Published On: 6th October 2023

JOINT PRESS RELEASE


Solace and Southall Black Sisters give voice to the experiences of domestic abuse survivors and services during the UK’s Covid Inquiry

VAWG (Violence Against Women and Girls) charities, Solace and Southall Black Sisters are core participants in the UK Covid-19 Inquiry to ensure the voices & experiences of domestic abuse survivors during the pandemic are heard.

Through an opening statement from Garden Court Chambers on Wednesday, the leading VAWG charities told the inquiry that the government failed to fully recognise that for many women & girls, home is not a safe place and that lockdown made an unsafe home even more dangerous.

In evidence to the inquiry on Friday afternoon from Rebecca Goshawk, Solace’s Head of Partnerships and Public Affairs, the two charities highlighted:

  • Whilst the covid-19 pandemic did not cause domestic abuse, it did create the conditions for it to escalate.
  • The Government didn’t take the necessary steps to ensure that domestic abuse victims were protected and were not clear enough that they could leave their home to get help.
  • Migrant victims were particularly vulnerable as they were left with few options to escape as many could not access state support and lived in fear of immigration enforcement.
  • Many women will still be living with the abuse or the mental health challenges as a result of the trauma experienced under lockdowns.

Nahar Choudhury, Solace CEO, says, ‘The pandemic was terrifying and life changing for most of us, and for women and families locked in with their abusers during lock down it was horrifying and for many it was life threatening. We are sharing the experiences of domestic abuse survivors with the inquiry to ensure that Government is better prepared to protect women now and if/when we face the next pandemic.”

Hannana Siddiqui, Head of Policy, Campaigns and Research at Southall Black Sisters says “Southall Black Sisters are highlighting the plight of black, ethnic minority and migrant women during and after the pandemic. Migrant women with no recourse to public funds in particularly were in a triple bind of Covid-19, domestic abuse, and deportation and destitution. The Home Office made a positive decision not to lift the NRPF – thus giving the perpetrator more power! We have also submitted written evidence with the aim of making sure that these state failures never happen again in a future pandemic.”   

Helen Mowatt, Solicitor at Public Interest Law Centre, who are supporting Solace and SBS says “The Government failed to properly consult specialist organisations and provide them with the funding needed to respond to the inevitable rise in domestic abuse during the pandemic. This occurred in the context of over a decade of austerity and systemic underfunding of the VAWG sector, when these organisations were already over-stretched and unable to meet demand, local authorities were too often withholding homelessness assistance from women fleeing domestic abuse, and there was insufficient safe and secure housing for survivors.”

“There was no clear messaging that survivors could flee their homes, or any indication of what support was available. Nothing was done to mitigate against the triple threat suffered by migrant survivors without secure immigration status – domestic abuse, the pandemic, and a fear of deportation.”

Note to editors     

You can watch the evidence given by Solace on Friday 6th October here: UK Covid-19 Inquiry – YouTube

For more information on our work or to arrange interviews, please contact

Solace on media@solacewomensaid.org   

For Southall Black Sisters on :

Asmita Sood – asmita@southallblacksisters.co.uk 07775 178056

www.southallblacksisters.org.uk/

About Solace:    

SOLACE is a leading specialist charity in the UK supporting women and children experiencing domestic abuse and sexual violence. Whatever form violence comes in, from rape to trafficking to relationships based on psychological or financial control, we work to end it. We know that escaping the effects of violence can be the hardest thing to ever do. That’s why the lifesaving support that Solace provides to 30,000 women, children, and young people each year is so important.    

Website | www.solacewomensaid.org       

Twitter | @SolaceWomensAid      

Facebook | /SolaceWomensAid    

About Southall Black Sisters:

Southall Black Sisters, a not-for-profit, secular and inclusive organisation, was established in 1979 to meet the needs of Black (Asian and African-Caribbean) women. Our aims are to highlight and challenge all forms gender-related violence against women, empower them to gain more control over their lives; live without fear of violence and assert their human rights to justice, equality and freedom.