Migrants and domestic violence

 

Sir, – Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman this week published the interim report of the Independent Anti-Racism Committee.

As a migrant woman and a member of the We Are Here Too Campaign, I welcome the fact that the committee took an interest in migrant women who are victimised by domestic violence and gender-based violence.

The report found that minority women face “an extra and therefore discriminatory burden of additional barriers” in accessing support services.

It is highly disappointing to see, however, that the report focuses primarily on access to services. It does not examine enough how the Irish immigration system enables domestic violence inflicted on migrant women.

Migrant women represent the vast majority of people on spousal-dependent visas (“Stamp 3”). Their immigration status is dependent on their spouse, and they are legally forbidden from working.

In that situation, leaving an abusive relationship is very difficult, if not impossible at times.

Migrant women on Stamp 3 are pushed by the State into a situation where they are vulnerable to domestic violence and abuse. While current policy allows for migrant women in abusive relationships to apply for legal residence status independent of their abuser, I question whether the State really needs to push women through the horror and trauma of domestic violence before recognising their rights to an independent legal status and autonomy.

There is something inherently wrong with any system that is awarding so much legal power to men over women. There is something inherently wrong in the Irish system that requires migrant women to earn recognition of their legal autonomy by subjecting them to violence and abuse first.

The State cannot claim a full commitment to gender equality and ending domestic violence when it is the State’s policies that make migrant women vulnerable to domestic abuse and violence. While the State is currently accepting submissions to the Anti-Racism Committee on this issue, let’s not forget that it’s not only about the remedies but prevention too.

Let’s end laws that make it easier for domestic violence to happen. Let’s end Stamp 3. – Yours, etc,

TERESA BUCZKOWSKA,

Integration Manager,

Immigrant Council

of Ireland,

Dublin 11.