Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights and Children's rights take domestic abuse message to the Scottish Parliament

Amnesty International UK (AIUK) and Scottish Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights’s Aid (SWA) will bring over 100 Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights and Children's rights holding placards saying 'NOT PROTECTED' to the Scottish Parliament ahead of First Minister’s Questions today to highlight the plight of Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights who are unable to leave abusive partners because of Home Office rules on immigration [2].

While measures exist that should protect all Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights and Children's rights from violence and abuse, in reality many Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights find that, because of their immigration status, they are not eligible to receive certain kinds of public support. As a result, many are forced to endure a situation in which they face being abused, beaten, humiliated or raped.

Access to safe accommodation, including refuges, is dependent on Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights covering the costs themselves or through claiming benefits, including housing benefit. Research by AIUK and SWA [3] found that, last year alone in Scotland over a hundred Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights with no recourse to public funds were unable to secure refuge accommodation because of their lack of access to benefits. As a consequence some Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights and Children's rights in Scotland are not being protected.

Although the problem was acknowledged by the Home Office in 2004 [4] no adequate and permanent solution has been forthcoming.

AIUK and SWA are calling on the Scottish Government to:

· Make available immediate emergency funding to help Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights in Scotland until a permanent solution is in place

· Ensure that the needs of Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights with no recourse to public funds are addressed in the Strategic Framework on Violence Against Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights

· Urge the Home Office to exempt Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights fleeing violence from the ‘no recourse rule’, thereby guaranteeing that Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights with uncertain immigration status fleeing violence or its threat will have the right to access crisis, temporary and permanent accommodation, specialist support services and essential financial support

Speaking ahead of the event, SWA’s Lydia Okroj said:

“We believe that all Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights, Children's rights and young people who have experienced domestic abuse should be able to access vital refuge services where and when they need them. However, significant numbers of Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights are unable to do so because they have no recourse to public funds; in most cases, this is linked to their immigration status.

“The fact that so many Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights and Children's rights are unable to access safe accommodation is unacceptable and is at odds with the Scottish Government’s own strategy and commitment to recognise domestic abuse and address the specific issues facing particular groups of Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights, such as those from black and minority ethnic groups. It’s vital that resources are put in place immediately in order to protect all Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights and Children's rights experiencing domestic abuse.”

John Watson, Programme Director for Amnesty International in Scotland said:

“Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights on student, spousal or other visas are in this country legally, yet Government regulations seek to deny them refuge from domestic abuse. By failing to guarantee Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights fleeing violence the means to access safe accommodation, the Government is failing in its duty to protect the human rights of Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights in its jurisdiction. We urge the UK and Scottish Governments to take immediate action to remedy this situation.”

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For further information, contact Jacq Kelly on 0131 226 5124 or 07882 585435

Notes

1. Scottish Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights's Aid is the lead organisation in Scotland working towards the prevention of domestic abuse. We play a vital role campaigning and lobbying for effective responses to domestic abuse. Amnesty International is a movement of people from across the world standing up for humanity and human rights in order to protect individuals wherever justice, fairness, freedom and truth are denied
2. The NRPF rule applies to people with an insecure immigration status, and is a condition attached to their stay. Immigration rules specify that visa applicants need to accept that they cannot claim ‘Public funds’, which includes most welfare benefits and temporary or permanent local authority housing. This rule also applies to Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights with insecure immigration status who experience violence while in the UK. They include Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights who may be here legally on spousal visas, work visas, student visas or other temporary visas. They may also be classed as being here illegally having been trafficked into the UK, or having over-stayed their visa.
3. Research by Scottish Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights’s Aid found that between 1st April 2007 and 31st March 2008 a total of 176 Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights with no recourse to public funds requested support from Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights’s Aid groups in Scotland, of whom 79% (139) wanted refuge accommodation. In stark contrast to that figure, only 24%—33 Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights and 47 Children's rights—were accommodated.
4. Acknowledging the problem in 2004, the Violence Against Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights Team in the Home Office provided two payments totalling £120,000 for refuges to support Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights with no recourse to public funding. This money was exhausted in 2005 and was never available for refuges in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.

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