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A Stark Choice: Domestic Violence or Deportation?

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The Immigration Status of Victims of Domestic Violence under the Istanbul Convention

image of European Journal of Migration and Law

The Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (the Istanbul Convention) is a relatively recent treaty that has the objective to protect women against all forms of violence and to design a comprehensive framework of measures for achieving this aim. Migrant women are of special concern given the awareness that when their migration status is dependent on that of their sponsoring spouse, they might be faced with a stark choice between staying in an abusive relationship or risking being deported. Article 59 (residence status) of the Convention is intended to respond to this problem by providing an immigration relief to migrant women victims of violence by carving out exceptions in the immigration control prerogatives of host states. Article 59 raises two interrelated questions: under what conditions are these exceptions triggered and what is their transformative potential in the light of the immigration rights that Article 59 extends to migrant women. This article argues that while the Istanbul Convention will generate some positive changes, the overall advancement triggered by the treaty in the area of protection of migrant women suffers from significant limitations.

Affiliations: 1: Faculty of Law, Lund UniversitySweden


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