Keywords: Undocumented Women
16 Days of Action Campaign 2013: Facts on Violence against Undocumented Migrant Women
Violence against women is a major violation of a woman’s human rights. Every year on 25 November, the international community observes the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.
All women have the right to live a life free of violence. This is an inalienable right to which all measures to address gender-based violence refer. No one deserves to be assaulted and there should always be help for those who need it. To overcome challenges to report violence, measures have been introduced to ensure survivors are treated in a secure and appropriate manner. Informed and impartial safeguards have been developed to tackle impunity and bring perpetrators to justice. The right to come forward and the protections that accompany it have, however, been denied to a certain group of women. Undocumented women are excluded, disadvantaged, and somewhat unpopular. Their existence in society has been considered illegitimate, so the violence against them has been disregarded and their access to justice denied. Yet it is in limiting these basic rights and protections, that society delegitimises their very basis.
For this reason, PICUM will support the 16 Days of Action Campaign 2013 by publishing a one fact on violence against undocumented migrant women on each of the 16 days. The 16 Days of Action Campaign runs from the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on 25 November until Human Rights Day on 10 December which commemorates the United Nations General Assembly’s adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.
You can follow and share the daily facts on twitter with the hash tag #16days through @PICUM_post
Undocumented women’s rights are human rights
Fact 1: 25 November
- Having ratified UN Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against All Women (CEDAW), all EU member states are obliged to address all forms of discrimination against all women without exception. To read the CEDAW, click here.
Fact 2: 26 November
- The lack of data on immigration status-based violence fuels a lack of recognition, response, and responsibility for undocumented women’s realities.
Fact 3: 27 November
- Undocumented migrant women are frequently the main wage earner and often negotiate on behalf of their families and communities with the social, educational and health systems.
Routes to irregularity
Fact 4, 28 November
- Migrant women who are subject to violence, exploitation or misinformation, can easily find themselves in an undocumented situation with no possibility to re-regularise.
Fact 5: 29 November
- The majority of undocumented women arrive to Europe with a regular, but often highly dependent migration status and become undocumented for reasons outside of their own control.
Fact 6: 30 November
- Violence can be a reason for women to migrate, it can be the cause of their irregular status and it can be a consequence of their unprotected status.
Violence against Undocumented Migrant Women
Fact 7: 1 December
- Of 98 sub-Saharan women interviewed in Morocco and Spain, 45 suffered violence during their journey, 8 specifically stated they had been raped and only 10 said they had suffered no violence.
Source: PICUM report “Strategies to End Double Violence Against Undocumented Women - Protecting Rights and Ensuring Justice”, page 42; Women’s Link Worldwide.
Fact 8: 2 December
- While many women leave their home countries in a bid to achieve justice and equality, the discriminatory policies which govern the migration process often disempower them. An IMKAAN (UK) survey of 183 women with an insecure migration status seeking support for violence, found that 92% reported threats of deportation from the perpetrator.
Sources: PICUM report “Strategies to End Double Violence Against Undocumented Women - Protecting Rights and Ensuring Justice”, page 37; Ravi K. Thiara and Sumanta Roy “Vital Statistics The experiences of Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic & Refugee women & children facing violence & abuse”, Imkaan, 2010.
Fact 9: 3 December
- Data from University Hospital of Geneva found that undocumented migrant women were over 10 times more exposed to violence during their pregnancy (11% vs 1%, OR 8.6 (2.4;30.6)) when compared to women with a regular status.
Sources: PICUM,"Strategies to End Double Violence Against Undocumented Women - Protecting Rights and Ensuring Justice”, page 38; Wolff et al. “Undocumented migrants lack access to pregnancy care and prevention”.
Fact 10: 4 December
- In some countries, women with irregular status risk deportation if they contact the police & face barriers to access women’s refuges.
La Cimade survey (2010): 38% of Parisian police stations would arrest undocumented woman reporting violence, in 5% she couldn’t even lodge a complaint.
Fact 11: 5 December
- Often confined to informal and low-wage sectors, many undocumented women experience severe exploitation and violence at their work place.
Research from California, USA found that 80% of undocumented women farm workers had experienced sexual harassment.
Fact 12: 6 December
- Rules which govern the entry, residence and employment of migrant women often limit their ability to access social housing, the labour market, financial support, and women’s shelters and services. While such policies are developed under the guise of reducing ‘abuse of immigration rules’, these rules actually fuel abuse of migrant women residing on spouse-dependent, family reunification, student or temporary work visas as well as those who are undocumented.
For more information see: PICUM “Strategies to End Double Violence Against Undocumented Women - Protecting Rights and Ensuring Justice”.
Immigration control, detention and deportation
Fact 13: 7 December
- Immigration control mechanisms are being used by perpetrators to abuse women in Europe with impunity.
As one undocumented women recounted in an interview with PICUM, “I told him to stop but he laughed and said, ‘What will you do, call the police?’”(PICUM interview, Strategies to End Double Violence Against Undocumented Women - Protecting Rights and Ensuring Justice p.101).
Fact 14: 8 December
- In the EU, pregnant undocumented women can be detained despite detrimental consequences for their health.
Medical Justice (UK) surveyed 20 detained pregnant women: 2 had become pregnant while in detention, 2 had twin pregnancies (one subsequently lost a twin), 2 other women had miscarriages and one had a stillbirth.
What should be done?
Fact 15: 9 December
- Service providers should not be required to share personal data of undocumented migrants with immigration enforcement agents or turn away women in need. Such a ‘firewall’ can ensure that human dignity and fundamental rights are guaranteed.
Source: “Strategies to End Double Violence Against Undocumented Women - Protecting Rights and Ensuring Justice”, page 123.
Fact 16: 10 December
- The EU Victims’ Directive obliges member states to ensure minimum rights for all victims of all crimes irrespective of residence status. Adopted in October 2012, this legally binding Directive must be transposed by member states into national law by 15 November 2015. The detailed rights and protections provided to victims of crime by this Directive apply to all victims irrespective of residence status.