Forgotten Women: Domestic violence, poverty and South Asian women with No Recourse to Public Funds | Domestic Violence

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This report documents research findings relevant to understanding the experiences of South Asian women who have survived domestic violence and who have No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF), the “forgotten women”. This study was sponsored by Oxfam GB, with additional contributions from Care Services Improvement Partnership North West (CSIP NW) and the University of Huddersfield. The research was undertaken by Saheli, a specialist South Asian Domestic Violence Project based in Manchester, working with women with No Recourse to Public Funds in crisis and needing refuge. The overall aim of the study was to contribute to policy-making and service provision for such women.
  Forgotten Women: Domestic Violence, Poverty and SouthAsian Women with No Recourse to PublicFunds Research Report Sundari AnithawithPriya Chopra, Waheeda Farouk,Qamar Haq and Saliya Khan March 2008 forgottenwomen 10/3/08 2:58 pm Page 1  2 Forgotten women: Domestic Violence, Poverty and South Asian Women with No Recourse to Public Funds Contact:Saheli PO Box 44, S.D.O., Manchester M20 4BJTel: 0161-945 4187E-mail: saheliltd@btconnect.comCopyright Saheli 2008 forgottenwomen 10/3/08 2:58 pm Page 2  Forgotten women: Domestic Violence, Poverty and South Asian Women with No Recourse to Public Funds 3The women in the pages which follow are srcinally from South Asia. Their marriages to mensettled in Britain broke down because of domestic violence within the so-called ‘probationaryperiod’ of two years. As a result, they and their children face a stark choice: deportation totheir country of srcin where, because they were sent back ‘in disgrace’, they would be subjectto further violence and abuse; remaining in the UK, homeless, destitute and in danger ofsexual abuse and exploitation; or, of course, they could return to the abusers they left in thefirst place. The report focuses on women who have approached agencies in the North West and Yorkshireregions of England and who were interviewed between January and June 2007. However, itsfindings are of national relevance; the experiences reflect those of women throughout the UK.Also, immigration rules such as NRPF create an inherent power imbalance in every relationshipwhere one partner is a UK citizen and the other is not.The experiences documented here are familiar to frontline workers at black, asian and minorityethnic women’s refuges. Women and children facing NRPF, often deeply traumatised bydomestic violence, regularly arrive at these refuges after being turned away by a number ofother agencies. Too often refuges are forced to turn women away because they do not havethe funds to house them.Why is this happening? And why is it happening under a government which has declared itselfcommitted to combating violence against women? Why is so much money, time and energyspent on profiling and punishing perpetrators of ‘Honour killings’ and so little onstrengthening the courageous but often extremely vulnerable women who confront theseforms of violence? These are the questions we are left with as we read through ForgottenWomen…Forgotten Women… leaves us wondering also about the notion of human rights: what doesit include if not basic safety and the resources essential for survival? Amrit Wilson Chair of Imkaan Foreword forgottenwomen 10/3/08 2:58 pm Page 3  I was hiding in the park. A woman found me there and called the police. The policewoman could notunderstand me, but she was very nice to me... They got someone who could speak Urdu and I stayed at the police station for a few hours. Then they took me to social people (social services), who are helping me. Idon't know about my future but I am safe, I am alive and he is not hurting me anymore.I think it is very difficult for Asian women to find information and support. The community still blames thewoman. She is expected to put up with anything her husband does. We have to ring so many agencies. Somerefuges don't have space. Many who do, don't takewomen like me. I have had to ring many people and they all gave different information. There are no leafletsor guidelines available. 4 Forgotten women: Domestic Violence, Poverty and South Asian Women with No Recourse to Public Funds forgottenwomen 10/3/08 2:58 pm Page 4
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