We’ve all heard the one about the asylum seeking cat (he had rights to family life presumably). Or the one where foreign scroungers are bleeding the benefits system dry with their flash new disability motors and state funded mobile phones. Their strange foreign ways, imposing cultures and customs. They’re only seeking asylum because they can, because of those rotten human rights.
But the reality of seeking asylum in asylum seeker hating Britain is one that is tainted with a blatant disregard for the human soul, where people are numbers filling quotas or not people at all. The perception of an asylum seeker is of one who wishes to reside in this country because of everything they can leech from it, an easy ride. Applicants cite various reasons; persecution on grounds of politics, religion, sexuality. They all get the rubber stamp, if we are to believe our newspapers and politicians. But we never hear about those people that will quite probably be refused. The single women. (I use the term single to imply without partner, she may still have children).
Women entering the country on a spousal visa have no recourse to public funds for the first two years of their marriage (the aptly named ‘two year rule’). When some of these relationships become unbearable or threatening and the woman has no choice but to escape, she suddenly finds herself cornered. Most domestic violence refuges cannot accept these women because they simply do not have the funding to do so. There are a few but allocations are rare and time limited. If they have children, social services should legally assist under the children’s act or national assistance act but it isn’t uncommon to spend the day batting between various agencies, trying to establish duty of care.
When services are strapped, women with no recourse fall to the bottom of the pile. Of all the clients I assisted in applications to the home office for indefinite leave to remain on the basis that they were being subjected to spousal abuse, not a single one was granted the privilege. In fact, one of the cases was initially granted leave following a lengthy court case, but was then subjected to an appeal after which her status was revoked. How cruel and unnecessary.
The courts would argue that, as the contract for marriage between the two parties had severed, so had the applicants needs or right to remain in the country and therefore, she should be deported back to her country of origin. What they fail to take into account is the handling of women as property. Married, used and then beaten and shamed into returning to her parents is a slur on the ‘good’ family name and for her to return would result an equal threat to her safety and wellbeing. But the home office has no time for bleeding heart stories.
There is a domestic violence concession to the two year rule. In order to satisfy the courts that you are telling the truth, you must provide:
- An injunction/protection order
- A conviction against the perpetrator
If that is not immediately possible, which it probably won’t be considering legal aid is not accessible, then:
- Letter from a hospital doctor and confirming injuries are consistent with abuse
- Police reports confirming attendance as a result of abuse
- Confirmation of social services involvement
- Supporting statement from domestic abuse agencies (again, possibly not with no recourse)
- Psychiatrist report
- An affidavit from anyone else that may have witnessed the abuse.
It’s not as easy as it sounds. Women in this position may not even have English as a first language.
Even with all the supporting evidence, however, she is still at risk. It is a race against time to locate funds for the application to the home office; before they find out she is not residing with her spouse and pursue the deportation process. No public funds, just, if you are lucky, the support of good natured strangers; pro bono solicitors, grassroots charities and Methodists (a strange mix but they are out there). To provide food, clothing, shelter, warmth, comfort, guidance and stability at what is truly a harrowing time for a vulnerable woman and possibly her children. Not that the home office or Daily Fail have noticed. No doubt these women are just a drain on the economy with their numerous social needs.
Judgment day, the court date that will irrevocably change someone’s life is heart-breaking and shocking and quite unbelievable. If the application is denied, she doesn’t get to come home and get her things together, (she is to present at court with all she can’t leave behind), she is sent straight to the deportation centre, children in tow. The children, if British, have a right to remain. Our authorities have no qualms suggesting that the children can be taken into care if the mother loses her argument for her right to family life. What could be more human than keeping a mother and her children together? Is this is not a basic human right? One that we do not need to prove we are worthy of, one that is born alongside the child.
We do have a human rights issue in this country. We are not human enough. They want to take human rights away to appease those confused souls that don’t understand that they too are human. What they want to say but can’t, because it’s presently illegal, is that they don’t want gay rights. Or black rights. Or disability rights.
Since when did a cat have anything to do with it?