The Challenges For Migrant Women Reporting Abuse

It’s no secret that migrant women face various challenges in their daily lives. For example, a recent report from the International Organization of Migration found that “women reported more challenges in accessing employment and training opportunities, as well as health-care services, often following abuses and exploitation during the migration journey.”

However, beyond difficulty in seeking employment and assimilating into their host countries, migrant women are also “disproportionately at risk from gendered violence, including domestic and sexual violence,” according to End Violence Against Women.

A 2022 report from the Globalization and Health Journal “consistently observed that rates of victimization are first, higher for migrants than compared to local populations and second, significantly higher for vulnerable groups of migrants.” Here, vulnerable migrants were characterized “due to their immigration status or individual characteristics (gender, sex, age group).

Migrant Women and Domestic Abuse: An Incomplete Analysis.

While pre-existing data demonstrates that migrant women, or those with refugee status, are more likely to fall victim to domestic abuse, it’s important to note that we may not have a complete picture. After all, in the same sense that they are more vulnerable to this form of violence, they are also more likely to withhold this information. 

For example, a recent Open Rights Group report found that “migrant women are less likely to report domestic violence to the police for fear of deportation.” As such, they are faced with an impossible choice – stay in a situation they know is dangerous or risk deportation to an environment that is potentially even more unstable. 

They must also contend with the usual factors that encourage domestic violence victims to remain silent. For example, in many cases, survivors deal with shame and embarrassment and “may believe the abuse was somehow their fault or that they caused it.” 

However, while gathering this data is helpful in highlighting just how widespread the issue is – it’s also essential to consider the different ways this data can be used, especially if it goes against the best interest of the women in question. 

For example, many studies have found that when a migrant reports abuse to governing bodies, they sometimes receive an immigration notice shortly after. One such occasion is explored in more detail in the Open Rights Group Report: 

“She was undocumented, so she was terrified to use the LAWRS service. 

After evaluating her case, the caseworker recommended reporting it to the police because of the high risk of the situation. When the woman reported it, she received an immigration enforcement letter. 

The police also came to her house as part of the report, but when they realized she was undocumented, they called immigration enforcement in front of her.” 

Consequently, it’s clear there is a need to develop better systems to support migrant women – meaning they must not be forced to stay in unsafe situations through fear of deportation. 

Why are Migrant Women more at risk of Domestic Abuse and Violence? 

Unfortunately, there are many reasons why migrant women are at greater risk of domestic abuse and violence. 

Financial Struggles. While there are many different ‘triggers’ associated with domestic abuse and violence, many studies found “clear evidence that economic stressors are associated with both the onset and escalation of abuse.” As many migrant women and families are more likely to experience financial struggles, this could contribute to the high rates of violence they face.

On a similar note, if migrant women face financial difficulties, they may worry about how they will provide for themselves if they move away from their abuser. For example, if they do not work, they may rely entirely on their abuser.

No clear way to report abuse. Unfortunately, wanting to report abuse and being able to do so are not one and the same. For example, if migrant women are worried their immigration status will be impacted by reporting, they may be forced to remain silent. Many abusers may use the threat of deportation as part of their entrapment tactic, especially if deportation will separate the woman from her family and children. 

Conversely, language barriers or poor access to resources may leave them feeling as though there’s no support out there for them. As such, “the lack of safe reporting mechanisms creates a barrier for migrant women seeking support to flee violence and exploitation, putting their lives at risk and allowing perpetrators to exert abuse with impunity.” 

How can we help resolve this issue? 

“As global domestic violence rates rise, it’s clear that change is necessary. As such, both individuals and organizations must be aware of the steps they can take to protect migrant women facing domestic violence or other forms of abuse,” said Jon Purizhansky, CEO and Founder of Joblio. 

Donate to charities supporting migrant women. Donating to charities or supporting organizations that help migrant women can help provide them with the support they need to leave a dangerous situation. 

Support community engagement. For migrant women to seek support from those around them, being engaged within their local community is often a prerequisite, given that this engagement helps them build a support network.

Call for systemic change. Another way we, as a society, can work to protect vulnerable members of our society, such as documented and undocumented migrant women, is by calling for systemic change. We must create pathways for these individuals to safely report abuse without deportation becoming a side-effect of their asking for help.

Beyond these individual efforts and push for changes in legislation or protection for vulnerable members of our society, we hope that the work carried out through Joblio can also enact positive change. After all, the company was founded to give everyone an opportunity to be employed ethically and safely – reducing the chances of them facing sexual exploitation or abuse. 

“Every employee who enters the Joblio family through the ACE program receives 24/7 access to a chat, where they can instantly report any abuse at the workplace or harassment at their housing. This service enables us to provide them with support as soon as issues arise, ensuring we are acting with their best interests at heart,” said Purizhansky.

To find out more about Joblio or the important work we carry out, please do not hesitate to get in touch today.