Jane Hutt, Minister for Social Justice
I welcome the Committee for Equality and Social Justice report Gender Based Violence – Migrant Women and thank the Committee for considering and highlighting the struggles faced by migrant victims of gender-based violence.
Violence against women and girls is far too common and Welsh Government has always been clear about its ambition to end all forms of gender-based abuse. It is a societal problem which requires a societal response; we must continue to challenge attitudes and change behaviours of those who behave abusively.
Refugee, migrant and asylum-seeking women fleeing violence and abuse experience particular challenges and hardships, which were exacerbated through the pandemic. These groups can often face higher levels of violence, not only in their migration journeys, but also because barriers such as age, language, isolation, insecure immigration status and poverty make it more likely they will experience violence and abuse after they reach Wales.
Earlier this year, the Welsh Government published its Violence Against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence (VAWDASV) National Strategy, which outlines how we will continue to work with partners to tackle the gender inequality, misogyny and male violence that are both the cause and consequence of violence and abuse against women. The strategy recognises that the impact of such violence and abuse is not uniform, affecting different people in different ways. Therefore, understanding the equality impacts on an intersectional basis is vital if we are to address the problem for everyone in Wales, including understanding the specific barriers facing migrant women.
The Welsh Government is committed to supporting all victims and survivors of VAWDASV. This includes migrant victims and those with no recourse to public funds. We are working hard with key partners across Wales to ensure that these groups don’t fall through the gaps in strategies designed to support women experiencing abuse.
The Welsh Government has previously made a commitment to protect the rights of migrants and those impacted by VAWDASV and has multiple frameworks and pieces of legislation in place to do so. The Welsh Government is committed to making Wales a Nation of Sanctuary: The Nation of Sanctuary plan contains clear cross-government commitments to reducing the inequalities faced by sanctuary seekers; this includes supporting survivors of VAWDASV.
While progress has been made, additional actions are necessary to meet the needs of those with No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF), to build the capacity of public bodies to support migrant victims of sexual and gender-based violence, and address the isolation experienced by migrant, refugee and asylum-seeking women in Wales.
I whole heartedly agree with the Equality and Social Justice Committee that all women in Wales should have readily available access to support when faced with violence and abuse. The Welsh Government has considered the fifteen recommendations made by the Committee. The responses recognise the need for a cross-government approach, alongside working closely with partner organisations, both devolved and non-devolved. The detailed approach is set out in the Welsh Government response to the Equality and Social Justice Committee’s report on Gender based violence and the needs of migrant women.