Today, 10 December, marks not only the end of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence, but also International Human Rights Day.

As migrant women, experience has taught us that anyone can be a victim of violence, but certain traits that shape our identity, such as gender, race and migration status, increase vulnerability and restrict our ability to obtain support.  

The hostile environment towards migrants, which was established more than a decade ago in the UK with the aim of reducing immigration, has led millions of people to see their fundamental rights violated. As a consequence, for example, many migrant women are not accessing medical care, because they are unsure about their rights, because they cannot afford treatment, or because they are afraid of falling into debt.

Because of our immigration status we are also often prevented from working, having to depend economically on other people and increasing our vulnerability, or having access only to exploitative jobs. It is also because of these hostile policies that, as victims, many of us are afraid to seek help from the police, for fear that they will share our personal details with the Home Office, that we will be arrested or deported, or simply that they will not believe us.   

This year, according to the United Nations (UN), the theme of Human Rights Day is EQUALITY. According to article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, ‘all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights’. At WARMI we ask: we all have the same rights, but are we able to exercise them with equality? 

We want a State that recognises our value and our rights as human beings. We want our bodies and experiences not to be reduced to stereotypes. We want to report abuse and not to be doubted. We want victims not to become suspects. We want better working conditions and the possibility of economic empowerment. We want safety before status. We want to live without fear.

We have the right to a life free of violence. We have the right to a life of dignity. We have the right to be free from discrimination, to have our culture respected, to be able to live freely in family and community. We have rights, and we are going to assert them. 

Below we have created a list of what we want to change in society to achieve respect so that we can live a safe and dignified life. 

  • We want the British government to officially recognise Latin Americans as an ethnic minority in the UK. 
  • We want an active fight against discrimination.
  • We want to work in decent conditions, with wages that recognise our efforts, and for employers who do not comply with the law to be held accountable. 
  • We want closer and stricter inspection of companies, for example cleaning companies, separate from immigration enforcement, to ensure that they comply with workers’ rights and safety. 
  • We want more funding for ESOL classes, with availability for people working anti-social hours. 
  • We want for the National Health Service (NHS) to provide free healthcare for all, including undocumented people. 
  • We want better funding for local authorities, statutory services and specialised community organisations and fair access to interpreters so migrant women fleeing gender-based violence can safely report their perpetrators. 
  • We want the police to put our safety before our immigration status and not to share our personal data with the Home Office. 
  • We want a fair and compassionate asylum system, which protects the rights of refugees, and we firmly oppose the Nationality and Borders Bill’s creation of a tier-system, discriminating asylum seekers according to how they arrive in the UK. 
  • We want decolonised education that includes and respects Indigenous and African knowledge. 
  • We want to be at the center of the debate and decisions on immigration and women’s protection laws.

Migrant rights are human rights. 

The Warmi collective