Refuges for BME survivors of domestic abuse face closure

Closure of refuges for black and minority ethnic survivors of domestic abuse are putting women’s lives at risk, say campaigners.

BME and migrant women experience higher rates of domestic abuse, and the closure of a group of refuges due to funding cut results in them losing vital specialist services.

According to an Independent report published on Sunday (7), as many as 22 BME refuges across the country have had their funding cut or have been taken over by large organisations in the past 12 years. London Black Women’s Project, which has five domestic violence refuges in Newham, is set to close all of its centres following funding cut.

“It is a solid and reliable service that has saved the lives of many women and children who would have nowhere to go if we did not exist,” Anjum Mouj, chair of the LBWP, was quoted as saying.

“Big organisations serving their profit margins and not the local communities must not be allowed to bid for local money. This is not like for like. This results in biased and discriminatory procurement processes that aim to marginalise and silence communities.”

Baljit Banga, who was the director for over a decade but stepped down in May, said: “We were really shocked by the decision. It puts women’s lives at risk. BME women will be too scared to access generic services. From the research and frontline work we do we know that BME women do not access generic services.

“They use BME services because of language barriers and culturally specific support available there, and also because they want a service that understands them and their voices. We are historically rooted in the communities we serve. We have always worked closely with women to ensure their lived experiences and their voice were the things that shaped the way these services should be delivered.

“This decision constitutes a total erasure of women’s voices. There is a terrible sense of injustice being committed. Survivors we work with are very upset because they do not know where they are going to go to access support. This funding decision forces women to relive the trauma they have already experienced.”