Time for all women to be protected from violence

It’s days like today which remind me why I enjoy working at Amnesty.

I was fortunate to be among nearly 300 people from all over the country who’d come to London to take part in Amnesty’s mass lobby of Parliament to call on the Government to protect all women facing violence in the UK

Lobbyists ranged from 16-year-old teenage boys to men and women from as far away as Rochdale.  All of them took time out of their busy schedule or time off work to meet their MP to call for increased protection for women facing violence.

When you consider what exactly they’re campaigning for it’s not difficult to see why they were so galvanised.

Amnesty’s mass lobby – which was supported by women’s sector organisations including Southall Black Sisters – was about ensuring that no woman living in the UK should have to stay in a violent environment or relationship but instead be able to escape to a refuge if they need to. 

At the moment, some women – specifically those on spousal visas, student visas and temporary work permits and some others – do not have this basic privilege. Because of their immigration status they are victims of the ‘no recourse to public funds’ rule which essentially means that they cannot access housing benefit or appropriate government assistance which would essentially guarantee them a space in a refuge.

As a result refuge workers are faced with the incredibly difficult decision of having to turn these vulnerable women away. They are left with the stark choice, either returning to the violent relationship or being left destitute.

To think that this happens in 21st century Britain is absolutely shocking. Especially when one considers that the UK Government made international commitments to protect the human rights of all women living in their jurisdiction.
 
So far I’ve spotted one MP tweeting about his Amnesty International visit and Jo Swinton MP also spoke to Amnesty’s film crew about her support for today’s mass lobby. 

Hopefully today’s meetings will make a real impact on government and they will quickly exempt women fleeing violence from the ‘no recourse to public funds’ rule and ensure that all women living in the UK are able to flee violence.

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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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