Allow Belgian Immigrant Victims of Domestic Violence to Report Abuse Without Fear

Target: Howard Gutman, U.S. Ambassador to Belgium

Goal: Ensure Belgian immigrants are granted proper protection against domestic violence

Belgium has a serious and unfortunate gap in its policies protecting immigrant women from domestic violence. If a woman immigrates to Belgium to join a partner but does not become a citizen, she can be deported after reporting domestic violence. This has created a large-scale problem of Belgian immigrant women being trapped in abusive relationships. There should be no connection between reporting domestic violence and deportation.

The problem of domestic violence trumps that of the problem of immigration. Even if the woman is undocumented, even though legal immigrants face deportation as well, there should be a policy in place that encourages them to seek protection and justice for the violence they face at home. It should be made clear that a woman will face zero repercussions for seeking help against abuse. Even if this allows some undocumented aliens to continue to fly under the radar, it is well worth it. Protection and justice should be offered to all people and nothing should deter the victims from coming forward. It is hard enough for the victims of domestic violence to report their abusers without a government policy and potential deportation getting in the way.

The reporting of physical abuse should not be used as a way to track down illegal immigrants for deportation or to simply get rid of non-citizens because their problems inconvenience the justice system. Every person should be made to feel as safe as the next, regardless of their resident status. Belgium can’t claim personal freedom when immigrants are discouraged from seeking help with domestic violence. Belgium must fix the loopholes and not use deportation as a deterrent against the reporting of domestic violence.


Dear Ambassador Gutman,

Immigrant women in Belgium who are victims of domestic violence often let the abuse go unreported for fear of being deported. The Kingdom of Belgium currently has a system in place in which immigrant women, both documented and undocumented, are routinely deported after reporting physical abuse by their partner. This not only deters the women from seeking help, but it allows the abusers to hold possible deportation over the heads of their victims, forcing them to remain in violent relationships.

The matter of immigration is certainly of less import than the protection of victims of violence. It should be made clear to all residents that reporting domestic violence is most definitely in their best interest and the government is there to help. If this takes the form of the authorities responsible for immigration legally not being allowed to meddle in the affairs of victims of violence, so be it. What is most important is that all people in Belgium be afforded protection against domestic violence. Please do all you can as a representative of the United States to help these helpless women.


[Your Name Here]

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