindness

3-3.30 Break and refreshments

3.30-3.50 Film: Disability is hard work – an independent income is our right + open mic with WinVisible

3.50-4.10 Film: Survival sex is not a crime + open mic with English Collective of Prostitutes and International Prostitutes Collective

4.10-4.30 Film: Prosecute rapists not rape survivors + open mic with Women Against Rape

4.30-4.45 Break and refreshments

4.45-5.05 Film: Opposing occupation, weapons and war + open mic with Payday men’s network and Queer Strike

5.05-5.45 Palestinian women speak for themselves + open mic with WoC GWS and Payday

5.45-6 Film: Striking women around the globe + open mic with GWS and WoC GWS

Urgent Christmas appeal for destitute women and children

Dear Friends,

As Christmas and the school holidays are almost here, we write to ask again if you could kindly donate to our annual Christmas appeal for destitute women and children in the All African Women’s Group (AAWG) — the self-help group of women asylum seekers based with us at the Crossroads Women’s Centre. About 2/3 of women in the AAWG have been in detention and many of them are mothers, some are lesbian women. Each year we have been able to ensure that women have some money in their hands to cover essentials over the holiday period when they are without the usual support, including food and second hand clothes, that the Centre provides.

We appreciate that the people we approach for help often don’t have much themselves and are always amazed at the generosity, lovely comments and good wishes we receive.

Last year people as a result of this generosity, we were able to give 50 women a one-off payment of approximately £50 with which they were able to buy food and other essentials. We worked together to distribute the money raised.  A third of women at AAWG meetings, are destitute without any income.Many are suffering from physical and mental health problems from rape and other torture that they suffered.

Like millions of people in this country women are dependent on food banks throughout the year. Some women are on National Asylum Support but can barely survive on the weekly allowance of £37. Some are living in terrible slum housing with abusive landlords who take advantage of their vulnerable position. Mothers are particularly desperate. Having a little cash in their hands means that women get some respite from dependency and the grinding worry of how they are going to survive the day or week.

Women who are fighting for asylum knowing that their lives would be in danger if they were sent back are able to get help and support with this too. Using LAW’s Self -Help Asylum Guidewomen take part in weekly work sessions with Black Women’s Rape Action Project and Women Against Rape to work on their own and each other’s cases,  including taking calls from women in detention. All are encouraged and strengthened by the collective work at the Centre.

Women also speak at public events about the often hidden situation of women seeking asylum.With the climate crisis at the forefront of everyone’s minds, AAWG women have been speakingas farmers and as mothers, the primary carers in every society, who do the work of ensuring that people are fed, and who have been evicted or seen their land destroyed by environmental devastation.

This year we have had more lovely victories including a young woman from Albania who was at risk of honour killing if returned to her home country who won her case after nine years. Yet even having won this  may not be the end of the struggle as some women are fighting for housing years after winning their status and many are still fighting to be reunited with children they were forced to leave behind when they fled.

We are trying to raise at least £2000 to ensure that the women who regularly attend AAWG’s monthlyself-help meetings get a small cash payment. Anything you can give, no matter how small, will help.

Best wishes,

Niki Adams

How to donate:

  1. Through Crossroads Women’s Christmas Asylum Appeal 2019 fundraising page. If you are a taxpayer the value of your donation is increased by 20% atno extra cost to yourself if you choose to add Gift Aid to your donation.
  2. Money transfer to Legal Action for Women, Unity Trust Bank, account number – 50728361, sort code – 086001.  If donating online or direct into our account, we would appreciate an email to let us know. 
  3. By cheque, payable to Legal Action for Women – please specify that you are donating in response to the Christmas Appeal.

If you would like to donate non-perishable food, toiletries or other essential items, these would also be very much appreciated.  They can be delivered any day before 19 December to the Women’s Centre in Kentish Town (25 Wolsey Mews, NW5 2DX).

Thank You!

Legal Action for Women

 law@allwomencount.net  
Crossroads Women’s Centre, 25 Wolsey Mews, NW5 2DX Tel: 020 7482 2496

Our response to Guardian report showing a significant fall in prosecutions in England and Wales

Revealed: collapse in rape cases that end up in court, 27 July 2019

• It is shocking that after decades of campaigning by women and repeated official claims that scandals like Savile, Worboys and Rotherham are things of the past, we learn that rape charging has collapsed even further. It is not because victims don’t come forward. There is “a sharp rise in reports of rape made to police … from 2015 to 2019, the number of rape claims … rose by 61%, from 35,847 to 57,882”. Two women a week, many of them mothers, are killed by partners or ex-partners – usually after reporting multiple assaults and threats which go unheeded by police. Rape and domestic violence terrorise women daily, yet perpetrators can count on almost complete impunity.

How much does the latest drop in charging have to do with the abolition of specialist rape investigation units and “digital strip search”? We and many others, including the information commissioner and victims commissioner, objected to this indiscriminate download of victims’ social media. Big Brother Watch claims the police powers used against victims are more extensive than those used against crime suspects; lawyers question whether they are even legal.

Boris Johnson, who as London mayor made sweeping cuts to the police service, now wants to recruit 20,000 additional officers. Will any of them be used to police the terrorism of rape and domestic violence? Or will they be deployed to repress us when we protest against lack of action on sexist or racist violence, climate change, or child poverty?
Cristel Amiss Black Women’s Rape Action Project 
Lisa Longstaff Women Against Rape