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Project FIRST Press Briefing in the UK

6 October 2017



In light of Domestic Violence Awareness month, on 3 October 2017, the AIRE Centre welcomed journalists at their press briefing on “Project FIRST: Capacity Building for First Points of Contact for Victims of Domestic and Gender-based Violence”, held at Reed Smith LLP’s London offices. The aim of the press briefing was to raise awareness of the AIRE Centre and its international partners’ activities in the context of this project, as well as to inform a wider audience of some key facts and issues relating to domestic and gender-based violence and Modern Slavery, including in light of ongoing Brexit negotiations.

The press briefing opened with Ralitsa Peykova and Markella Papadouli, the two leads on the project in the AIRE Centre, discussing the objectives and achievements of the FIRST project. They explained how the project has aimed to target as broad a group as possible through its trainings on indicators of domestic and gender-based violence, recognising that first points of contact for these victims will often be social workers, medical professionals, or others who might not have had prior training in dealing with such issues. They discussed, in particular, the success of the trainings held in April and May in the UK, as well as the subsequent development of an online e-help tool on indicators of domestic violence.

Next, Matthew Evans, Legal Director at the AIRE Centre, discussed the AIRE Centre’s wider legal advice work relating to vulnerable EEA nationals in the UK who are in situations of domestic abuse. He explained the scope of the problem in the UK, the existing criminal and civil remedies available to victims, and the AIRE Centre’s focus on the UK Government’s proposed Domestic Violence and Abuse Bill and ratification of the Istanbul Convention. The discussion with the journalists present revolved around the difficulties that EEA nationals in situations of domestic abuse face in accessing social assistance from the government, where they are often reliant on their abusive partners for these entitlements and can therefore face destitution should they leave the relationship. AIRE Centre staff also discussed with the journalists present how these vulnerable EEA nationals have been sidelined in Brexit discussions and media coverage through the tacit criminalisation of their status.

Markella Papadouli, Legal Project Manager at the AIRE Centre, concluded the press briefing with a discussion on Modern Slavery in the UK. She explained the scale of human trafficking in the UK and across Europe, the many (often gender-based) misconceptions about this crime, and how the issues surrounding human trafficking in the UK will potentially be exacerbated by Brexit. As Markella explained, victims of trafficking in the UK have relied heavily on the EU’s Trafficking Directive, which has not been fully transposed into UK law (which also lacks mirroring provisions). The press briefing closed with a general discussion of potential avenues for further investigation on these issues with the journalists present.

Find more about what the FIRST Project can do for your organisation here.


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