The law was against me (Human Rights Watch)
This 59-page report identifies three major protection gaps for migrant women who experience domestic violence in Belgium.
The report identifies three major protection gaps for migrant women who experience domestic violence in Belgium. Women who migrate to Belgium to join a husband or partner may face deportation if they report the violence during the period when their status is being confirmed, as do undocumented migrant women. And domestic violence victims, especially undocumented women, lack adequate access to shelters.
Human Rights Watch concludes that Belgium has passed laws and adopted policies to prevent, investigate, and prosecute domestic violence and protect victims, including a National Action Plan. But it has yet to fully address the gaps for migrant women. Belgium recently signed, but has yet to ratify, the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence, which requires countries to ensure protection irrespective of migrant status.
The report contains recommendations to the federal government, regions, and community authorities, including:
- Ratify and implement the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence.
- Reform the 1980 Law on Access to the Territory, Residence, Settlement and Removal of Foreigners so that undocumented migrant women who experience domestic violence may apply for a residence permit on humanitarian grounds and so that deportation is suspended until a decision is made on the application.
- Reform the 1980 Law so that migrants, whose residency rights depend on their relationship with an abusive sponsor, may apply independently for a residence permit.
- Make public funds available to ensure access to women’s shelters for victims of violence who need them, irrespective of migrant status.