While violence against women and girls cuts across all groups of women, research indicates that migrant, asylum seeking and refugee women are especially at risk of gender based violence.
Violence against women and girls occurs at all stages of migration:
- in home countries prior to migration
- in transit
- and in destination countries.
Women may have left their countries to escape violence; they may have been trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation; they may have migrated for other reasons but experienced GBV in transit and/or in their destination countries. Migrant, refugee and asylum-seeking women experiencing violence have complex and multiple needs. Agencies dealing with violence against women and girls within newly arrived migrant communities must be alert to the complexity of each individual case, listen with an open mind and not make assumptions.
Migrant, asylum seeking and refugee women in the UK are more at risk of an ‘intensified experience’ of violence because their social location makes them less able to access legal and social services which might yield protection. They are more likely to experience gender based violence because of a number of interrelated issues including:
- Language Problems
- Social isolation, shame and stigma
- Insecure immigration status
- Lack of familiarity with law and services
- Inadequate services
Women in new migrant communities can be especially at risk because mainstream Domestic Violence and Gender Based Violence providers lack knowledge and experience of working with women and girls from their communities and their particular and varied needs. Women in newly arrived migrant communities can be hard to reach because of increased social isolation and a lack of embedded established community organisations including those focused on women’s needs. We can learn from the experiences of mainstream providers working with established migrant communities but the needs women in newly migrant communities may be very specific. Their needs will also vary between and within newly arrived migrant communities.
Partnership working is key to meeting the needs of women in newly arrived migrant communities experiencing violence. If you are working with a migrant community group or other agency we advise that you:
- Set aside sufficient time and resources to develop and commit to partnerships
- Be flexible, patient and accommodating of others’ needs, constraints and different working practices
- Attend to the training needs of both partners in developing the partnership and delivering services
- Be mindful of the underpinning power dynamics of your partnership. Who has the money? What kinds of specialist knowledge does each partner have?
- Be aware that you may not be able to meet all women’s complex needs and will need to be able to signpost women to other sources of support
- Be aware that in newly arrived migrant communities community groups may themselves be newly established and very poorly resourced.
You may not be able to meet all women’s complex needs and will need to be able to signpost women to other sources of support. There are some links to other agencies on our Directory page.
You can download this checklist as a PDF from our Resources page.