The government has set out an enhanced version of the Domestic Abuse Bill, which the Mistry for Justice says will go even further to support and protect victims and punish perpetrators.
The long-awaited domestic abuse bill will be introduced in the House of Commons for its first reading after it was delayed by Boris Johnson’s decision to prorogue parliament and hold an election last year.
Campaigners have welcomed the legislation but warn it will fail to be a truly ground-breaking piece of legislation unless it provides proper safety and protection for migrant and BME women.
Gisela Valle, director at Latin American Women’s Rights Service (LAWRS) said: ‘While we welcome the reintroduction of the Domestic Abuse Bill and the expansion of some of its provisions, by neglecting to address the barriers experienced by migrant victims the bill falls short of realising the government’s stated goals of protecting victims and tackling crime.
‘All victims, regardless of their immigration status, must be able to report to the police safely and without fear, otherwise, they cannot be protected, and their abusers will not be held accountable.
‘We are disappointed that migrant survivors are once again overlooked in this bill in spite of the recommendations made last year by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on the Draft Domestic Abuse bill to establish a firewall to separate reporting of a crime and access to support from immigration control.
‘Vague promises to review support for migrant victims at a later date reinforces the notion that migrant survivors are undeserving of state protection and support on equal footing as other victims of abuse.
‘The Domestic Abuse Bill cannot be truly ground-breaking until there is a certainty that all women will be protected, and all perpetrators held accountable.’
Government bosses say the bill will include new measures, such as requiring county councils and unitary authorities in England to provide support and ensure safe accommodation for victims and their children. And will extend the ban on abusers cross-examining their victims in the family courts, so it applies to all family proceedings where there is evidence of domestic abuse.
Sandra Horley CBE, chief executive of national domestic abuse charity Refuge said: ‘Refuge welcomes the re-introduction of the Domestic Abuse Bill, which is significantly enhanced by the addition of a legal duty on local authorities to provide refuge accommodation.
‘This bill offers the government a real opportunity to transform the response to domestic abuse in this country, but key to its success will be meeting this duty with adequate funding, so that no woman or child is ever turned away when seeking safety.
‘Refuge will continue to work with the government to strengthen the bill as it progresses into law, and to ensure it best protects the survivors whose very lives depend on it.’
For more information contact the Refuge press team on 0207 395 7731.
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