Launched by the Minister for Local Government and Government Business, Lesley Griffiths AM, the ‘Uncharted Territory’ report identifies how women and girls facing extreme violence and exploitation are either too afraid to report the violence, cannot access a women’s refuge because of their immigration status, or are unaware of what support is available to them.
The research highlights how women and girls within asylum-seeker, refugee and migrant communities continue to face levels of domestic violence which are likely to be comparable to, if not greater than, those affecting Welsh women.
The ‘Uncharted Territory’ report explores what factors cause violence, and the experiences of support services in Wales, with many participants identifying instances of domestic abuse, human trafficking, forced marriage and female genital mutilation.
A key finding within the report is that many asylum-seeking, refugee and migrant women and girls face numerous barriers to accessing support, some of which stem from their communities and cultural pressures, but also because many migrant women do not have access to public funds and so face the stark choice of becoming destitute or staying with their abuser.
Report authors Dr Amanda Robinson and Joanne Payton from the School of Social Sciences at Cardiff University and Anne Hubbard from Wales Strategic Migration Partnership, are now calling on the Welsh Government, Home Office, Police, Social Services and communities themselves to ‘ask some of the difficult questions’ as to why women and girls continue to face violence and what can be done to address the serious issues the report identifies.
Anne Hubbard, Director of the Wales Migration Partnership said:
“This report offers important evidence about the experiences of women from asylum-seeker, refugee and migrant communities in Wales on the level and nature of violence that they have experienced or are being threatened with. It demonstrates that while the Welsh Government is developing very progressive legislation and policy on domestic abuse, violence within these communities remains a taboo subject with the threat of severe consequences from family and community if victims report this crime to the necessary authorities.
“Many of the women involved in this research told us that they feel that services put their immigration status before their needs, and so this report makes several important recommendations that will not only help to improve how this crime is reported and prosecuted, but also how victims are supported and protected. We hope these recommendations will be acted upon by the wide variety of agencies involved in tackling this serious crime.”
‘Uncharted Territory’ makes several recommendations for the Home Office in relation to interviewing women and girls who have experienced violence, including calling on a review of Home Office guidelines and training on conducting the asylum interview.
The report also calls for Welsh Government, in the context of its ground-breaking work on Domestic Abuse, to ensure that all women in Wales share the right to be safe by taking steps to extend the protections enjoyed by the majority of women to the most vulnerable women and girls in Wales.
The full report and Executive Summary can be downloaded from the Wales Migration Partnership website: www.wmp.org.uk