Dead women walking

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IKWRO takes to the streets to honour the memory of murdered women, and to demand government support for our fight to end violence against women and girls.

On Sunday 22 November 2015, the week of the United Nation’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, we the Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation (IKWRO), joined the Dead Woman Walking march through central London to Parliament Square. As we walked, in respectful silence, the names and ages of 395 women and girls murdered by their partners, ex-partners and family in the UK since 8th June 2012 were read out. It was incredibly sobering, moving and powerful. The final woman, whose name is not yet publicly known, was murdered only the day before we marched.

‘Honour’ killings

The names included women murdered in “honour” killings, such Rania Alayed, a 25 year old Syrian-born mother of three. Her husband has been convicted of her murder and his two brothers, who were involved in moving and concealing her body, have been jailed for intending to pervert the course of justice. Their motivation? They thought Rania was becoming “too westernised”. Rania has even been robbed of the dignity of being laid to rest, as her body has still not been found.

Following accusations of police failures in her case, we continue to await the conclusions of an investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

Devastatingly, IKWRO were not aware of Rania’s case before she was murdered, if we had been, it is almost certain that we would have been able to help save her life, as we have been able to do for many women and girls since our foundation in 2002. Last year alone we gave advice through 2500 telephone calls to women and girls and professionals and we provided intensive support to 800 cases of women and girls at risk, many high risk, of “honour” based violence, forced marriage, female genital mutilation and domestic abuse.

This year we were also able to extend our services by opening the first specialist refuge for Middle Eastern and North African women. But we are working against the odds, as deepening government cuts are making it harder and harder for women’s organisations, especially specialist Black Minority Ethnic organisations like IKWRO, to continue and thrive.

The Istanbul Convention

Why is the date 8th June 2012 significant? This was the date that the British government gave us hope by signing the Istanbul Convention. When ratified, the Istanbul Convention would oblige the government to implement a raft of measures urgently needed to prevent and protect violence against violence against women and girls, including secure funding for specialist organisations like IKWRO. But almost three and a half years later, the government has failed to ratify the Istanbul Convention, which leaves us questioning why our government won’t stand up for the safety of women?

We demand that they do. Join us by signing this petition from the ICChange campaign.

Honouring the dead

In recent weeks we have seen a spate of murders of women from our communities across the world involving “honour” killing and domestic violence. To ensure they too are remembered and honoured and to demand justice, we carried their photographs at the march.

They are:

Snur Omar Raza – Shot dead by her father in an “honour” killing in Kurdistan-Iraq. Her family refused to collect her body to bury her and the authorities refused to allow women’s rights activists to lay her to rest.

Nil Turan – Whilst divorcing her husband in Turkey, she was escorted by the police to her home to collect her belongings and her husband shot and murdered her.

Rokstan M – Murdered in Germany by her family who perceived that she had shamed them by being gang-raped before she fled Syria.

Dilay Gul – Murdered in Turkey by a man at her university after she refused to have a relationship with him

Rokshana – stoned to death in Afghanistan for reclaiming the right to choose her partner after resisting a forced marriage.

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Written by Sara Browne, IKWRO’s Campaigns Officer

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