Over these past 6 months Clare Walker Consultancy has been working in immigration supporting an immigration law practice in Birmingham. This was not something that I had planned in the business, but something that came out of the blue, when a solicitor rang and requested my services for his clients. He stated he had been searching for a Domestic Abuse Consultant and a local Barrister in Birmingham who he had approached, suggested the solicitor contact CWC. The rest, as they say is history.
I think we have got the processes working smoothly now and the procedure is; I meet with each client to discuss their claim to being a victim of domestic abuse then I compile a report of my assessment. The solicitor of the client forwards any relevant 3rd party documentation to me. Along with that, my expertise of having worked with domestic abuse on many levels for more than 20 years and of course, the application of the government’s current definition of domestic abuse, from all of these considerations, an outcome of my opinion is achieved – which is impartial, independent and correct; just as the Court requires it.
This has in some cases required me to attend the Tribunal Courts as an Expert Witness for cross examination and questioning of the contents of my report. So far I am delighted to say, with 100% success rate. The clients I have met with over these months have experienced significant levels of domestic abuse including sexual violence, often with a heavy dose, if not completely of; Modern Day Slavery, Sexploitation or Human Trafficking in there too. I believe that the clients I sit before are under the radar – their experiences are not generally picked up by agencies such as the police and on occasions where there has been police involvement, the police appear ill equipped to see beyond ‘cultural traditions’ including ‘domestic’ situations.
Interestingly this is something I discuss at my events and trainings; that the tactics and effects are all the same, only the context and point of leverage changes to suit the abusers aims. In the case of these clients, their immigration status is a key point of leverage. Along with their lack of knowledge of our infrastructures, policies, legislation, practice and access to the agencies that provide them. The next point of significant leverage is set in that damning blanket term; ‘cultural traditions’ regardless of which culture we identify with. I am not being ignorant to bundle all our global and multifaceted cultural traditions into one bag. But the fact of the matter is if you strip any cultural tradition back, to its evident aims and objectives, which can be seen by the outcomes, we can clearly see it is much of a muchness.
This week I was discussing a new client’s case with a solicitor from a different practice, we were discussing his client’s religious upbringing. He said: “I am not aware of this particular Christian faith she talks about with these practices” I explained to him that her experience of Christianity was foiled and masked by many ‘cultural traditions’. So her experience of being sexually violated as a child, ostracised from her community, death threats to her and her children as well as having weights attached to her clitoris whilst still a child in a practice known as ‘pulling down’, was nothing to do with Christianity. And that goes for any faith.
By applying this approach, experiences of victims can be assessed and seen for what they are clearly and fairly – without falling into the trap, as so many do, of unwittingly colluding with the perpetrators and therefore further oppressing the victims.
In relation to the Home Office practices and the Tribunal Courts I feel there is a missing cog in this wheel which leaves victims, potential victims and indeed permits repeat victimisation, exposed. There appears to be no follow up of abuser’s when the Judge of the Immigration Tribunal has ruled in favour of the victim. The abuser isn’t then passed over to the criminal courts for further investigation or prosecution or even disallowed by the Home Office for any further applications of Visa’s. So, as often is the case in our societies; both home and abroad, the perpetrators are enabled, to freely move onto their next victims.
If you are working with clients who claim to be victims of domestic abuse who are additionally going through the processes of immigration – or asylum. Please get in touch if you would like to discuss the possibilities of working together, regularly or as a one off case.