MPs urge Government to stop discrimination over women’s refuges


MINISTERS are under pressure to change domestic violence laws so that all women can access help or a refuge in a crisis.

Under current proposals being set out in Parliament some immigrant women cannot escape abusive partners as they are not entitled to government funding.

Jess Phillips is campaigning to end the discrimination

Shockingly it means that women and children who have gone to the police are refused access to a shelter and are often forced to move back in with an abuser.

Labour MP Jess Phillips is campaigning to end the discrimination, and hopes an amendment to the law will open up help to every woman in crisis.

She is also pushing an amendment which will see children defined under the abuse laws.

Speaking to HOAR she said: “Domestic violence abusers don’t discriminate, so we have to make sure our domestic violence laws do not discriminate.”

The amendment will look to extend the existing ‘domestic violence destitution scheme’ which funds survivors relocation from abusers.

Immigrant women can only access the scheme if their visa is tied to their spouse – and lasts for three months.

Ms Philips hopes to see the scheme extended for six months, and opened up to women on student visa, work visas and ever tourist visas.

She said: “It shouldn’t matter – if you have just been beaten up or your life has been threatened, and you go to a police station, they should be able to say there is somewhere for you to go where you will be safe, no matter who you are, no matter where you come from.”

The MP said: “With students you see terrible cases and the government’s reaction is pretty much they can go back to their own country – that’s the best way to escape.

“But if you’re in the middle of your studies, for example, you would have to give up everything.”

The MP is keen for the legislation to help women in crisis, and not be used as an immigration loophole.

Police reports, doctors notes or other evidence would be required to prove domestic abuse before it would be granted.

She added: “They just need to change the law to make sure that the domestic abuse bill for all victims.

“That it doesn’t matter who you are, we don’t care who you are.If you suffer violence in our country, we will try and protect you.”

The law would help police solve the crimes – as most of the abusers are British but their partners feel they cannot make a complaint.

The MP said: “We want to be tough on this crime and it’s a hindrance because people just don’t come forward. You hear it again and again.

“Victims saying ‘he held on to my passport’ and he said ‘don’t tell anybody what’s happening because you’ll get kicked out of the country.’

“That often happens to women on spousal visas who’s immigration status is linked to staying with somebody – which is which is terrifying.”

Ms Phillips added:“It has a real knock on effect on justice, on being able to lock up these wrong’uns.”

Although Ms Phillips said she has had “constructive” meetings with Ministers she said they seemed reluctant to change it adding: “I don’t know why.”

MPs are set to debate the laws this week, with the proposed amendments brought before Parliament for the bill’s third reading in a number of weeks.

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