First refuge for Middle Eastern and North African women opens

On Friday, 1st May 2015 in London, the Iranian & Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation (IKWRO) opens the first specialist refuge for Middle Eastern and North African women. The refuge will accommodate and support vulnerable single women at risk of “honour” based violence, forced marriage, female genital mutilation and domestic violence.

Women in the refuge will receive specialist support from IKWRO’s expert team who speak six community languages as well as English and provide advice, advocacy, training and counselling. Last year IKWRO assisted over 780 clients face to face and gave advice to over 2500 clients and professionals over the telephone.

Diana Nammi, Founder & Executive Director of the Iranian & Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation (IKWRO) says;

“We are thrilled to be opening the first refuge for Middle Eastern and North African Women (MENA) facing “honour” based violence, forced marriage, female genital mutilation and
domestic violence. Over recent years we have seen severe cuts in refuge spaces as public funding has been slashed. Vulnerable women with no place to stay have returned to violent partners and families or have been forced onto the street, making them highly vulnerable to gangs, prostitution and trafficking and further abuse from any man who will take them in.

It is common for our advice team to spend many hours and often several days, using up precious limited resources trying to find a bed in a refuge for clients who are in immediate
danger, fleeing a violent partner and in “honour” based violence cases, often multiple perpetrators from the family and community. The opening of our new refuge will provide desperately needed extra refuge spaces for women in danger.

The impact of the cuts has been particularly devastating for minority women and many specialist services and refuges have been forced to close down. Several of our clients have limited English, having been imprisoned at home and a number have been turned away from cash strapped refuges which have prioritised women who won’t need an interpreter. We have also had cases of refuges using interpreters who have leaked information to the community, which has resulted in the women having to flee again for their safety. In other cases, mainstream refuges have not fully understood “honour” based violence or forced marriage and have underestimated the level and nature of the risks involved, which has endangered women. As “honour” based violence and forced marriage experts, who speak MENA community languages and therefore do not need to rely on external interpreters, we are perfectly placed to provide holistic, safe refuge support for MENA women and girls.

Opening this refuge has only been possible because of funding from private donors. In order to keep the refuge running we need your support. Please donate at http://localgiving.com/charity/IKWRO or by contacting us.”

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