Act now! Abolish the ‘no recourse’ rule for abused women

Every year, hundreds of migrant women face domestic violence from their partners or families in the UK.

Many abusers exploit these women’s insecure immigration status as a tool to control their victims and conceal their crimes.  They know that their victims will not report their crimes to the authorities out of fear of deportation to their countries of origin, where (as divorced or separated women) they potentially face severe persecution and social rejection.

The ‘no recourse’ requirement in immigration law bars anyone who enters the UK through marriage to a British citizen from accessing any public housing or benefits until they have full British citizenship.  This means that for at least two years, a woman is potentially completely financially dependent on her husband or partner – unless she is allowed or able to work.

This rule affects victims of domestic violence unfairly, because it means that they have nowhere to escape to – they have no rights to public money to help them escape or pay for refuge accommodation.  In a majority of cases, abusers will not allow a woman to work to earn her own money.

Many of these women also face language and cultural barriers and will not be allowed to integrate with the wider community, so they suffer intense isolation.

They face a stark choice – stay and risk their lives, or leave and face destitution.

The law does make a concession for victims of domestic violence, which, in theory, states that women who can prove that they have been abused will be given indefinite leave to remain in the UK and be allowed to access the support services they need.

In practice, very few women can provide evidence (such as police or doctors’ reports) of domestic violence – let alone women who suffer the extreme isolation that many ‘no recourse’ women experience.

Join the campaign to abolish the no recourse requirement for women experiencing domestic violence.

Act now!

Find out more – download the campaign leaflet