Govt must protect domestic abuse victims: Sadiq Khan


LONDON: Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan has urged the Home Office to better protect domestic abuse victims after warnings that women are being “trapped” in violent relationships as a result of its hostile environment policies. Sadiq Khan called on the home secretary, Sajid Javid, to urgently act to protect victims of crime with insecure immigration status. Research by his office has found vulnerable women in the capital are being denied access to support and flagged to the Home Office after reporting domestic abuse.
One woman came to the UK with her young child on a spousal visa and quickly began experiencing domestic violence, with her partner telling her that if she phoned the police she would be arrested and deported because she was an illegal immigrant.
When she eventually summoned the courage to contact the police, a non-molestation order was granted but she was given no alternative accommodation or refuge. Her partner later told the Home Office they had split, at which point her visa was revoked. It comes at a time when Theresa May’s hostile environment policy is under intense scrutiny following the Wind rush scandal, which saw people targeted by immigration officials despite having arrived in the UK as children.
The hostile measures have also been blamed for the unfair targeting of vulnerable groups such as trafficking victims and homeless people. MPs and leading charities have backed the demands, saying the hostile environment has led to an “extremely dangerous” situation whereby perpetrators are able to use the measures to abuse their partners. Claire Waxman, London’s first victims’ commissioner, said she had encountered a number of migrant women who were choosing not to report domestic violence due to a fear of deportation and were subsequently ”trapped” in violent and oppressive relationships. “I have met far too many victims trapped in violent and oppressive relationships who feel they have no way out because they can’t safely access support due to fears of being detained or deported,” she told The Independent.
“Both the mayor and I are clear that all victims of abuse must have full confidence to report crime and their abusers to ensure justice is done, no matter what their status might be.” Labour MP Jess Phillips said she fully backed the mayor’s demands, saying a number of her constituents had been detained in Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre after reporting violence and threats against them by violent partners. “Our police forces and immigration services should not collude with perpetrators of violence, and no victim should ever worry that if they report crimes against them and their children that they risk deportation or detention,” she said.
One victim, who gave her name as Andréa, is still experiencing domestic violence from her EU partner despite reporting it to the police. Her spousal visa was revoked in April after he phoned the Home Office to tell them they were no longer together as a means of manipulation.