By Micah Lee
London – The Metropolitan Police held a ‘Domestic Abuse Awareness’ workshop at the Philippine Embassy (UK) on 29th March 2023. This was a first and momentous event, given how taboo the topic of ‘domestic abuse’ is within the Filipino community.
In March 2022 to February 2023, 150,316 incidents of domestic abuse were reported to the Metropolitan Police.
Having worked in immigration and family law, I’ve become familiar with clients subjected to domestic abuse. For many, their right to remain in the UK is based on their relationship with their partner who are either British nationals or have settled status in the UK. Therefore, their visa is only valid for as long as the relationship is ongoing. However, if the relationship has broken down, their visa can be cancelled by the Home Office. Clearly, this poses a big problem for victims of domestic abuse. There is a power imbalance, and it can leave victims feeling as though they have no choice but to remain in an abusive relationship.
This is a problem recognised by the Home Office. In which case, victims can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain as a victim of domestic violence. This option is available whilst their visa is ongoing or even if they have overstayed their visa. They must meet the relevant requirements and provide evidence set out in the Home Office Guidance: ‘Victims of Domestic Violence and Abuse’ (Version 15.0).
Over the last few years, the news, social media and government reports have highlighted the institutional failings of the Metropolitan Police. There is undeniably a disconnect between the police and victims of domestic abuse. For instance, many undocumented migrants don’t approach the police for help due to fear of deportation and reports of stalking and harassment not being taken seriously.
There are changes introduced over the last few years that aim to bridge that gap. This includes – the statutory time limit to report common assault has increased from 6 months to 2 years and there is a duty on the government to issue a code of practice on how data is shared between the public services survivors report to (e.g. police) and immigration and enforcement.
There are many layers to this topic and the workshop was just the beginning. The primary purpose of the event was to raise awareness and to give us a better understanding of what can be done to support victims of domestic abuse.
Thank you to the Philippine Embassy and the Metropolitan Police for holding this incredibly important event.
Photos by: Ernie Delgado