Dramatic increases in domestic violence during pandemic lockdowns have been widely reported globally and in the UK. In Britain, migrant women have been especially vulnerable given barriers in accessing support, especially among those with insecure immigration status. This lack of assistance has been compounded by the failure of the Domestic Abuse Act (passed April 2021) to recognise the needs of migrant women survivors, putting this community at further risk.


This project aims to work directly with migrant women in the UK who have experienced gender-based violence, before and during the pandemic, using innovative, creative arts-based mechanisms a) to enhance the immediate wellbeing of migrant women’s communities and support urgently needed community healing and b) to capitalise on wider political and policy trends to develop and deliver innovative forms of policy engagement, using the testimonies of this marginalised and vulnerable group to influence key decision-makers.

This will be achieved by developing a new creative and policy-relevant collaboration (between McIlwaine and Sreenan [KCL] and Migrants in Action [MinA] and People’s Palace Projects [PPP]) to use McIlwaine’s ESRC research on violence against Brazilian migrant women (2016-2018) and complementing an existing ESRC-IAA investment on Women Resisting Violence .

The project will develop a multimedia installation and online audio-visual experience with Brazilian artists and 12 migrant women survivors through a series of applied arts workshops run by MINA and PPP based on the research ‘We Can’t Fight in the Dark’. The process will be captured through ‘before and after’ qualitative evaluation assessing the impact of the intervention which will also inform the development of a policy toolkit to be distributed across this collaborative group’s extensive network of stakeholders.

This project is funded by King’s College London, via the Slingshot Fund Scheme

Main research activities

Participatory drama workshops with Brazilian women using Theatre of the Oppressed (a technique created by Brazilian theatre-maker and activist Augusto Boal) led by MinA. These will explore the nature, causes and consequences of gender-based violence and the impact of the pandemic on their recovery process based on the findings from ‘We can’t fight in the dark’.

A short video film performed by participants based on their stories, sounds and body movements developed during the workshops to be used in the multimedia installation.

A multimedia installation designed by Nina Franco to give new meanings to everyday objects and textile such as hangers and red yarn making visible the cruelty and reality of violence against women and bringing a three- dimensionality to the installation.

Evaluation and monitoring 4) interviews and development of a toolkit. This will entail a ‘before and after’ qualitative evaluation and development of a toolkit to illustrate how to utilize creative outputs and applied arts activities to influence policy-making and advocacy.

Project Partners

The project, led by Professor Cathy McIlwaine (King’s College London), was developed with partners from the following organisations:

Project's Team

Prof Cathy McIlwaine (PI)
Prof Niall Sreenan (CoI)
Carolina Cal Angrisani (MinA Creative Director – Facilitator)
Renata Peppl (Project Manager)
Nina Franco (Visual Artist)
Alba Cabral (Sound Artist)
Louise Carpenedo (Filmmaker)