The Unheard Workforce

The Latin American Women’s Rights Service (LAWRS) is launching its latest report: “The Unheard Workforce: Experiences of Latin American migrant women in cleaning, hospitality and domestic work” 

descargar el reporte

On the 17th July 2019, LAWRS launched the research “The Unheard Workforce: Experiences of Latin American migrant women in cleaning, hospitality and domestic work”. Funded by Trust for London

The research draws on 326 cases of women supported at the Employment Rights Advice Service of the organisation. It presents an array of deeply concerning labour rights violations experienced by Latin American migrant women employed in three key feminised sectors of London’s manual labour: cleaning, hospitality, and domestic work.

Among the key results arising from these cases, we found that:

  • Over half of the workers faced breaches to their contracts (62%). Unlawful deduction of wages was the most common type of abuse (151 cases, 46%).
  • 1 in 5 (20%) experienced illegal underpayment of the National Minimum Wage.
  • 17% were unlawfully denied the annual leave they were entitled to, and 16% were not paid accrued in lieu annual leave once they left the company.
  • Health and safety issues were present in 25% of the cases – predominantly injury due to the nature of the work (33%), limited or no protective equipment (17%), and lack of training (12%).
  • Over two in five (41%) of women in the sample have experienced discrimination, harassment or unreasonable treatment.
  • 66% experienced bullying or unreasonable treatment as regular occurrences.
  • A large proportion endured verbal and/or faced physical abuse, 37% and 11% respectively.
  • 16% of the women endured a total of 13 different types of sexual harassment and abuse in the workplace.
  • Abuse on the grounds of maternity was experienced by 9% of women. This includes failure to pay for hours spent at prenatal appointments and denial of risk assessments during pregnancy.
  • 11 cases of potential trafficking for labour exploitation were identified: 7 were cleaners or hospitality workers and 4 were domestic workers.

“We are not machines or numbers. We are human beings who want to work and to be treated with dignity and respect. We want nothing more and nothing less.”

Watch the full short documentary below:

“Undocumented Latin American migrant woman’s experiences of labour abuse in London”

This documentary was made with the support of Media Trust by the filmmaker Andrew Contreras


LAWRS Latin American Women's Rights Service Protesting Banners

LAWRS 35th Anniversary report is out!

35 year ago, we started our work in a time where domestic violence was only physical abuse and we increased our services accordingly to the development of policies and legislation through the years. We are proud to follow the steps of amazing Latin American women who came before us and we hope to do our part for the ones to come. As a specialist service, we will continue providing survival, security, safety, and well-being and also advocating and campaigning for human rights and social justice for migrant women and migrant women workers in the UK.

During the last year 2017-2018, our main achievements were:

  • 1,890 hours of comprehensive wellbeing support offered
  • 1,691 advice and information sessions
  • 339 survivors of violence supported to find safety
  • 285 school students better able to lead healthy relationships
  • 266 women joined in our integration programme
  • 515 women supported in Southwark
  • 124 women supported in Haringey
  • 93% improved their knowledge about rights
  • 85% improved their wellbeing
  • 40% of our drop-in service users accessed more than 1 service in a single visit
  • 70% found LAWRS through word of mouth
  • Evidenced-based campaigning work to tackle violence against women and girls, labour exploitation and reduce the impact of Brexit

Read more here: LAWRS 35th Anniversary Annual Report


LAWRS Latin American Women's Rights Service Supporters Voices Of Resilience

Voices of Resilience: short documentary

Migrant and refugee women face multiple barriers when arriving in the EU and the current political anti-migrant climate has made their situations direr. Experiences of gender-based abuse, exploitation at work and isolation have been exacerbated by the progressive erosion of migrant and women’s rights.

On International Migrant Day 2018, LAWRS launches the short documentary titled: Voices of resilience: Migrant and Refugee women in Europe” which highlights the experiences of migrant women in the UK, Spain, Poland and Italy and sharing their experiences and calls for change.

The short documentary was made as part of the  Women, Empowerment, Integration and Participation project (WEIP) run by LAWRS (UK), Differenza Donna (Italy), KARAT Coalition (Poland) and Red Acoge (Spain) and brought the voices and experiences of migrant and refugee women to the forefront. The documentary was first screened in November at the WEIP’s international conference in London, where more than 20 migrant and women organisations in Europe highlighted the role of migrant women’s lived experiences and provided recommendations to uphold their right to integrate and to live free of violence and discrimination.

Sophia Gomez Pelaez, a migrant woman in Spain, interviewed in the short documentary states:

“We come looking for other opportunities, especially as women as we are searching to cover family needs. However, it is difficult to find shelter as we often face rejection”

Moreover, Cathrine Nsamba, a migrant woman in Italy also interviewed (and photographed above) recommends:

“I was supported by the organisation to learn more and to understand more […]and my advice for women like me are to go inside leadership and campaign for these leaderships”

Finally, Alma Gatica, the WEIP Coordinator at the Latin American Women’s Rights Service stresses the importance of a migrant and gender perspective in our work.

“We, migrant women, have to get access to decision-making spaces where policies are discussed so we can fully participate in the host country: socially, politically and economically. We are the leaders of our own empowerment journey, both as migrants and as women”

Watch the full short documentary:

Co-funded by the Asylum, Migration and Integration fund of the European Commission


LAWRS Latin American Women's Rights Service Supporters We Can't Fight In The Dark

We can’t fight in the dark: Brazilian women facing violence

A research by the King’s College in partnership with LAWRS found out that VAWG among Brazilian women in London is “alarmingly widespread”, with 4 in every 5 Brazilian women in London have experienced some kind of violence.

The study, published in March 2018, shed a light on cases of violence suffered by Brazilian women in London, provided data and offered policy recommendations to tackle the issue. According to the study emotional/psychological violence was the commonest type of violence experienced in London (48%), followed by physical violence (38%), with 14% experiencing sexual violence.

The study also found that cases of VAWG are intersectional as women of mixed race were more likely to experience violence (63%) than white women (44%). Insecure immigration status prevented women from coming forward and reporting the cases of violence to the police. Apart from highlighting the need for the Domestic Violence and Abuse (DVA) Bill to set standards for the protection of migrant victims’, some of the proposed solutions to prevent VAWG cases with Brazilian women are extending ‘recourse to public funds’ to domestic violence victims, specialist training for agency officers; and increased collaboration between support organisations and government authorities. The study reinforces the need for safe reporting mechanisms to be implemented as we campaign in Step Up Migrant Women.

 

LAWRS Latin American Women's Rights Service Supporters We Can't Fight In The Dark
LAWRS Latin American Women's Rights Service Supporters We Can't Fight In The Dark
LAWRS Latin American Women's Rights Service Supporters We Can't Fight In The Dark
LAWRS Latin American Women's Rights Service Supporters We Can't Fight In The Dark
LAWRS Latin American Women's Rights Service Supporters We Can't Fight In The Dark

LAWRS Latin American Women's Rights Service Supporters Sin Fronteras

Relaunch of Sin fronteras: Empowering young women from Latin America

We are thrilled to announce the return of Sin Fronteras! Launched in June 2015, Sin Fronteras (No Limits) focuses on empowering young Latin American women and girls. Sin Fronteras provides them with a safe space to develop their full potential and lead on actions for social change through the use of arts. During the first two and a half years of the project, LAWRS offered different workshops and activities to more than 100 Latin American young women and girls. Through art, dance and music the young women and girls were able to identify themselves as agents that can generate a social change in our communities.

“We want to set an example, leave a footprint and speak up for Latin American people and for people from all over the world whose voices are silenced or to whom language is a barrier,” said the manifest written by members of the group.

They advocated for the recognition of young migrant women’s rights by calling for a recognition of rights through photography exhibitions, by demonstrating against detention at Yarl’s Wood, and by joining the campaign Against Border for Children (ABC). Here is Sin Fronteras standing up for the the right to education free from racism and state surveillance.

LAWRS is thrilled to relaunch Sin Fronteras in November 2018. We will run a 3-month creative leadership programme with the support of the University of London, a 1-year programme to access free university lectures thanks to King’s College London, and a 3-year programme of arts, development and social change funded by Paul Hamlyn Foundation. Stay tuned to get more news about the awesome things this group of young leaders will be doing in the coming months.


LAWRS Latin American Women's Rights Service Stand Up Migrant Women

Step Up Migrant Women: Mayor of London calls for safe reporting for migrant victims

Prompted by our Step Up Migrant Women UK coalition, the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan urged the Home Office to protect domestic abuse victims who are vulnerable due to hostile environment policies. Migrant women with undocumented status are denied access to support and remain trapped in abusive relationships.

LAWRS worked with the Mayor’s office in drafting his letter to the Home Secretary, with measures and guidelines to ensure victims have access to justice and support services.

The Mayor’s demands were backed by Victims Commissioner Claire Waxman, who has been hosting a series of roundtables on the issue, and MP Jess Phillips.

“Both the mayor and I are clear that all victims of abuse must have full confidence to report crime and their abusers to ensure justice is done, no matter what their status might be,” said Claire Waxman

The current lack of safe-reporting mechanisms creates a barrier for migrant women to flee violence and gives greater impunity to perpetrators. An Imkaan study has shown that 92% of women with insecure status have received threats of deportation from perpetrators.

LAWRS’ Director, Lucila Granada, commented:

“The hostile environment policies have led to this extremely dangerous situation where many victims of severe crimes are too afraid to go to the police. Their perpetrator is dangerous, but the police can be even more dangerous to them. Perpetrators are hiding behind these policies and using them to abuse their victims.”

Step Up Migrant Women is a campaign led by LAWRS and supported by over 30 women’s and migrants’ rights organisations. We campaign for the implementation of safe-reporting mechanisms and the end of data-sharing policies when victims approach the police.

Photo by Angeles Rodenas


LAWRS Latin American Women's Rights Service Minorities Face Barriers to Islington Health

Research: Minorities face Barriers to Islington Health

LAWRS Development and Outreach Coordinator Nahir de la Silva explains how LAWRS and the consortium Diverse Communities Health Voice found that Latin American women in Islington need better quality and gender-specific interpretation services to access healthcare. 

Diverse Communities Health Voice, a consortium of ten Islington-based organisations*, has published its findings on research into how ethnic minorities are accessing the NHS: Community research 2016-2017 Black and minority ethnic groups accessing services in Islington.

As a consortium member, LAWRS interviewed 22 Latin American women* within our organisation, with research broken down into five different areas: pharmacies, wellbeing, accident & emergency, interpreting services, and referrals to specialist services.

We offer services including linguistically-specific counselling and yoga to help our community keep healthy.

Our interviews found that women experienced their first barrier when trying to make appointments. Reception staff did not provide appointments due to a lack of language understanding of our service users. We also heard of cases in which staff members would not offer interpreting services, despite the knowing that our users were not comfortable only using English.

This interview-based research has helped LAWRS identify different issues faced by our service users while trying to access the NHS. It is also helping us work with the community and local government to tackle these problems.

At LAWRS we wrote letters addressed to administrative staff from GP clinics asking for appointments and interpreters. We managed to get some much-needed appointments. LAWRS also provided information on services on offer in pharmacies, as well as free sports and wellbeing activities, dentist services, walk-in-centres, and complaint procedures.

Our research has also helped us conclude that language interpreting services need to be improved in Islington, as well as become more culturally and gender secure. We would also appreciate reception staff receiving appropriate Equality and Diversity training.

The final report makes the following recommendations

• To extend GP hours in order to make it possible for people working in different jobs to get appointments
• To promote information about the services available
• To translate this information into key languages to increase uptake

Read the full report here.[:es]

LAWRS Development and Outreach Coordinator Nahir de la Silva explains how the consortium Diverse Communities Health Voice also indicates that Latin American women in Islington need better quality and gender-specific interpretation services to access healthcare. 

Diverse Communities Health Voice, a consortium of ten Islington-based organisations*, has published its findings on research into how ethnic minorities are accessing the NHS: Community research 2016-2017 Black and minority ethnic groups accessing services in Islington.

As a consortium member, LAWRS interviewed 22 Latin American women* within our organisation, with research broken down into five different areas: pharmacies, wellbeing, accident & emergency, interpreting services, and referrals to specialist services.

Our interviews found that women experienced their first barrier when trying to make appointments. Reception staff did not provide appointments due to a lack of language understanding of our service users. We also heard of cases in which staff members would not offer interpreting services, despite the knowing that our users were not comfortable only using English.

This interview-based research has helped LAWRS identify different issues faced by our service users while trying to access the NHS. It is also helping us work with the community and local government to tackle these problems.

At LAWRS we wrote letters addressed to administrative staff from GP clinics asking for appointments and interpreters. We managed to get some much-needed appointments. LAWRS also provided information on services on offer in pharmacies, as well as free sports and wellbeing activities, dentist services, walk-in-centres, and complaint procedures.

Our research has also helped us conclude that language interpreting services need to be improved in Islington, as well as become more culturally and gender secure. We would also appreciate reception staff receiving appropriate Equality and Diversity training.

The final report makes the following recommendations

• To extend GP hours in order to make it possible for people working in different jobs to get appointments
• To promote information about the services available
• To translate this information into key languages to increase uptake

Read the full report here.[:pt]LAWRS Development and Outreach Coordinator Nahir de la Silva explains how the consortium Diverse Communities Health Voice also indicates that Latin American women in Islington need better quality and gender-specific interpretation services to access healthcare. 

Diverse Communities Health Voice, a consortium of ten Islington-based organisations*, has published its findings on research into how ethnic minorities are accessing the NHS: Community research 2016-2017 Black and minority ethnic groups accessing services in Islington.

As a consortium member, LAWRS interviewed 22 Latin American women* within our organisation, with research broken down into five different areas: pharmacies, wellbeing, accident & emergency, interpreting services, and referrals to specialist services.

Our interviews found that women experienced their first barrier when trying to make appointments. Reception staff did not provide appointments due to a lack of language understanding of our service users. We also heard of cases in which staff members would not offer interpreting services, despite the knowing that our users were not comfortable only using English.

This interview-based research has helped LAWRS identify different issues faced by our service users while trying to access the NHS. It is also helping us work with the community and local government to tackle these problems.

At LAWRS we wrote letters addressed to administrative staff from GP clinics asking for appointments and interpreters. We managed to get some much-needed appointments. LAWRS also provided information on services on offer in pharmacies, as well as free sports and wellbeing activities, dentist services, walk-in-centres, and complaint procedures.

Our research has also helped us conclude that language interpreting services need to be improved in Islington, as well as become more culturally and gender secure. We would also appreciate reception staff receiving appropriate Equality and Diversity training.

The final report makes the following recommendations

• To extend GP hours in order to make it possible for people working in different jobs to get appointments
• To promote information about the services available
• To translate this information into key languages to increase uptake

Read the full report here.

*Overall, 207 people were interviewed, across all participant organisations in the consortium. LAWRS has now been a consortium member for two years.

*The ten Islington-based organisations work to listen to and represent members of society that are not being heard by mainstream agencies.


LAWRS Latin American Women's Rights Service Supporters Domestic Abuse During Isolation

El amor no mata, la violencia sí

El amor no mata, la violencia sí es nuestra campaña de tolerancia cero a la violencia contra las mujeres y las niñas, que tiene como objetivo crear conciencia sobre la violencia que afecta a las mujeres latinoamericanas y otras mujeres migrantes en el Reino Unido.

Esta campaña destaca la importancia de reconocer a la comunidad latinoamericana como una minoría étnica para que las mujeres de nuestra comunidad puedan acceder a servicios que respondan de manera efectiva a sus necesidades específicas.

Hacemos un llamado al gobierno central y a las autoridades locales para:

  • Brindar servicios adecuados y específicos a las necesidades de las mujeres migrantes víctimas de violencia y abuso.
  • Reconocer oficialmente a los latinoamericanos como categoría étnica.
  • Asegurar financiamiento para organizaciones comunitarias especializadas que respondan a las necesidades de las mujeres migrantes y otras minorías víctimas de violencia y abuso.

Esta campaña se lanzó con la proyección de nuestro cortometraje “Mujeres invisibles”, con una audiencia de más de 130 líderes y activistas de la comunidad latinoamericana. “Mujeres invisibles” se basa en las experiencias de 3 de nuestras usuarias. Sus historias reflejan la situación de abuso, explotación y pobreza que enfrentan hoy muchas mujeres latinoamericanas en el Reino Unido. Producido por Literally Films y Media Trust, puedes verlo aquí:

La proyección fue seguida por una mesa redonda con la MP laborista Stella Creasy, Prevención del Crimen y Campeona de la campaña One Billion Rise; Katharine Round, directora de Literally Films y directora del video “Mujeres invisibles”; y Carolina Gottardo, directora de LAWRS en aquel entonces. El debate fue presidido por la profesora Maxine Molyneux, directora del Instituto de las Américas, University College London.

Nuestros carteles contra la violencia en español y portugués se exhiben en organizaciones, tiendas, iglesias y otros espacios comunitarios. Nuestro trabajo para exigir el reconocimiento oficial y la financiación adecuada para los servicios de apoyo continúa, pero las mujeres latinoamericanas necesitan que tú apoyes su lucha por la igualdad.


LAWRS Latin American Women's Rights Service Recognition of Latin Americans

Reconocimiento de latinoamericanos/as en Reino Unido

Hacemos campaña por el pleno reconocimiento de la comunidad latinoamericana como grupo étnico en el Reino Unido. Esta campaña tiene como objetivo mejorar la visibilidad de los latinoamericanos para mejorar el acceso de la comunidad a los servicios y la participación política. Hacemos un llamado al gobierno central y a las autoridades locales para:

  • Introducir la categoría “latinoamericano” en el monitoreo étnico.
  • Incluir a los latinoamericanos en la planificación estratégica y la prestación de servicios.
  • Trabajar más de cerca con la comunidad y las organizaciones para brindar proyectos relevantes lingüística y culturalmente que lleguen a los latinoamericanos.

2014

Los latinoamericanos son reconocidos por los consejos de Islington y Hackney.

2013

El Consejo de Lambeth reconoció oficialmente a los latinoamericanos.

2013

Creamos una coalición de organizaciones latinoamericanas del sector voluntario en el Reino Unido (CLAUK), fundada por 7 miembros y organizada por LAWRS. A través de CLAUK, que actualmente está integrado por 14 organizaciones latinoamericanas, realizamos trabajo de incidencia y campañas para lograr el reconocimiento a nivel local y nacional, y mejorar el acceso de la comunidad a los derechos laborales y servicios de salud.

2012

Luego de una intensa campaña dirigida por LAWRS y otros grupos comunitarios locales, que involucró una delegación a la asamblea del consejo en pleno, Southwark Council da el paso pionero de reconocer oficialmente a los latinoamericanos como un grupo étnico.

2011

LAWRS y Trust for London co-comisionaron la publicación del informe No Longer Invisible, la investigación más completa sobre la comunidad latinoamericana en Londres.


LAWRS Latin American Women's Rights Service Migrants Contribute

Migrants Contribute

Los Migrantes Contribuyen fue una campaña compuesta por 16 coaliciones y organizaciones, que representan a más de 60 grupos de migrantes y refugiados en todo el país. Migrantes Contribute buscó fomentar un debate más justo sobre la migración en el período previo a las elecciones generales de 2015 al transmitir una imagen más real de los migrantes y combatir la creciente demonización de las comunidades de migrantes y refugiados en los medios de comunicación y los discursos políticos.

LAWRS coordinó Migrants Contribute, que logró una fuerte presencia en las redes sociales, la prensa y eventos comunitarios.

Las actividades de la campaña incluyeron:

  • Desafiar a los líderes políticos y partidos que deliberadamente se aprovechan de los miedos y ansiedades de la gente sobre la recesión y la austeridad para que culpen de estos problemas a los “extranjeros”.
  • Conseguir que los medios presenten la vida real de los migrantes y la contribución real que hacemos.
  • Construir una red de organizaciones que conforman / apoyan a Migrants Contributes liderada por un Steering Group.
  • Capacitar a los agentes de cambio para que puedan desafiar las propias narrativas negativas.
  • Movilizar a las comunidades de migrantes para aumentar la participación cívica y fomentar la participación activa en el debate sobre inmigración.
  • Sensibilizar al público en general sobre las muchas formas en que los inmigrantes contribuyen al Reino Unido y sobre la importancia de mantener un debate justo.

LAWRS Latin American Women's Rights Service Migrants Contribute