Archive for February, 2015

Domestic violence and forced marriage survivors demand Welsh Government educate school children on healthy relationships

When Rachel Williams’ husband first hit her she convinced herself it was a one-off, she was to blame, he loved her and it wouldn’t happen again.

It did happen again and continued to happen for 18 years until, in 2011, Darren Williams burst into the hairdressers where she worked and blasted her in the legs with a double-barrelled shotgun.

After trying to kill her, Rachel’s husband then killed himself.

“I was in an abusive relationship for 18 years that began when I was only 17,” Rachel, from Newport, said.

“I was about 19 and seven months pregnant when Darren was first violent with me. He lifted me off the floor by my throat and didn’t drop me until I was blue in the face.

“After he would hurt me Darren would apologise and tell me he loved me, that he couldn’t live without me and that he would kill himself if I left.

“I didn’t know any different. Domestic violence was all I’d known.”

Read More: http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/domestic-violence-forced-marriage-survivors-8698879

Campaigners threaten to withdraw support for domestic violence bill

Campaigners for a law to protect women from violence and domestic abuse are threatening to withdraw their support unless the Welsh Government makes changes to the bill. Wales Violence Against Women Action (WVAWA) wants the bill to include provision for a specially trained teacher in every school in Wales to deal with issues such as sexual violence and forced marriage.

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The Welsh Government says the bill aims to end all forms of domestic abuse

 

It comes on the day that ministers meet to discuss the legislation and consider recommendations. The new law will put an obligation on councils and health boards to have strategies for ending gender-based violence.

Read More: http://www.itv.com/news/wales/2015-02-23/campaigners-threaten-to-withdraw-support-for-domestic-violence-bill/

Online tool joins fight against forced marriage in US

Forced marriage, defined as marriage that takes place without the full and free consent of one or both parties, occurs primarily among young women and girls from immigrant communities. A 2011 survey by Tahirih, the first to be conducted on forced marriage in the United States, reported as many as 3,000 cases of known or suspected forced marriage in the prior two years, primarily among young women. The cases represented women from 56 different countries and of various religions.

Tahirih said the online tool was designed not only to serve women and girls at risk but to raise awareness of the issue among those in a position to help them. “We’ve done our best with trainings and outreach, but if a teacher from a high school in Idaho is grappling with this issue with a student, we want them to be able to better understand it, their student’s needs and the risks involved in this situation,” said Heather Heiman, an attorney who heads Tahirih’s Forced Marriage Initiative.

Designed to be a one-stop resource in the United States for people facing or fleeing forced marriage and those trying to help them, PreventForcedMarriage.org is a product of the Virginia-based Tahirih Justice Center, a legal services and advocacy group working with immigrant women and girls.

Many young women reporting forced marriage do not know their legal rights, are reluctant to get their families in trouble, and fear violence or retribution from family members who arranged the marriage, according to Tahirih.

“If they can look up forced marriage in the United States on Google and find PreventForcedMarriage.org … that’s a huge step in the right direction,” Heiman told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Read more: http://bdnews24.com/technology/2015/02/23/online-tool-joins-fight-against-forced-marriage-in-us

 

No arrests spark worry over new forced marriage legislation

NO ARRESTS have been made in Lancashire under forced marriage laws since new legislation was introduced last summer – prompting fears the powers are not being used.

Forcing somebody to get married against their will was made a criminal offence in June and the move was welcomed by campaigners, who said the law would empower victims to report the issue to the police.

No arrests spark worry over new forced marriage legislation

However, following a Freedom of Information request, the Lancashire Telegraph can revealed that in the eight months following the law’s introduction, not a single arrest was made in the county.

Forced marriage and domestic violence specialist Rachel Horman, a director at Watson Ramsbottom Solicitors, which has offices in Blackburn, Darwen, Great Harwood and Accrington, said she believed police were not putting their new powers to use.

Miss Horman, who is from Burnley, said: “It is definitely not a case that there have not been any forced marriages during this time. I have seen loads of cases in that period.

Read More: http://www.lancashiretelegraph.co.uk/news/11796808.No_arrests_spark_worry_over_new_forced_marriage_legislation/

Cleveland & Durham Police & Crime Commissioner talk Female Genital Mutilation

Two of the North East’s Police and Crime Commissioners have spoken about their support for raising awareness of International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation.

Halo Project Poster FGM

 

Cleveland Police and Crime Commissioner, Barry Coppinger, and Durham Police and Crime Commissioner, Ron Hogg, have pledged their support and have made a commitment in the long term to raise further awareness and understanding of female genital mutilation (FGM).

The International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is a United Nations Campaign held on 6 February each year to stop genital mutilation to women and girls.

FGM refers to a range of procedures which involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia for non-medical reasons. It is sometimes referred to as female circumcision or cutting.

As a part of the day the Police and Crime Commissioner’s for Cleveland and Durham, alongside the Halo Project, a local charity supporting victims of honour based violence, forced marriage and FGM have launched a poster campaign encouraging victims of FGM to come forward and break the silence.

Yasmin Khan, Director of the Halo Project, said: “The Halo Project is working in partnership across Cleveland and Durham to supportvictims of FGM and raise awareness of the risks and signs of this abhorrent crime.”

 

Read More: http://policehour.co.uk/cleveland-durham-police-crime-commissioner-talk-female-genital-mutilation/9405

Men Break Down Watching Footage Of Female Genital Mutilation, Vow To Speak Out Against Practice

Sometimes it takes a glimpse into a dark reality in order to spark positive change.

In a video produced by advocacy group Safe Hands for Mothers, young men were asked if they knew what female genital mutilation, or FGM, is, and none of them did. The men then watched clips from a documentary that showed the abusive practice — which partially or entirely removes the female genitals for non-medical reasons (the clips were recreations and did not show actual victims, according to Safe Hands for Mothers).

Many of the young men cringed, squirmed in their seats and cried as the disturbing footage played.

“This is just barbaric,” one of them said.

“I felt powerless,” another man noted. “I felt like I couldn’t do anything to help.”

The video concludes with the men saying, “Now that I know, I say ‘no’ to FGM.”

Although most African countries have banned FGM, the practice is still most prevalent there, as well as in the Middle East, as Reuters reported. FGM — which has no health benefits and can cause infertility, problems urinating, severe bleeding and infections — has affected more than 125 million girls and women who are alive today, according to the World Health Organization.

Read More: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/02/06/fgm-young-men-video_n_6630498.html

Woman arrested at Heathrow for conspiracy to commit FGM

Zimbabwe-born British national was arrested as she boarded a flight from London to Ghana via Amsterdam with an eight-year-old girl
Police were out in force in Heathrow

Police were out in force in Heathrow speaking to passengers going to and from countries where FGM is common. Photograph: David Levene

The Zimbabwe-born British national was arrested just after midday before she boarded a flight from London to Ghana via Amsterdam with an eight-year-old girl. The child has been taken into the care of social services.

The arrested woman was taken to a west London police station before being transferred to Northamptonshire police who are to investigate further.

Read More:http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/feb/06/woman-arrested-heathrow-fgm

Dramatic Video Shows Stark Contrast Between Life As A Child Bride And As A School Girl

Girls give up a lot when they are forced into marriage.

A video produced by UNICEF highlights how different life is for a child bride as compared to a girl who can access an education.

The PSA — which focuses on child brides in Chad — begins with a girl who died during childbirth. It follows the girl’s life in reverse, reliving each step that preceded her death, before revealing how her life could have unfolded, had she avoided marriageand gone to school instead.

It ends with the girl happily attending class and meeting new friends.

“Girls who are married before their 18th birthdays are not only denied their childhood, but are often socially isolated and subjected to violence and limited opportunities for education and employment,” Bruno Maes, UNICEF representative in Chad, said, according to the organization. The humanitarian group notes that, in Chad, a girl is more likely to die giving birth than to attend secondary school.

Read More: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/02/04/child-brides-chad-unicef_n_6607552.html

Kidnapped at 13: Nepal’s Dalit child brides

On a freezing night three years ago, 13-year-old Susmita Kami sneaked out of her husband’s house and didn’t stop running until she reached her parents’ doorstep in Nepal’s remote northwest.

Her escape from a forced marriage — a tradition many teenage girls from the Himalayan nation’s Dalit community are expected to uphold — was soon under threat. But Susmita’s parents resisted demands from her in-laws to send her back, deciding to stand by their pleading daughter who desperately wanted a better life.

Susmita Kami, who three years ago as a 13-year-old snuck out of her husband's house and fled to her parents' home to escape a forced marriage, walks home fro...

Susmita Kami, who three years ago as a 13-year-old snuck out of her husband’s house and fled to her parents’ home to escape a forced marriage, walks home from school with a friend ©Prakash Mathema (AFP)

“I told them I never wanted to get married and I wasn’t going back. I ran away because I wanted to stay in school,” Susmita, now 16, told AFP. Although Nepal banned child marriage in 1963, four out of ten girls are married before they turn 18, according to UNICEF.

Read More: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/afp/article-2938991/Kidnapped-13-Nepals-Dalit-child-brides.html

 

Student Halo Project – Durham

Student Halo Project – Durham

Durham University Student Halo project are working to raise the awareness of forced marriage and honour based violence. Working with the Pro Bono Society, a group of Student Ambassadors have been recruited to spread the work of the project through a timeline of events which have included the screening of Benaz Mehmood, a mock trial for criminality of forced marriage and a whole host of upcoming events.
The Halo Project is an initiative aimed at providing support to victims, and advise to agencies, on issues of Honour Based Violence, Forced Marriage, Female Genital Mutilation and abuse.

They work with key partners in a myriad of agencies such as the Crown Prosecution Service, the Forced Marriage Unit and the Police to provide necessary interventions and advice for the protection and safety of their victims.

The Student Halo Project is a new project under the Durham Pro Bono Society acting as a support unit for the Halo Project.

Halo Student Project

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Team Structure

Charity Liaison Officer
Maya Nirula

Student HALO Project Leader
Ifsa Mahmood
Ensuring the student-run project runs provides continuous support for the parent charity, in its aim to raise awareness and provide a channel for victims to seek help both within the university and surrounding communities. The project leader also aims to develop external networks with relevant organisations and institutions, as well as overseeing the activities of the five team structures.

Events
Led by Lizzy Wauchope
Organising inter- and intra- university events with the aim of increasing awareness and understanding. Additionally responsible of reaching out to and networking with relevant external organisations and institutions to support the cause.

Publications & Media
Led by Tessa Ong
Creating informative content through:
(1) printed publications for use in corporation-training sessions and agencies regarding legal obligations; (2) electronic medias such as radio shows and videos;
(3) interactive e-learning platform.

Campaigns
Led by Karina Suhenda
Raising awareness both within the university as well as the local community through campaigns and social media publications.

Projects
Led by Amy Coles
Speaking out and spreading awareness through talks in both surrounding institutions such as schools and clinics, as well as welfare officers within the university colleges. Officers are trained and qualified to ‘go out into the field’ to meet with survivors.

Treasury
Led by Cecilia Trisno
Fund-raising to ensure the smooth running of the project, as well as managing the budget for campaigns, events and publications throughout the year.

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