Southall Black Sisters

April 22, 2008 at 9:11 am | Posted in Feminisms | Leave a comment
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I won’t be around much today on account of yet another pilgrimage across the Pennines to fill my gut with chips and cheap beer and attend another protracted war of attrition between two of the country’s two biggest football clubs.

But I didn’t want to leave without voicing my support for this campaign by Southall Black Sisters. Here’s the lowdown:

Every year, hundreds of black and migrant women face domestic violence from their husbands and families in the UK. For many, their insecure immigration status renders them extremely vulnerable to abusive partners who exploit their position by subjecting them to often extreme forms of violence, imprisonment and domestic servitude, usually with impunity. Many abusers know that these women cannot report them to the authorities for fear of being sent back to their countries of origin where, as a divorced or separated women, they are likely to face persecution from the state and society.

In 2002, following immense pressure, the government introduced the ‘domestic violence rule’ in immigration law, which states that if a person married or living with a settled partner can provide specific evidence to demonstrate that she/he is a victim of domestic violence and meet other conditions, she/he can remain in the UK indefinitely. But for a significant number of women, the existence of the ‘no recourse to public funds’ requirement in immigration and welfare law, prevents them from making use of the domestic violence rule because they cannot access safe housing or benefits to escape domestic violence. The result is that they are faced with a stark choice, leave and face destitution or stay and risk their lives.

The ‘no recourse’ requirement bars anyone entering the UK on the basis of marriage from relying on public housing or benefits until their immigration position is regularised. This forces women into positions of economic dependency on the settled spouse or partner. The result is sheer desperation on the part of the individual and their advisors (emphasis mine).

There’s no doubt that abolising ‘no recourse’ would ease the hardship of a great number of society’s most vulnerable people. There’s a protest planned for tomorrow, the details of which I found via Sunny at Pickled Politics and Jess McCabe at The F Word:

The plan for the Day of Action is to assemble at 11.00am for a demonstration at 11.30-12.30 on the Embankment opposite Portcullis House, Westminster, London (nearest tube Westminster) we were not able to get permission to gather in Parliament Square. A big, bold and beautiful banner is being made by an Amnesty artist. Please wear black on the day.

The public meeting will begin at 1pm in Portcullis House, details of the speakers will follow shortly.

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