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Archive for January, 2015

Female genital mutilation is child abuse says Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens

“Female Genital Mutilation is child abuse and only by working together more effectively can we protect girls from harm” were the words of Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens at a conference on Tuesday (January 27th, 2015).

Tackling Honour-Based Violence, Forced Marriage and FGM was the subject of a national conference, where the PCC was invited to speak about delivering collaborative leadership across statutory agencies to drive forward community-wide engagement.

In her address PCC Ms Mountstevens outlined three key things that collectively she believes need to be worked on.  These were  recognising and working with local community groups who can speak out about issues that affect them and campaign for change; empowering frontline professionals to join together and build up effective working practices; clear and visible commitment from leaders.

Ms Mountstevens said: “One of the top priorities in my Police and Crime Plan is tackling domestic and sexual abuse, particularly against women and children. So on the issues of honour based violence, forced marriage and in particular FGM, I am using my role to further efforts to tackle these crimes.

“We need to work together; Education, Social Services, Health and the Police, we all have different tools and powers to safeguard our communities and it only by sharing expertise will we be more effective.”
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How do we keep girls safe?

I am hurrying through a maze of streets in a city in Pakistan with two officials from the British High Commission in Islamabad. It’s a race against time to rescue a British girl who fears she is being forced into marriage against her will. Sana, a 19-year-old from the Midlands, was brought here by her parents, lured with the promise that she could go to university. Instead, she was physically abused when she refused to marry a man she had never met.

Sana cannot leave the house and is afraid to speak on her mobile, but she can text. Smartphone technology enables British Consul Simon Minshull and his local colleague Neelam Farooq to pinpoint the house. Taken unawares, Sana’s parents let the officials in, and Farooq immediately insists on seeing her alone, telling her father they are concerned for her welfare. Once alone, Sana tells Farooq she is desperate to leave. “She has asked for assistance and we cannot refuse that,” Farooq firmly tells her father.

Now Minshull demands the girl’s British passport. While her father stalls, Farooq hustles Sana out. The family have made a phone call and more relatives are on their way. Things could turn nasty. Within minutes, Sana is in our armoured convoy and we are speeding away. A slight figure with a quiet but determined manner, she confides that she was terrified the officials would not come, or that her father would not let her go.

“The abuse was very bad,” she says, admitting she had considered suicide rather than go through a forced marriage: “I thought the easiest way out was death, hard as that is… either that or get the embassy to help.”

The dramatic rescue in Pakistan was the culmination of work by a special government team – the Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) in the Foreign Office. It deals with around 1,400 cases a year but believes there may be more than 6,000. The unit has cases in 74 countries, but 42 per cent involve Pakistan, due to the large diaspora community in the UK. Last summer, forced marriage was made a criminal offence in Britain – a signal from the Government that the practice, which can lead to abuse, rape and murder, will no longer be tolerated. “Forced marriage is a government priority,” says Minshull, “and our commitment is that we will use the option of rescuing someone where we need to.”

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‘Married at 15 to a man twice your age’ – ads against under-age marriage target migrants

The New South Wales Government’s “Child Not Bride” campaign features an advertisement with two smiling schoolgirls.

It asks the question, “What girl dreams of being married at 15 to a man twice her age that she has never met?”

It goes on to emphasise that “being forced to marriage under-age ruins a girl’s future and is against the law in Australia.”

The advertisement is being printed in ethnic newspapers and through digital media, and a radio advertisement is also being produced in community languages.

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Halo tackles forced marriage

VICTIMS of forced marriage and so-called honour-based violence are to get extra support, under a new project launched today (Friday, January 23).

The Halo project is being funded in County Durham and Darlington by Police and Crime Commissioner Ron Hogg and was launched at The Durham Centre, on Belmont Industrial Estate, Durham.

It is aimed at ensuring victims of forced marriage and honour-based violence get the support and advice they need.

Among those attending the launch with Mr Hogg were the North East Chief Crown Prosecutor Gerry Wareham, Halo’s Yasmine Khan and victims of such crimes.

The event included the unveiling of a student Halo campaign, aimed at raising awareness of such issues among young people.


Honour Based Violence and Forced Marriage – Halo Project

You have a right to choose. Are you being forced into marriage or are you already in a forced marriage? If the answer is yes call us now to discuss your options on 01642 683045

Halo Project- Here to help

Nationally there are approximately 12 reported Honour Killings per year in the United Kingdom. If you are worried about your situation, contact us now for help or advice on 01642 683 045

FGM suspects appear in court in UK’s first genital mutilation trial

A hospital doctor carried out female genital mutilation on a young mother after the birth of her first child in a London hospital, a court has heard .

Mounting the first prosecution against someone for carrying out FGM in England and Wales, the Crown alleged that Dr Dhanuson Dharmasena, a junior registrar in obstetrics and gynaecology at the Whittington hospital, had mutilated a 24-year-old mother by the manner in which he had sewn her up after childbirth.

The woman had undergone type 3 FGM – in which part of the labia are sewn together – as a child in Africa, and during labour the doctor had made two cuts to her vaginal opening to ensure the safe delivery of her baby. When Dharmasena sewed her up, a midwife warned him that what he had done was illegal. He asked a consultant for advice, and the more senior doctor said it would be “painful and humiliating” to remove the stitch he had made, and it remained in place, the court heard.

“It is the stitching back together by Dr Dharmasena which the prosecution says is an offence under the act,” Kate Bex, prosecuting, told Southwark crown court.

Dharmasena, 32, is charged alongside another man, Hasan Mohamed, 41, who is accused of aiding and abetting the doctor. Both men deny the charges.

The doctor, who qualified in 2005, and began specialising in obstetrics and gynaecology in 2008, had been at the Whittington for a month when the events took place in 2012.


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How One Woman Escaped Forced Marriage and Thrived

“Courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it,” said Nelson Mandela. Nasreen Sheikh is, undoubtedly, one of the most courageous people I have ever met. She is a social entrepreneur living in Nepal and is subverting the typical role of a woman in her society. She is changing the lives of dozens of women in Nepal and has a goal to help hundreds more. This is Nasreen’s story.

At 23 years of age, Nasreen Sheikh radically redefines what it means to be a Nepali woman. She is a Sunni Muslim living in a predominately Hindu community and is the founder of a fair-trade sewing collective called Local Women’s Handicrafts, based in the country’s capital of Kathmandu. The company sells bags, scarves, wallets and shirts; and only employs women from disadvantaged backgrounds. The business focuses on empowering and educating women with the intent to change the cultural and social norms in Nepal.

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Leo Burnett Designed This Shocking Cover of Cosmopolitan to Protest ‘Honor Killings’

In 2004, a 17-year-old British-Pakistani woman named Shafilea Ahmed was suffocated and murdered by her parents, in front of her siblings, after she refused an arranged marriage.

Her death is referenced clearly and heartbreakingly on limited-edition covers of the February issue of Cosmopolitan magazine in the U.K. to raise awareness about so-called honor killings—in which a person is murdered by a family member for bringing what the killer believes is shame upon the family.

Leo Burnett Change, Leo Burnett’s specialist arm dedicated to social change, designed the cover, which features a plastic wraparound encasing an image of a woman appearing to be suffocated. It’s part of a campaign for Karma Nirvana, the U.K. charity that helps victims of honor-based violence.

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