BME and migrant women experience higher rates of domestic homicide, are more likely to be living in a deprived area or in poverty (40% live in poverty) and have more experience of the State care system than any other women in the UK. Of BME women who experience violence only 37% make a formal report to the police and over one in four BME women have no recourse to public funds (Imkaan, Vital Statistics, 2010). BME victims of violence are more likely to lack knowledge and information about the UK justice system, and those who seek legal help experience huge difficulty accessing specialist legal advice given cuts to legal aid, ‘no recourse to public funds’ rules, and a lack of regional lawyers with an understanding of BME women’s issues.
Sisters For Change has been working in partnership with BME women’s sector in the UK since January 2015, strengthening the legal capacity of BME frontline service providers, building confidence in using law as a tool to achieve better social outcomes and remedies for BME women victims of violence, and enhancing the capacity of the BME women’s sector to monitor State obligations under domestic and international human rights law.
We launched our 2017 report, Unequal Regard, Unequal Protection: Public authority responses to violence against Black and Minority Ethnic women in England the House of Lords in London. Produced in collaboration with five BME Violence Against Women service providers – Angelou Centre (Newcastle), Apna Haq (Rotherham), Panahghar (Coventry & Leicester), Ashiana (Sheffield) and London Black Women’s Project (London), the report presents the most extensive analysis of public authority responses to violence against BME women to date, with a scope that ranges from an evaluation of current practices of commissioning and funding of BME VAW service providers, to a legal analysis of the weaknesses and failings in current public authority and criminal justice responses to BME victims of domestic abuse and slavery, domestic homicide, trafficking and child sexual exploitation.
We continue to work with several BME and related partners and networks in England, and launched a new programme focusing on Manchester in 2018. We continue to advocate at the national and local level for enhanced funding and criminal justice support for BME and migrant women survivors of violence.
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