Ministers urge Home Office to reinstate protections for migrant women from gender-based violence

Scottish and Welsh ministers have made a joint call for the UK to extend safeguards against gender-based violence to migrant women.

The move came after the Home Office announced partial ratification of the Istanbul Convention, a landmark European treaty on protecting women from violence.

The convention obliges signatories to take steps to tackle violence against women and girls, but Article 59, which protects migrant women, has not been included by the UK Government.

Scotland’s equalities minister Christina McKelvie and Welsh social justice minister Jane Hutt (pictured) have written a joint letter to the UK’s safeguarding minister, Amanda Solloway, urging her to “do the right thing by migrant women” by ratifying Article 59.

Ms McKelvie and Ms Hutt wrote: “We’d like to take this opportunity to re-state the Scottish and Welsh governments’ disappointment with this decision and to urge you again to do the right thing by migrant women and ensure that they are offered the same protection as other women in this country.

“A key element of the Istanbul Convention is the obligation it places on states to implement its provisions without discrimination on any grounds and we urge you to take this obligation seriously.”

The ministers also questioned the need to keep Article 59 under review while awaiting the results and evaluation of the Support for Migrant Victims (SMV) scheme.

They said: “As the pilot is testing the question of how, not whether, migrant victims and survivors are supported, we are not clear why this would lead you to submit a reservation to Article 59.

“The pilot would appear to be more about operational practice which, while clearly important, does appear secondary to the principle behind Article 59.

“It is on these grounds that we ask you to withdraw the exemption immediately.”

Ms McKelvie and Ms Hutt suggested that should the decision not be reversed, a “window of opportunity” should be made available in which a policy agreement “that works for all nations” can be arranged.

They added: “We recognise that ratification itself is a prerogative power exercised by UK ministers.

“Nonetheless, this treaty gives rise to obligations in devolved areas and we would wish to discuss with you how this can be reconciled.”

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