Hackney MP warns against ‘one size fits all policy’ in future domestic abuse services

Hackney South and Shoreditch MP Meg Hillier. Picture: Stefano Cagnoni

Hackney South and Shoreditch MP Meg Hillier. Picture: Stefano Cagnoni - Credit: Archant

A Hackney MP says it is “essential” that domestic abuse services understand and reflect cultural differences and the needs of victims with different backgrounds and ethnic identities.

Meg Hillier MP for Hackney South and Shoreditch spoke about the additional barriers that black and minority ethnic women face when seeking support services at a parliamentary adjournment debate on June 30.

In Hackney, since July 2017, 169 women and 146 children have been placed in refuges. Of the 169 women, 110 were black or minority ethnic, according to Hackney Council.

“Clearly, it is essential services listen to and reflect the needs and cultural differences of different communities,” Ms Hillier said.

READ MORE: Domestic violence charity Sistah Space marks five years since the murders of ‘community giant’ Valerie Forde and her baby daughter .

In 2019 alone, an estimated 2.4 million adults aged 16 to 74 had experienced domestic abuse, according the Crime Survey for England and Wales. 1.6 million were women and 786,000 men.

An Office For National Statistics domestic abuse overview in England and Wales (2019) reported women with mixed or multiple ethnicity as more likely to experience partner abuse than any other ethnic group.

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Asian or Asian British women were the least likely to be victims and black or black British women were about three per cent more likely than white women to be victims.

Domestic violence charities like Women’s Aid and Hackney’s Sistah Space report that BAME women may be more susceptible to particular forms of abuse like forced marriage or female genital mutilation (FGM). They may also face particular barriers when seeking help.

READ MORE: Hackney domestic violence charity fears services for victims could be impacted in premises dispute.

Ms Hillier said: “It is essential future funding systems for domestic abuse understand that a one size fits all policy will not address the problems currently within the sector.

“The Domestic Abuse Bill is our chance to ensure that all women receive the same level of support no matter their ethnicity or immigration status.”

The government reintroduced the Domestic Abuse Bill in parliament in March 2020 to raise awareness about domestic abuse, improve the effectiveness of the justice system and systems of support for victims.

Victoria Atkins MP, Minister for Safeguarding said: “Domestic abuse is an abhorrent crime perpetrated on victims and their families by those who should love and care for them. [The] landmark bill will help transform the response to domestic abuse, helping to prevent offending, protect victims and ensure they have the support they need.”

READ MORE: Hackney domestic violence charity warns Covid-19 lockdown is pressure cooker for abuse.

Campaigners from groups like Step Up Migrant Women have recently urged MPS to add legislation to ensure migrant women, particularly those with no recourse to public funds, are also protected by the bill.

To contact The 24-hour National Domestic Abuse Hotline click here or call 0808 2000 247 for free.

Contact Sistah Space, a Hackney domestic abuse charity run by and for African Heritage women and girls, by clicking here

For more information on domestic abuse and to get help during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak click here.

Sistah Space is a community-based non-profit initiative created to bridge the gap in domestic abuse services for African heritage women and girls.

For more information on BAME women and domestic abuse click here

To find out more about the Domestic Abuse Bill click here