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Archive for October, 2014

I’m a Survivor of ‘Honour’ Based Violence, We Need to Ensure Girls Don’t Feel Abandoned Like I Did

Laila, not her real name, recounts escaping from her parents, who had arranged for her sister Homa, 16, also not her real name, to marry a much older man against her will

Looking back, life could have been very different for me and my two younger sisters if our schools had taught us about our right not to face “honour” based violence and forced marriage, had understood what we were going through so that they could have properly supported us, and if they’d informed us about help that was available.

I was born in Iran. I felt lucky, as unlike some parents, my mum and dad’s dreams were no less for us because we are girls. They wanted us to attend university and have careers. My dad was politically active and when I was 11, it had become too dangerous for us to live in Iran, so we fled to Cyprus. Soon afterwards my mother was diagnosed with Leukaemia. We were sent to the UK so that she could receive treatment. When I was 12 she passed away.

Everything changed when, within a year, dad remarried. My stepmother, who had been a child bride at 13, had strict ideas about girls and she brainwashed dad. We were forbidden to hang out with friends, she controlled what we wore and all three of us, even Maryam who was only six, had to cook, clean, and look after her two sons and the baby she’d had with dad. She was training us to be good housewives and we lived under constant threat that if we did not behave as expected, we’d be sent to Iran to be married off by our uncles.


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Circle of Friends – Halo Project News

Over 50 surviours showed up at Monday’s “Circle  of Firends” meeting to share their stories.

Empowerment for those who need help, Halo supports victims by  providing not just a voice but change and improved outcomes by sharing survivor stories with providers enabling meaningful change and increased understanding through awareness programmes.




REVEALED: Harrowing honour-based violence and forced marriage investigations in Cambridge area

MORE than 20 investigations have been launched over allegations of honour-based violence and forced marriage in the Cambridge area in one year, it has been revealed.

The Cambridgeshire Constabulary was the second force in the country to launch a hotline for victims of the crime in 2007 and has since dealt with some harrowing incidents.

In one case, a young girl was removed against her will from one country to another and forced into marriage. She was rescued from the situation and made safe.

Another woman in an arranged marriage was mentally abused by her husband before she contacted the force. Officers helped her to flee with her children to a place of safety.

Force chiefs said honour-based crimes can be complex and often go unreported because some victims do not feel they can approach the police.

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Data highlights 500 new FGM cases

Nearly 500 females were newly identified as having been subjected to female genital mutilation (FGM) in one month, according to newly released figures.

The Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) said 467 patients treated at reporting acute NHS hospital trusts in England were found to have undergone the illegal procedure in September.

The data also showed that 1,279 female patients previously identified as having been subjected to FGM were being treated at the end of last month.

The findings are the first official figures to have been published on the numbers of FGM cases seen in hospitals in England, with 125 of the 160 acute hospital trusts in England returning data for September.

The HSCIC said the results were a “first step” towards understanding how many females have been subject to genital mutilation, but added that the data only included cases reported by acute hospital trusts.


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Children centre staff trained to spot signs of FGM

Children’s centre staff are being trained to spot the signs of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) amid concerns that girls of nursery age are being subjected to the practice.


Staff in two children’s centres in Islington in London have undertaken training to help them recognise children who might be at risk of FGM, and to be able to reach out to parents in practising communities.

The training, arranged by Manor Gardens, a local charity, forms part of a wider council programme aimed at protecting girls from the practice. If successful, Islington Council plans to roll out training to all 16 of its children’s centres.

The training comes as the NSPCC raises concerns that girls are being subjected to FGM at a younger age because parents are becoming wise to the fact that teachers are now more aware of the issue.


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The “Honoring our Heartbeats” tour to end forced marriages in the U.S. stopped in Houston on Thursday with a community forum and performance to highlight the issue. 

In partnership with Houston NGO’s Daya and Voices Breaking Boundaries, the Tahirih Justice Center and Pomegranate Tree Group brought to life on stage a comic book about breaking free from a cycle of violence. 

“We look at it as a love letter to our communities. This comic book (and performance) is an opportunity for the community to heal together,” said Farrah Khan with Pomegranate Tree Group. 


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These Girls Are Too Young for the Movie, But Old Enough for Marriage?

Belgian charity Plan B is raising awareness of child marriage with a provocative campaign that runs just before age-restricted movies on TV and in movie theaters, and as pre-roll before movie trailers on YouTube. The ads show girls talking about the fact that they’re too young to see the 12+ movie, yet old enough (in the view of certain cultures) to be married to a far older man. The charity, which campaigns against forced marriage, urges viewers in Belgium to sign up as donors to combat the global problem.


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The amazing story of one 23 yr old’s escape from forced marriage

When Katrina Ffiske travelled to Nepal, she met a woman whose strength astounded her – and asked her to share her story

I’m in Kathmandu as part of an eight-week trip volunteering at an orphanage, wandering the tourist streets and absorbing the sights – endless small shops selling everything from pig heads to pashminas – when, to escape the dust, I dodge into a local shop called Women’s Local Handicrafts.

Its shelves are filled with handmade purses, rucksacks and wallets, and in the corner a young woman sits behind a sewing machine. In good English, she introduces herself to me as Nasreen Sheikh, a 23-year-old Sunni Muslim.

After admiring her work (I want one of everything) we start chatting. Nasreen tells me how she runs the business herself – but is terrified that any day now, she’ll be forced into an arranged marriage. I’m shocked, but don’t know much about arranged marriage, so I return the next day to find out a bit more.

We sit together at the back of the shop, surrounded by scarves and bags, drinking spicy, sweet Nepalese tea. Nasreen begins to tell me her story. She comes from a small village in India, and left there aged 14. But soon, she says, she will have to return.

Her mother has arranged for her to marry a local boy – and there’s panic in her voice: “There, women are seen and not heard,” she says. “They don’t even know what the internet is, and people don’t view education as important. Girls are like a commodity. I wish I’d been born a boy.”

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Anti-FGM activist Fahma Mohamed wins young campaigner award

Bristol schoolgirl Fahma Mohamed, the face of a Guardian-backed campaign to raise awareness of female genital mutilation in schools, has been awarded Good Housekeeping’s outstanding young campaigner of the year award.

The award recognises “an extraordinary young woman’s determination and campaigning spirit, in her commitment to preventing the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) and warnings to protect girls across the UK”, said the organisers, who presented the 17-year-old with the award at an event in London on Monday.

Mohamed was the face of the EndFGM Guardian campaign that launched in February and called on the then education secretary, Michael Gove, to write to all teachers in England and Wales, warning them of the dangers of FGM.

Within three weeks, her petition on had attracted more than 230,000 signatures and garnered the public support of Pakistani girls’ education campaigner Malala Yousafzai and the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, who said he had been inspired after meeting Mohamed.

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