Today we share a blog post by the team at the Immigrant Council of Ireland about their work with women experiencing domestic violence.
Excited, nervous, looking forward to new experiences.
Alone, scared, unsure what the future holds. Trapped.
Moving to a new country should be a positive experience; settling in, making new friends and getting on your feet. For some migrant women, this is sadly not the case.
Nobody should have to experience is the panic and fear of domestic violence, particularly when you don’t know who to turn to. When your possible support is in another country, on another continent, along with all your friends and old neighbours. Alone, with an abusive partner.
Unfortunately, some of the women the Immigrant Council of Ireland work with find themselves in this position. We provide an Information & Referral Service for all types of immigration issues. As an NGO with a strong dedication to the eradication of violence against women, we work on a number of gendered issues. One of the areas of focus for our independent law centre is fighting to end trafficking for sexual exploitation. We also provide advice and assistance to women in situations of domestic violence.
Often, the migrant victim of the violence or abuse might feel particularly trapped because of their residency status, or right to live in Ireland and access services. Perhaps they have become undocumented, or entered the country illegally, which can be used as means of control by the abusive partner. Threats of deportation, being told that going to the Gardaí will only lead to them being forcibly removed from Ireland, can make the person too anxious to report violence or abuse to the authorities.
When a woman comes to us, or is referred to us from another service, we meet with her to look at her situation and see what we can do to make things safer and provide some stability. If she is in Ireland because of her partner’s job, this might be in the form of assisting with an application for independent residence rights. If successful, this will allow her to stay in Ireland without needing to deal with the abusive partner.
We work with partners like Women’s Aid, the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, the Women’s refuges and housing services when needed to make sure all of the woman’s needs are being met.
While some temporary administrative policies have been introduced, there is no law that confers independent rights to victims of domestic violence. The Immigrant Council of Ireland is calling on the government to develop a new immigration system, where there are clear laws for complex situations like these.
Women’s safety should be a case-to-case matter. No woman should have to endure abuse out of fear of losing an immigration stamp.
The Immigrant Council's phone lines are open 10am-1pm, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. The phone number is 01 674 0200.
Visit www.Immigrantcouncil.ie for more information.