Abolish No Recourse to Public Funds; End Violence Against Women!
A call for direct action!
Support the Day of Action: 23 April 2008
Leading women’s groups and charities including Southall Black Sisters, Amnesty International UK, National Women’s Aid (England), Refuge, Imkaan, Newham Asian Women’s Project, Women’s Resource Centre and many others, are calling for a day of mass action on 23 April 2007, to protest against the existence of the ‘No Recourse to Public Funds’ requirement which causes immense suffering and hardship to women who do not have secure immigration status and who experience domestic violence.
Enhancing the power of abusers
Evidence from around the country shows that the ‘no recourse’ requirement forces women with unsettled status to endure the most horrific abuse imaginable: imprisonment in the home, slavery, starvation and acute mental distress are significant features of such abuse. The ‘no recourse’ requirement enhances the power of violent perpetrators and allows them to abuse with impunity whilst at the same time increasing the vulnerability of the unsettled spouse or partner. Yet when women seek help from statutory and voluntary service providers, they are often denied the options – safe housing and welfare service provisions – that are available to abused women in the wider society because they are not entitled to access public funds due to their immigration status. The result is that these women face a stark choice: either to stay in their abusive relationships and risk their lives or leave and risk extreme poverty, destitution, financial and sexual exploitation.
Subverting the ethos of the voluntary sector and the spirit of zero tolerance!
The failure of the government to heed calls to abolish or at the very least reform the ‘no recourse’ requirement has also led to widespread anger, dissatisfaction and frustration amongst service providers including women’s refuges and the police, because they are compelled to turn abused women away and deny them life saving services. This denial subverts the very ethos of service provision especially in the voluntary sector; to protect and support all women in the face oaf abuse and to uphold their human rights and dignity, irrespective of their backgrounds. Worse still, abused women with ‘No Recourse’ are increasingly forced to rely on help from strangers and religious institutions. Whilst some are genuinely helpful, it is widely recognised that this is an inappropriate and even dangerous approach that would not be tolerated as a domestic violence strategy in the wider society.
End Double standards
Despite waging a long campaign against ‘no recourse’, the lack of an adequate response from the government has led a wide range of organisations to call for direct action. There is a growing momentum within the voluntary sector and caring services for something to be done to change the present situation.
We therefore call on you to help build the biggest mass movement this country has seen against the ‘no recourse’ requirement. We need to show the government that the voluntary sector, the police and the caring services cannot be taken for granted. The human rights of black and minority women who do not have secure immigration status are not dispensable. Enough is Enough!
What you can do:
We call on all front-line service providers and their users to join our protest in London on 23 April 2008. We will be providing further advice and information on how your organisation can take part in the day of action over the coming months. In the meantime, please ensure that you have affiliated to the campaign and put the 23 April 2008 in your diary;
Whatever the nature of your organisation, we ask you to consider providing only a skeletal emergency service on 23 April 2007 so that you can join us. We ask you to suspend all non-urgent services for that day but ensure that emergency cover is in place and that issues of health and safety are not compromised;
If you are attending the day of action public meeting in London, will you please make an appointment with your MP so that you can lobby him/her in the House of Commons
If you are a refuge you may be interested to know that housing associations have no objection to the day of action as long as health and safety requirements are met and all staff are aware of the procedures to follow including in an emergency;
If you are unable to attend the day of action in London on 23 April, we strongly encourage you to still take part in the day of action by considering the following:
Take part in an email campaign. Send emails to your local MP and get him/her to raise questions with Harriet Harman MP Deputy leader of the Labour Party; Hazel Blears MP Secretary of State for Department of Communities and Local Government; John Dunworth MP Head of Interpersonal Violence Home Office and others in the Ministry of Justice; Department of Work and Pensions and leaders of relevant departments at your local authority such as directors and assistance directors of essential services, commissioners, lead officers of the Supporting People Programme etc.
Organise high profile joint activities with others in your locality to highlight ‘no recourse’.
Organise press releases for the campaign in your area highlighting the ‘no recourse’ issue; how your users are affected and the demands of the campaign.
Please let SBS know what activities you are planning. (Contact details are set out below)
Please also show your support by:
* Lobbying your own MP on the issue
* Affiliate to the campaign. Leaflets with tear off slips are available from SBS (See contact details below) or go the Southall Black Sisters website: http://www.southallblacksisters.org.uk
Donate to the campaign. Make all cheques payable to the ‘Abolish No Recourse Campaign’. Return to Southall Black Sisters (SBS), 21 Avenue Road, Southall, Middlesex, UB1 3BL.
Tel: 0208 571 9595.
Fax: 0208 574 6781