Migrant victims of domestic violence are being given a voice through a campaign launched by a Southall non-profit organisation.

Southall Black Sisters (SBS), in collaboration with Latin American Women’s Rights Service (LAWRS), have launched the 16 Days of Activism campaign on the 25th of November, by sharing a poem, letter or testimony from a migrant woman victim of domestic violence.

It aims to give visibility to the women who are trapped in abusive situations due to their immigration status.

Janaya Walker, SBS Legal, Policy and Campaigns Officer, said: “There is a real sharp end of what immigration policies are in this country and a lot of that is felt by survivors of abuse.

“The campaign gives people the opportunity to hear the voices and experiences of the migrant women themselves about the ways in which they have been impacted by the abuse and the tremendous barriers that they face in terms of finding safety, while also paying testament to their courage, to their character and to their demands for change.”

SBS have been tweeting throughout the 16 days, using those tweets to tell the stories of the victims. 

According to Walker, the biggest challenge to migrant women is the No Recourse to Public Funds condition (NRPF), applied to people subject to immigration control, which excludes a person from accessing welfare, including universal credit and social housing.

She added that hostile environment policies, such as data sharing between the police and the Home Office, also play a role in preventing women to speak out.

Janaya said: “So many are terrified of going to any frontline services to seek help, because they fear that rather than being treated as victims, they are going to be treated as immigration offenders, and they’re going to be detained and separated from their children.

“That’s one of the key reasons why women are trapped in these circumstances of abuse where the violence escalates much more than it needed to.”

In addition to campaigning for the inclusion of migrants in the Domestic Abuse Bill, SBS provides holistic support to victims, including counselling, English classes and peer support.

The testimonies shared in the campaign were collected by different organizations, including Hillingdon Women’s Centre (HWC), a charity for victims of domestic abuse.

Vicky Lechuga, HWC Centre Manger, said: “All human beings, regardless of immigration status should be protected, and their safety should come first.

“If someone you know is going through this listen, don’t be judgmental and mostly find the right services. Don’t think that you have to do it all by yourself.”