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Undocumented migrant women’s right to protection from violence

[Brussels, 29 June 2012] Undocumented women who are survivors of domestic violence lack access to support, shelter and justice. Victims often face deportation if they report abuse and are therefore denied their basic rights. Members of the European Parliament on 21 June took up this issue. “When looking at access to justice, the focus should be on the crime and not the status of the victim” said MEP Jean Lambert.

The event was organised at the European Parliament for the launch of PICUM’s seminal report "Violence Against Undocumented Women in Europe - Protecting Rights and Ensuring Justice". The EWL was pleased to see such a large audience to discuss the important issue of violence against undocumented women migrants,

Presenting the report was Georg Joseph Head of Migration Department, Caritas Sweden and Member of the PICUM Board. Mr. Joseph emphasised the practicality PICUM’s seminal report. The report highlights both the importance in informing women about their rights as well as explicit measures on how to protect undocumented women migrant’s rights. Undocumented women who are survivors of domestic violence lack access to support, shelter and justice. PICUM’s report gives the example of France where a survey was carried out monitoring 75 police stations in Paris. Over 30 percent of these police stations would start deportation proceedings immediately after an undocumented woman reports being subjected to violence.

Further, MEP Jean Lambert highlighted the importance of research on how to improve current procedures concerning women migrants. Small changes in processes can make a major difference for these women; e.g. not having the husbands in the room during an interview. Women must be seen as independent individuals. The EWL fully supports the need for more research and an exchange of successful practices between member states regarding the rights of undocumented women migrants.

Moreover, Trifa Shakey from the Swedish network “no one is illegal” presented the organisation’s new campaign named “Ain’t I a woman” raising awareness on the lack of rights of undocumented migrant women. Shakey argues that these women often do not report acts of violence to the police out of fear of being deported. Perpetrators abusing undocumented migrant women are aware of this; they know that it is too big a risk for the woman to go to the police and therefore they can do what they want. “No one is illegal” have long been working for women shelters in Sweden to take in undocumented migrant women in need of protection. Today they have been successful in three of the largest cities in Sweden: Goteborg, Malmo and Eskilstuna. The municipalities are now financing women shelters in these cities to take in undocumented migrant women.

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