UK government pushed to protect migrant women from male violence

27 July 2022, 12:55

Scottish and Welsh politicans say migrant women should receive protection from male violence.
Scottish and Welsh politicans say migrant women should receive protection from male violence. Picture: Alamy

By Gina Davidson

Scottish and Welsh ministers have made a joint call for the UK government to protect migrant women from male violence in a move which again sees two devolved governments work together to attempt a change of policy in Whitehall.

The move came after the Home Office announced partial ratification of the Istanbul Convention, a landmark European treaty on protecting women from violence, which the UK first signed up to a decade ago but has only just partially enacted.

The convention obliges signatories to take steps to tackle violence against women and girls, but Article 59, which protects migrant women, has not been included by the UK Government.

Now Scotland's equalities minister Christina McKelvie and Welsh social justice minister Jane Hutt have written a joint letter to the UK's safeguarding minister, Amanda Solloway, urging her to "do the right thing by migrant women" by ratifying Article 59.

Speaking to LBC, Christine McKelvie said: “It's good to see the Convention has finally been partially ratified but there doesn't seem to be a lot of reasoning behind creating an exemption, allowing them to carve out an opt out basically for migrant women.

“That runs counter to our Equally Safe programme in Scotland and our stated aim that all women should have the same protection irrespective of what their status is. I've got no idea why the UK Government wants to carve that out.”

In a letter to the UK’s safeguarding minister Amanda Solloway, the ministers write: "A key element of the Istanbul Convention is the obligation it places on states to implement its provisions without discrimination on any grounds and we urge you to take this obligation seriously."

The ministers also questioned the need to keep Article 59 under review while awaiting the results and evaluation of the Support for Migrant Victims (SMV) scheme.

They said: "As the pilot is testing the question of how, not whether, migrant victims and survivors are supported, we are not clear why this would lead you to submit a reservation to Article 59.

"The pilot would appear to be more about operational practice which, while clearly important, does appear secondary to the principle behind Article 59. It is on these grounds that we ask you to withdraw the exemption immediately."

McKelvie said the impact of the exemption also ensured that migrant women who are victims of violence and have no recourse to public funds can’t access traditional support services.

“These are the women who are probably most vulnerable,” she said. “So they should have that support. It feels like that point is about how right wing can you actually be? Let's carve out exemptions that mean if you're a migrant woman and you're a victim of domestic violence, then sorry we can't help you.

“That's just not acceptable at all. I don't understand the reason for it. And I just think again, as part of that hostile environment and that right wing ideology, you know that people coming from other places shouldn't get the same support as anybody else but I believe they should - and these women are already here in the UK.”

A Home Office spokesperson said ratifying the Convention had sent “a strong message that the government is committed to tackling violence against women and girls.

"Anyone who has suffered domestic abuse must be treated as a victim first and foremost, regardless of immigration status, and we will carefully consider the findings of the Support for Migrant Victims Scheme pilot.

"This does not affect a migrant victim's ability to get support and regularise their stay here, and we are providing these victims of domestic abuse with an additional £1.4m in funding for 2022-23."

McKelvie added: “Maybe with a change of government with a new prime minister who comes with a different set of values and ideals, hopefully that change can be delivered, but it's pretty marked that both I in Scotland and the minister in Wales, Jane Hutt, are both singing from the same page here, because we both of us believe in the exact same approach and we're just baffled as to why the UK Government has taken the position it has with some very, very vulnerable people.”

Previously the Scottish and Welsh governments have taken joint stances on immigration, the economy and the Human Rights Act.

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

Schools across the country are holding 'crisis meetings' to consider three-day working weeks amid soaring costs

Schools hold 'crisis talks' to consider three-day weeks as teacher salaries and soaring energy bills cripple budgets

The Met Office have issued weather warnings for thunderstorms across the UK

End of Britain's bake off: Flash flood warnings in place as thunderstorms set to batter UK with torrential rain and hail

Ricardo Dos Santos slams Met after seven armed officer used for stop and search

'He was ready to smash the glass': Ricardo Dos Santos slams Met after 7 armed officers used during stop and search

The youngster was attacked by the Bull Mastiff-type animal (stock picture) in Liverpool.

Boy, 4, suffers life-changing injuries as he's mauled by dog in horrific attack 'at friend's house'

The woman was restrained on a Jet2 flight from Cyprus to Manchester.

Woman 'who stripped to underwear and tried to storm Jet2 cockpit' is restrained by hero dad

Eight people have been injured after a gunman opened fire at a bus stop in Jerusalem.

Gunman opens fire at bus stop in Jerusalem wounding eight people

Food campaigner Jack Monroe spoke with Ben Kentish on LBC.

Jack Monroe hits out at 'tone deaf' Govt and slams energy companies for 'playing us for fools'

Police were called to the incident in Nottingham Road, Ilkeston.

Mum and two kids left 'covered in blood' in brutal dog attack as cops arrest owner

Jerry Sadowitz had his second show cancelled by Edinburgh Fringe.

Comedian Jerry Sadowitz's Edinburgh Fringe show axed by venue bosses for 'unacceptable material'

Salman Rushdie has been taken off his ventilator after he was stabbed on stage in New York.

Salman Rushdie's injuries 'severe' but condition 'heading in right direction' after horror New York stabbing

Rishi Sunak has warned the stabbing of Salman Rushdie should act as a "a wake-up call for the West"

Salman Rushdie stabbing should be a 'wake up call for the West' says Sunak, as he calls for sanctions on Iran

A dog show has come under fire for going ahead in the blistering 35C heat

Dog show slammed for going ahead during 35C heatwave despite RSPCA health warning

Plaid Cymru leader calls for MP Jonathan Edwards to resign after assaulting wife

Plaid Cymru leader calls for MP to 'resign immediately' after receiving police caution for assaulting wife

Firefighters found an unexploded WW2 bomb whilst tackling a huge wildfire sparked by disposable BBQ in Dorset

Firefighters find unexploded WW2 bomb whilst tackling huge blaze sparked by disposable BBQ

JK Rowling has said she is working with the police after receiving a death threat

'You are next': JK Rowling receives death threat after supporting stabbed author Salman Rushdie

Hundreds of households have been without water amid the blistering heat.

Hundreds of households without water as blistering heat set to reach 35C before thunderstorms batter UK