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European Parliament votes in favour of justice and services for Undocumented Migrant Women

Published .

"The Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants (PICUM) and Women against Violence Europe (WAVE) commend the European Parliament for passing the resolution on undocumented migrant women in the European Union.

The plenary session of the European Parliament today voted on a resolution on ‘Undocumented Women Migrants in the European Union’. The motion for this resolution came from an own-initiative report of the Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality (FEMM). Prepared by rapporteur Norica Nicolai (ALDE, Romania), the resolution calls on national and European authorities to ensure that a woman’s immigration status does not prevent her from accessing decent housing, healthcare, and education, and to safeguard access to justice for those experiencing violence and exploitation.

While it is regretful that some key recommendations were not passed such as a call for member states to ratify the UN Convention on Migrant Workers and the need to increase legal and social assistance for undocumented women, the resolution marks an important step regarding the need to protect undocumented women’s rights in Europe.

Across the EU, undocumented women face significant barriers to access to support, services and justice.  Because immigration control is often given priority to their needs as victims, they risk severe reprisals when contacting the police. As a consequence, female victims of violence are detained and deported, while their perpetrators remain unpunished. This protection gap means that perpetrators of violence against women can actually threaten their victims with the police.

When she became undocumented in Sweden, Miriam (33) found herself in a chain of abuse that was impossible to break. She was turned away from the local women’s shelter and lived in fear of the police. Her irregular status meant that she could be abused with impunity.

“He hit me and wanted to kill me, I could not go to the police because I have no papers. He said ‘if you leave me, I will call the police, you are a case for the police’. It was a very bad situation for me”,

The resolution recommends that member states now delink the prosecution of violence from immigration control so that all victims can safely report crimes. To ensure undocumented women are not turned away in their time of need, violence against women shelters are encouraged to waive requirements that women provide documentation. Finally, access to healthcare and education should be upheld, there should be no reporting of children of undocumented migrants.

The resolution marks an important recognition that all women should be able to access justice regardless of their residence status."

Source: PICUM