In 2019, women are still disproportionately affected by exploitation, abuse and violence. And, across the world, people are urging their governments to take bold action to eliminate these risks. This urgency should not diminish when a woman crosses a border.

Yet our immigration system creates new risks for women, placing them at the mercy of partners who abuse the precarity of their immigration status or exploit their lack of familiarity with their new home country, to intimidate or manipulate them. And women without a clear pathway out of irregular immigration status are uniquely vulnerable to trafficking and slavery.

Governments must introduce robust, proactive, gender-specific protections for migrant women. When we create a safe and supportive environment for women who move, the positive effects ripple out into all our communities.

40% of migrant women who had been in an abusive relationship, stayed in the relationship for
more than five years out of fear of deportation.

Imkaan, Vital Statistics 2 (2012)

Our recommendations

  • Protect victims of abuse from detention or removal so that they cannot be threatened with either by their partners
  • Decriminalise undocumented working and protect undocumented workplace whistleblowers so that migrant women are safe from abuse and exploitation in the informal economy
  • Guarantee victims of gender-based violence and exploitation access to adequate support, regardless of their immigration status
  • Proactively inform women within the asylum system of their rights, so that they can protect themselves, and if necessary separate their asylum application from their partner’s
  • Recruit and train female caseworkers and provide counselling to women who disclose sexual or gender-based violence

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