Contribute: Protest Against No Recourse To Public Funds

12Oct09

Amnesty International UK is organising a mass lobby of parliament on 4 November 2009 to lobby MPs at Westminster on the No Recourse to Public Funds Rule.

Many women come to the UK, often legally, in the hope of improving their lives. They may come on temporary work permits, student visas or spousal visas. Some women come to the UK to marry. The ‘no recourse to public funds’ rule says that a woman in this position – even if she’s married to a British citizen – is not entitled to certain state benefits, including housing benefit and income support.

But these are the benefits a woman must be able to claim to get a place in a refuge if she needs to escape violence. As a result, many newly-married women in the UK are trapped in violent marriages and even if they do muster the courage to seek help from the authorities, they are simply turned away.

The UK government has taken significant steps to address violence against women – particularly domestic violence. In its paper on domestic violence ‘Safety and Justice’, the Home Office recognised that support and accommodation to victims of domestic violence was ‘life saving and critical’. So the UK government knows it is in the wrong when it fails to protect women arriving in the UK

We believe that the government position puts the UK in breach of international human rights standards to which it has signed up. The Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) says clearly that states must respect, protect and fulfil all women’s human rights, regardless of immigration status or any other factor.

What are we doing about this?

Amnesty International UK has joined its voice with the voices of these women, the refuge workers and the many black and minority ethnic women’s groups who have been campaigning and lobbying for years on this subject. We are all calling on the UK government to:

  • Allow refuges the funds they need to protection from violence to all
    women suffering abuse.
  • Provide for an exemption to the ‘no recourse’ rule to ensure women
    are not forced to remain with a violent partner.
  • Develop an integrated strategy for violence against women so as to
    minimise the chance of policy contradictions undermining women’s
    rights.

See the Women’s Resource Centres extensive list of possible actions.

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