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Violence Against Non-Status Women

Violence against women with no legal status in Canada may look different because of the unique circumstances they are living in. Non-status women face more barriers to accessing support.

Who are Non-Status Women in Ontario?

Non-status women are women living in Ontario with no current immigration or refugee status with the Canadian Federal Government. There is little data about the number of non-status women in Ontario. However, there are estimates that between 20,000 and 200,000 non-status people reside in Canada.

How is Violence Against Non-Status Women Distinct?

This section will cover the specific experiences of violence that non-status women may face. Please add this information to what you learned in the sections on violence against women, the types of violence and the warning signs of domestic violence.

Non-status women may experience violence in distinct ways. For example:

  • The violence may include the abuser threatening to report her to immigration authorities and have her deported
  • The violence may include labour trafficking, i.e. employers with the power to control someone and make them believe they have no choice but perform a certain task or service
  • She may may be isolated from others – especially if she has no friends, family or a social or professional networks established in Canada
  • In addition to domestic violence, non-status women may experience discrimination on the basis of their status. They also may face discrimination or profiling based on race, ethnicity, faith, language, ability, age, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, and class

What Barriers Prevent Non-Status Women from Accessing Support?

Gaps in social service systems and constant fear of deportation can prevent non-status women from accessing support for domestic violence.

For example:

  • She may fear calling the police in an emergency because the police may share her lack of status with Canadian Border Services
  • She may fear accessing supports within the community and social service agencies because her status could become known
  • She will not qualify for services that require proof of status
  • She may face language barriers and there may not be interpreters available to her when she seeks services
  • She may not have access to information about Canadian law
  • She cannot access health care

What Legislation and Policies Impact Non-Status Women Living With Violence?

Increased Risk of Detention: Mandatory detention for “irregular arrivals” or being detained indefinitely when a deportation order has been issued are risks that non-status women and their families face.