Jo yesterday met with Amnesty International activists in Parliament to lend her support to their Stop Violence Against Women campaign.
Jo joined Amnesty International campaigners in calling on the Government to exempt women suffering from domestic violence from the ‘no recourse to public funds’ rule, which prevents hundreds of women from escaping to refuges.
The rule means that many women, such as those on student visas, temporary work permits or spousal visas, are trapped in a cycle of abuse because their immigration status means they cannot seek protection at women’s refuges.
The Liberal Democrats recently launched their ‘Real Women’ campaign, which sets out policies aimed at improving women’s lives. The campaign backs Amnesty’s calls for the Government to exempt women suffering domestic violence from the ‘no recourse to public funds’ rule in order to afford them basic protection.
Jo also co-sponsored a Parliamentary motion this week backing the United Nations’ United Campaign to End Violence Against Women.
Commenting, Jo said:
“No woman in the UK, regardless of her immigration status, should be subject to violence in her own home. It is ridiculous that UK law should prevent so many women from getting access to basic levels of protection from violence.
“I was delighted to welcome Amnesty International campaigners to Westminster today and I fully support their campaign to end violence against women. This is a simple matter of human rights, and the Government should be doing all it can to make sure that all women in the UK enjoy those rights, whether or not they are British citizens.”
Amnesty International’s Stop Violence Against Women Campaign Manager Heather Harvey said:
“Despite some Government effort to tackle this problem, it is still falling short of its international obligations to protect all women living in its jurisdiction. Women affected by the ‘no recourse’ rule are among the most vulnerable here in the UK because they literally have no alternative if they want to escape their place of violence.
“We know of several cases where frightened, abused and vulnerable women turn up at a refuge and workers there have no choice but to close the door on them because they are unable to access the government funding which would guarantee her a place in a refuge.
“Of course refuge workers don’t want to turn away these women but they are already stretched to the limit of their funds and so cannot afford to take in women at an additional cost to themselves.”
“Clearly the situation for women affected by violence is far from adequate. This is what we want to convey to our MPs today and we hope that the Government will heed the messages coming from MPs and interested members of the general public.”