A stark choice

  • October 26, 2012
A stark choice

Immigrant women with insecure status who suffer domestic violence face a stark choice: staying with their abuser or living in destitution.

Women with uncertain immigration status who experience domestic violence face a a stark choice – living in destitution or being forced to stay with their abuser.

Their plight has been little studied, but it will be discussed at an event on Saturday as part of this year’s Cambridge Festival of Ideas.

The Violence Against Women: Preventions and Responses session will explore both the international and UK context of violence against women, from international frameworks on violence against women to sexual violence in the UK and ‘rape myths’.

Gates Cambridge Scholar Halliki Voolma will talk about her research on the vulnerable position of women with uncertain immigration status who are subjected to domestic violence. She says the extent of the problem has received little attention because it is not prioritised by the Government and because some of the women cannot access support due to restrictive immigration policies. She believes many are suffering in silence due to fear that coming forward would mean living in destitution.

She wants to see more awareness of the issue and greater efforts to let women know of the support available. Every individual and organisation she spoke to for her research mentioned the need for better communication about the support on offer. She says: “They all talk about the language barrier and the need for awareness raising or language training. These women are doubly vulnerable because of the violence they have suffered and their immigration status.”

Halliki [2011], who is doing a PhD in Multi-Disciplinary Gender Studies, came to the subject through an innovative community-based project set up by the University of Cambridge and Cambridge Women’s Aid, which now has a European dimension. She will also talk about her experience at UN Women in the summer at Saturday’s event and Norah Al-Ani from Cambridge Rape Crisis Centre will speak about sexual violence in the UK.

The session, which will be followed by a discussion, will be chaired by Dr Gemma Burgess from the Department of Land Economy.

Violence Against Women: Preventions and Responses takes place at the Lucia Windsor Room, Newnham College, on 27 October, 12noon-1.15pm. Prebook at www.cam.ac.uk/festivalofideas.

Picture credit: Nutdanai Apikhomboonwaroot and www.freedigitalphotos.net.

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