Violence Against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence: migrant women

The Equality and Social Justice Committee has been considering an inquiry into violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence (VAWDASV). As part of its initial consideration, and in recognition of the breadth of the topic, the Committee held a roundtable discussion with key stakeholders in order to inform its approach.


The discussion highlighted migrant women as a key neglected group, whose needs aren’t currently being properly met and who are likely to experience violence in a different way to other girls and women. As a result, the Committee agreed on 21 March 2022 to undertake an initial, short inquiry with a focus on migrant women. The inquiry will explore which barriers migrant women face when trying to access services and what the Welsh Government could do to ensure migrant women are able to access services which are fully resourced and trained to deal with cultural norms and practices.


For this work, the Committee will be adopting a broad definition of ‘migrant women’ as it seeks a better understanding of the issues and how they relate to the terms of reference below. This definition includes (but is not necessarily limited to) those with permanent or temporary immigration status, refugees, asylum seekers and undocumented migrants.


The Terms of Reference for the inquiry are to consider:



>>> Migrant women’s experiences of violence and the extent to which cultural norms and practices contributes to VAWDASV (e.g. FGM, forced marriage, honour-based’ abuse).

>>> The scope and coverage of specialist services and interventions which are adequately resourced and trained to support survivors from migrant communities, including meeting cultural and linguistic needs.

>>> Consideration of the barriers preventing migrant women and girls in Wales from accessing services and additional barriers faced by women with insecure immigration status, or whose immigration status is dependent on a spouse or employer or those who have No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF).

>>> Whether the Welsh Government could take any steps to mitigate the disproportionate impact UK immigration policy has on survivors in Wales and deliver its aspiration of Wales as a ‘Nation of Sanctuary’.

>>> The effectiveness of awareness raising campaigns and whether these successfully target and raise awareness amongst migrant communities.

>>> The Welsh Government’s approach to primary prevention and whether enough effort is being made to stop violence before it occurs by working with key grassroots community and faith groups as well as schools to challenge cultural norms and practices.



Evidence gathering


The Committee held a consultation and received seven responses. The Committee also held oral evidence sessions with stakeholders including charities and service providers on the following dates:


>>> 16 May 2022

>>> 6 June 2022

>>> 27 June 2022



Following the evidence sessions, the Southall Black Sisters provided us with a copy of the Domestic Abuse Bill and Migrant Women report and the Safe and Secure: The No Recourse Fund report, and the Step Up Migrant Women Coalition shared with us the Right to be Believed report and the Preventing and addressing abuse and exploitation: a guide for police and labour inspectors working with migrants report.




The Committee laid its report entitled “Gender based violence: the needs of migrant women” on Wednesday 26 October.


Following publication, Chair of the Committee, Jenny Rathbone MS, stated:


"The vulnerability of this group of women requires a tailored approach to protect their rights. Greater public awareness is needed of the vulnerability of migrant women, some of whom are at risk of human slavery and trafficking. It is vital that the survivor voice is heard when developing policy; the Welsh Government should ensure that migrant women and those who support them continue to be represented at all levels.”



Welsh Government response


The Committee received a response from the Welsh Government on 7 December 2022.


A debate was held in Plenary on 14 December 2022.

Business type: Committee Inquiry

Reason considered: Senedd Business;

First published: 31/03/2022