Foreigners suffering domestic abuse at the hands of their partners will no longer automatically be deported from Denmark if they leave the relationship.
Foreigners granted residency because of their relationship with their Danish-based partner can apply to remain in the country after the relationship ends if they have lived together in Denmark for more than two years – if not, they may be deported.
As a result, many victims of abuse choose to remain in violent relationships to avoid being deported to their home country.
But now the Justice Ministry has proposed a new law that will mean that foreigners who are victims of domestic abuse will not be automatically deported if they end their relationship early.
“It was never the goal of immigration rules to keep victims of abuse and their children in marriages with violent spouses or parents,” the justice minister, Morten Bødskov (Socialdemokraterne), wrote in a press release.
Bødskov stressed, however, that the victims of abuse have to demonstrate a will and ability to integrate into Danish society in order to be allowed to remain in the country.
The law change is part of the government’s common policy and is based upon a Norwegian law in which foreign victims of abuse who otherwise don’t satisfy conditions for residency are granted family reunification.
Birgit Søderberg, chairman of Landsorganisationen af Kvindekrisecentre, which runs women’s crisis centres across Denmark, told Politiken newspaper that the proposal was a positive move.
“In the best case scenario, the law change will mean that women suffering violence are freed from the prisons that they are living in,” Søderberg told Politiken. “We have many women in our crisis centres who are in this position, and in our experience they risk social exclusion and even their lives if they return home.”
According to the Danish National Centre for Social Research, SFI, around 26,000 women in Denmark were the victims of domestic abuse last year.