On behalf of IKWRO and all of the judges we’d like to congratulate every nominee for their vital work to end “honour” based violence and support survivors. Every single one deserves recognition and enormous praise.
Alina Kaur set up the Stonewater Asian Women’s Refuge (08000116420) a decade ago, which supports women and children affected by “honour” based violence, forced marriage and domestic abuse. Under her management, the refuge has secured funding for a dedicated children’s worker who provides therapeutic support and play to children and young people living there, as well as funding for a community Support worker/Resettlement worker who strives to improve awareness around “honour” based violence within Asian communities in the borough, in addition to enabling women resettle into the community and live a life free from abuse. Furthermore, a second stage project has been developed which will accommodate women and children who are ready to be housed within the community, freeing up spaces in the refuge to provide intensive support to those at high risk. In a recent quality assurance inspection, the refuge was awarded ‘6 A’s for Supporting People’ and was also recognised by the Centre for Housing and Support (CHS) as ‘A service of Excellence’ and awarded A grades in their accreditation. Alina is very passionate about empowering women and is dedicated to providing opportunities within the refuge that will develop their English and employability skills alongside other educational aspirations women may have. Alina works closely with the local authority and other professionals, who regularly seek her advice and she is respected throughout the county for her expertise, including on cases where a woman has ‘no recourse to public funds’. She also advocates for women seeking leave to remain who would be subjected to further “honour” based violence should they be forced to return overseas.
Anne Gold brings with her a wealth of experience and expertise, coming from 50 years of learning, researching and teaching in schools and universities in the UK and internationally, focussing mainly on girls and women. For several years she has generously shared her knowledge and advice with IKWRO, working to help develop training programmes and materials on “honour” based violence, forced marriage, FGM and faith-based abuse for public service professionals and young people. Anne has also played a crucial role as an advocate for IKWRO’s Right To Know campaign, helping to set up and have impact at meetings with the NUT and the Institute of Education, where over the past two years IKWRO has educated 1400 trainee teachers to on how to spot the signs that a student may be at risk of “honour” based violence and what to do to ensure they are safeguarded. Anne is incredibly generous with her time and talents and is well-loved by all that she works with.
Antony Wilkinson is a solicitor at the family law department at Burke Niazi Solicitors & Advocates and is a member of the Law Society’s Mental Health Accreditation Scheme. He is praised by members of the voluntary sector for being deeply committed to every case and for ensuring that women at risk of “honour” based violence receive the protection that they need and are able to access their rights under family law. He is noted for being extremely caring and for having a great understanding of the emotional impacts of “honour” based violence on his clients and for his excellent communications skills. He is also known by the voluntary sector as a professional who can be relied upon, who will take on challenging cases and who will always go the extra mile.
Bushra el-Turk and the Silk Moth team
Bushra is a British-Lebanese composer and founder and artistic director of the cross-genre ensemble, Ensemble Zar. Her music is influenced by her Lebanese roots and straddles Eastern and Western idioms. In the years 2013/2014 Bushra was selected as one of BBC’s100 women. Based on a series of workshops and interviews conducted in partnership with IKWRO Bushra along with Co-Directors Michael Moxham, and Maria Koripas, Libretto Eleanor Knight and Designer Giulia Scrimieri created Silk Moth, a one woman opera addressing “honour” killing, performed by Palestinian Soprano Enas Massalha and Ensemble Zar.
It places on stage a mother and raises powerful questions: what is her role in this horrific ‘tradition’? Is she a victim, submissive, or coldly complicit? Funded by Arts Council England, Silk Moth had its Special Preview in November 2015 at Nour Arts festival and was received to great critical aclaim by the cultural editor at the Daily Star Beirut, a major English language newspaper.
Diana Kader was born into a close, loving Yemeni family in the UK. However, when she visited Yemen on holiday a few years ago, she suddenly found herself in a dangerous situation when an influential member of the community decided that he wanted to marry her. Diana bravely stood against patriarchy and refused to marry this man, who she did not love. Shortly afterwards, whilst still in Yemen, she experienced a horrific murder attempt. She is a true survivor and has battled through countless operations. However, her suffering was not over as following her return to the UK, Diana and her family faced ongoing “honour” based violence and harassment from their community here. In spite of all of this pain, physical and emotional, Diana refuses to give in and has pursued her dreams, qualifying and working in forensics. Not only is Diana helping people through her work, she is also raising awareness about “honour” based violence by sharing her story in a book , co-written by Katharine Quarmby, which has been published by Hachette in Poland and which she hopes will one day also be published here in the UK.
Dying to Divorce
Dying to Divorce is a brand new observational documentary about the women fighting against domestic abuse and the murder of women in Turkey. Last year alone over 400 women were killed; the majority were seeking a divorce or separation. And the men are literally getting away with murder by using legal loopholes to argue they were ‘provoked’ by their wives. The film follows the work of Ipek Bozkurt, a young activist lawyer, as she investigates the cases of two survivors Hatice and Kubra Eken, along with other victims. The film tracks this charismatic ‘lawyer with the blue hair’ as she struggles to help Kubra and Hatice access justice, in the face of police indifference and violent intimidation, giving us insight into a what is driving this deadly epidemic. The film is in production but still seeking funding support to bring it completion, relying at the moment on the passion of the team to keep it going.
Fatou Wurie is based in Sierra Leone where she advocates, writes and mobilizes around women’s health issues. Fatou has worked with UNICEF and OPTIONS UK, a DFID supported MamaYe campaign which helped reduce maternal and new-born mortality in six African countries. In 2015, Fatou founded the Survivor Dream Project which works to support, re-integrate and end stigmatisation and attacks on women and children that have survived or been directly impacted by the Ebola virus. The project helps women and girls to kick-start their lives by providing safe spaces, educational and social support and entrepreneurial capacity building. Fatou is an AWDF African Women Writers for Social Change participant, and recipient of the NEXTe Imperial Award and Illumessence Award for community building.
Check out The Survivor Dream Project’s facebook page here.
HMIC’s HBV Team
Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) is the independent body which assesses police forces across England and Wales. In 2015, responding to demand, including IKWRO’s campaign, HMIC carried out its first ever inspection focussing on policing of “honour” based violence. In this ground-breaking investigation, inspectors found that ‘the police are not sufficiently prepared to protect effectively victims of honour-based violence, including forced marriage and female genital mutilation’ and that ‘despite there being pockets of good practice, a lot needs to improve.’
HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary Sir Thomas Winsor said ‘This report is one of the most important ever produced by HMIC, as these are crimes of unique seriousness, involving a degree of vulnerability which is absent in almost every other case’. IKWRO believe that this thorough report, is one of the most significant steps forward in the movement to end “honour” based violence, provides a strong platform from which to ensure victims and survivors receive the comprehensive police protection and support that they require. Key members of the HMIC HBV team are programme lead Tamasine Matthews and team members Simon Alexander, Heather Hurford, Rashid Begum and Craig Guthrie.
Jacky is an exceptional Child Protection Officer based at Highbury Fields School. Jacky fully understands the risks around “honour” based violence and forced marriage and has created a safe environment at the school ensuring that students feel confident in coming forward about any fears and know they will be taken seriously and believed. When disclosures are made, Jacky is absolutely committed to making sure that they are properly safeguarded, listened to and receive the support that they need. She works constructively with appropriate partners including IKWRO and advocates on her student’s behalf with agencies including social services and the police. Jacky’s actions have helped protect young people from harm and have probably saved lives.
Jeroo is a London-based artist and is Parsee and originally from Mumbai, India. In 2000, Jeroo embarked on prolific period of painting, her subject; the violence, oppression and exploitation of women and children. In her words, the subject ‘chose her’. Specific issues that she has focussed on include “honour” killing and female genital mutilation. Her work has been exhibited at a number of galleries and in 2004, her exhibition at the Nehru Gallery ‘What Honour, Whose Honour’ was brought to the public eye by the BBC in an article entitled ‘Prick the viewers’ nerves’. Over the past decade, Jeroo has exhibited her work in support of a number of charities including Amnesty International and IKWRO and in 2014 her work was exhibited at the UK Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict. Jeroo has now moved from painting into a new medium, rug-hooking, with powerful effect.
You can see Jeroo’s art here.
Lisa is a highly respected psychotherapist. Her work from “behind the scenes”, over many years, has had huge positive impact on hundreds of women who have sought counselling to address the damaging mental health effects of “honour” based violence. Through supervision of the clinical work of IKWRO’s Kurdish speaking counselling psychologist, Lisa has helped to shape clinical approaches, to ensure that they address the specific needs of “honour” based violence survivors. She has generously deducted supervision fees and donated extra hours and has always been ready to help, even at short notice. Lisa is a valued pillar of support and is tremendously dedicated to the cause.
Moheb is a BBC correspondent from the Afghan Service at BBC World Service. Moheb’s journalism has had a significant positive impact on Afghan women’s rights within the UK. By producing a documentary on IKWRO’s work, in which he interviewed a survivor and Zahra Rasouli, IKWRO’s Dari/ Farsi Speaking Advisor Advocate for the BBC’s 100 Women series around International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on 25 November 2015 and securing coverage across TV, radio and online in Farsi, Pashto and Uzbek, he helped spark much needed conversations around the issues and let those at risk know about protection and support that is available.
Murdered by my Father
Murdered by My Father is a BBC3 drama produced by the in-house BBC Documentaries team, with the aim of highlighting the issue of honour killing and honour-based violence among BBC3’s young (16-30 year old) target audience. BBC3 has a strong track record in this area, with films such as Murdered by My Boyfriend, about domestic abuse, which is now used in many schools and colleges as part of the PSHE curriculum; the ambition of the BBC Documentaries team behind the film was to have the same impact in a drama about honour killing.
Based on detailed research, the drama takes the story of a fictional girl who has fallen in love with the ‘wrong’ guy, and makes it the basis of a story a mass audience will be able to relate to, and feel strongly about. By engaging the audience in a drama rather than a documentary, the team hoped to hook the audience into the story and make it feel immediate and personal to them. The drama has also become the centrepiece of a BBC3 campaign containing information and interviews for everyone who wants to understand more about the honour system, as well as helplines and other resources for those in immediate need of advice and help.
Saurav is the author of ‘The Butterfly Room’, a book on “honour” based violence, focusing particularly on the South Asian context, as well as addressing the issue globally. Saurav researched the topic thoroughly interviewing more than 250 individuals over two years. He spoke with many victims and survivors and ensured that their voices were amplified. Through media coverage of the book, both within the UK and internationally, Saurav has raised awareness about “honour” based violence, including through the BBC, The Independent, IB Times, Asians UK, Zee TV and Russian TV. The book has also been warmly received by politicians including the Prime Minister David Cameron, Diane Abbott MP, Seema Malhotra MP and Sarah Champion MP as well as by influential public figures including Yasmin Alibhai Brown and the actress Meera Syal. Saurav has used publicity for the book as a platform to advocate for the importance of men’s role in the fight to end “honour” based violence and he provided donations from sales of the book to charities such as Amnesty International, Refuge, Women’s Aid and The Sharan Project.
Savana is a registered charity based in North Staffordshire that holistically supports people affected by sexual violence and “honour” based violence. They can offer a female only space for appointments where appropriate and run the local Independent Sexual Violence Advice Service. Savana also makes effective referrals to ensure client’s full needs are met and provide CPD accredited training to professionals to help them identify victims and survivors to be able to direct them to support. Savana also chairs the local city council’s “honour” based violence subgroup to enable effective partnership working across agencies and ensures that the voices of victims and survivors are heard. To raise awareness about “honour” based violence among schools and health workers, Savana worked with a local theatre company called New Vic Borderlines to develop a play and workshop activity called All Our Daughters? Savana also worked with the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner on an FGM awareness conference.
Scott Albrecht and the Catholic Worker Farm
The Catholic Worker Farm are a charity run by Scott Albrecht with the help of 6 live-in volunteers that provide accommodation, support and a warm welcome to women and children, mainly from Africa and the Middle East as well as from Eastern Europe and Asia, who are destitute and have no recourse to public funds. This help is essential as these women literally have nowhere else to turn to, are highly vulnerable and at risk of being forced onto the street or remaining with perpetrators. The farm can house 23 women and children and so far they have helped 433 guests for various lengths of time. When women have children with them, they can often stay for about a year, providing much needed stability at a time of crises. Guests are provided with holistic support including food, clothing, administrative help, English lessons, group dance and they have recently started a women’s choir. Guests are also offered group and individual psychotherapy. The farm receives no government funding and relies on donations, sometimes given in return for presenting talks and they also grow food and are helped by people sharing their time and skills. The farm also campaigns against the causes of destitution, especially those targeted at asylum seekers and have protested many times including at in front of Yarlswood Detention Centre, the Foreign Office and the Home Office.
The True Honour Awards Judges selected five outstanding nominees as Winners of Awards of Special Recognition
Ini Usanga: Winner of Special Recognition 2016 for Voluntary Sector Contribution to Ending “Honour” Based Violence
Ini Usanga is an international human rights activist based in Ireland. She is a transformational and inspirational speaker, a self-development coach, an entrepreneur and philanthropist. Ini has been honoured consistently for her humanitarian and philanthropic endeavours and has been called a human rights champion by Amnesty International in Ireland. Her humanitarian non-profit organization has supported and directly impacted the lives of over 4000 children, young people and women who are victims, survivors or at risk of honour crimes, family violence and poverty in her adopted country Ireland, her native country Nigeria, as well as Nepal, Democratic Republic of Congo and Kenya. A survivor of forced marriage and child sexual abuse, Ini powerfully draws on her own life experiences which gives hope to and empowers others like her to transform the quality of their lives. Determined to raise awareness about forced marriage in Ireland, Ini used her own personal funds to organise the very first seminar on “Forced Marriage, “Honour” Based Violence and Child Sexual abuse and contributed to research on Forced Marriage in Ireland conducted by the EU parliament. Ini and her team continue to lobby the Irish Parliament for the implementation of laws and policies to protect those at risk of “honour” based violence.
Shabina Begum: Winner of Special Recognition 2016 for Professional Working to End “Honour” Based Violence
Shabina Begum is a solicitor at Dawson Cornwell specialising in children’s law, “honour” based violence, domestic violence, forced marriage, FGM and stranded spouse matters and she is also a human rights activist. At the outset of her career Shabina received prestigious awards including the Blackstone Entrance Exhibition Award and the Lord Lowry Scholarship from the Honourable Society of the Middle Temple. In 2010 she completed a placement at the Gender Justice and Diversity department at BRAC (Bangladesh’s leading development NGO) and worked as an Independent Domestic Violence Advocate with various UK NGOs dealing with high risk DV cases. In 2012 Shabina was awarded a Winston Churchill Travel Fellowship enabling her to conduct legal research on acid violence in Sri Lanka, Cambodia and India and upon return she presented to the European Family Justice Observatory and received a Churchill Fellow Medallion. In 2014 Shabina was selected as one of the 100 top influential Bangladeshis in the UK by the British Bangladesh Power and Inspiration Awards. In 2015 she presented a paper on acid violence at Queen’s University Belfast’s European Conference on Domestic Violence before taking up a professional fellowship as a visiting lawyer at Bangladesh Legal Aid Services where her main focus was child marriage. She spoke at the North South University in Dhaka on International Children’s Day and to the Women in Justice Programme. Shabina addressed a regional police training session in Sylhet and met with the Sylhet High Commission to discuss forced marriage and child abduction. Shabina also contributed to the Shoki Project to reduce violence against women and girls in slum areas. Shabina has been appointed to speak on women’s empowerment and its link to sustainable development at the UN’s Commission on the Status of Women in March 2016 and will speak at a parallel event on combating Domestic Violence organised by Islamic Relief.
Ruth Beni: Winner of Special Recognition 2016 for Creative Contribution to End “Honour” Based Violence
Ruth Beni is an award winning filmmaker, writer and activist. Since 2003, Ruth has been determined to create an animation film tackling the issues of forced marriage and “honour” based violence, however lack of funding held the project back. In that time, Ruth made Two Little Girls, a hugely successful animated short film about sex trafficking, which has been translated into 19 languages and has reached 22 countries across Eastern Europe, Central Asia and the Caucuses. It has been viewed by more than 100,000 direct beneficiaries and reached an audience of over 6 million through media outputs. Ruth’s resolution to make the forced marriage and “honour” based violence film never wavered and with dogged perseverance, networking and support and advice from the violence against women and girl’s sector including IKWRO, Ruth was able to secure funding and created Our Girl, which is based on true accounts from victims and survivors. The film is widely used by many NGOs as a learning and campaign tool and has won the prestigious United Nations Department of Public Information (UNDPI) Gold award as well as a Bronze medal in the Social Issues category at the New York Festival of International Film & TV. Through global partnerships Our Girl will be used to raise awareness and help prevent forced marriages across the world along with Ruth’s new project; one of the first graphic novels addressing forced marriage and “honour” based violence which based on real accounts.
Rashid Begum:Winner of Special Recognition 2016 for Inspirational Survivor of “Honour” Based Violence
Rashid Begum is a survivor of “honour” based violence and attempted forced marriage who has dedicated both her professional and private life to ensuring that others at risk are protected. Just before the age of 18 Rashid was tricked into travelling to Pakistan on the pretence of a holiday and when she resisted forced marriage, she was severely beaten and feared she would be killed. To escape, she was smuggled out of Pakistan but had to return to the family home, where the violence continued and she was attacked with scissors. She fled and was pursued by her family. Today, Rashid still has no communication with her birth family and has none of the ‘usual’ family links or support. Rashid passionately believes in the importance of demonstrating what women and girls can do if they are allowed to be free to exercise their rights without violence, oppression and fear. As a former police officer and a qualified lawyer Rashid has developed expertise and skills which along with her personal experiences she draws on to powerful effect. Rashid was seconded to Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) to work on the ground-breaking first investigation into “honour” based violence policing across England and Wales. By sharing her own experiences, she helped ensure the team understood the full realities of “honour” based violence and successfully commissioned an academic institution to undertake a victim engagement project so that, survivor’s experiences and perspectives were heard, which greatly enhanced the impact of the investigation. She also helped the team to ensure active involvement of experts, including IKWRO, through the Expert Reference Group, which helped design the investigation and was closely consulted throughout. In addition to dedicating her professional working life to ending “honour” based violence, Rashid also commits much of her spare time to self-funded work supporting victims and survivors and delivering training and awareness raising and she was recently invited to speak at the Swedish Parliament. To help maximise her voice, Rashid is now studying an LLM in International Human Rights Law.
Cris McCurley:Winner of Special Recognition 2016 for Lifetime Commitment to End “Honour” Based Violence
Cris McCurley is an outstanding solicitor based at Ben Hoare Bell LLP where she has developed and supervises a specialist team for Black Minority and Ethnic women facing “honour” based violence, forced marriage, female genital mutilation and trafficking, as well as working with abandoned spouses and abducted women and children. In 2013 Cris gave evidence at the United Nations on the impact of cuts to Legal Aid on her client group, which led to a determination against the British Government both on the Residence Test and limitations to Legal Aid for victims of violence. Recently, in 2016 Cris gave evidence on this issue at the Court of Appeal. Cris has developed a national “honour” based violence accreditation scheme through Resolution, the national family law solicitors association and more recently wrote their national guidelines for lawyers working around FGM and has developed a screening toolkit for practitioners. Cris is national examiner and accreditor for the forced marriage, “honour” based violence and FGM panel. When forced marriage was criminalised Cris in 2014 she organised a launch event with the North East’s Principal Family Court Judge to publicise the new protections. Cris piloted and introduced a national decoy court system for high-risk victims to prevent their geographical region being revealed to perpetrators and co-wrote the MOJ/HMCTS Forced Marriage Court Manual. In the same year she was awarded the Law Society’s National Lawyer of the year award for her work with victims of all forms of honour abuse. In 2015, Cris developed a national protocol with the region’s judges on best practice in family law cases involving BME women and children. She has trained police, the judiciary and Local Authorities nationally on best practice for protecting “honour” based violence victims and locally in partnership with the Angelou Centre she has trained judges, police, social services, health workers, CAFCASS officers and teachers. Cris lectures internationally on best practice in “honour” based violence cases and is currently co-authoring a book on the subject with colleagues in the UK and Sweden.
Shaheen Hashmat: Winner True Honour Award 2016
When she was just 12-years-old, Shaheen smuggled what few possessions she could through a back window and into a waiting car in order to escape the threat of forced marriage and “honour” based violence, while police, lawyers and social services made alternative custody arrangements. Her two sisters, who themselves had been forced to marry when they were taken to Pakistan as teenagers under the pretence of a holiday, had contacted the authorities to protect Shaheen from the same fate.
Soon afterwards the shock, trauma and difficulty of adjusting to her new life, estranged from her family, took its toll and Shaheen attempted suicide. In her late teens and early 20s Shaheen began drinking heavily as a way of self-medicating, which left her extremely vulnerable. After many years of therapy, Shaheen was diagnosed in 2011 with bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder, which is often characterised by recurrent suicidal feelings. Although her grades at school had plummeted as a result of her experiences, when she was 22 Shaheen achieved entry to Brunel University where she studied English and Creative Writing. Her love of words had always provided an escape and an outlet for self-expression and she graduated with first class honours, winning the Arthur Scott Prize for best arts project.
As her life began to improve with therapy, Shaheen started to write about some of her experiences in a personal blog, challenging taboos around mental health which are particularly acute within South Asian and Middle Eastern communities, and using her real name as a way of rejecting the codes of ‘honour’ and ‘shame’. Mental health support had helped to alleviate her suicidal feelings, but Shaheen recognised that therapists lacked understanding about some fundamental aspects of her experience, and that these could prove to be insurmountable barriers for other survivors in urgent need of care. For the last five years, Shaheen has been an active campaigner, speaking publicly and behind the scenes to highlight these barriers and to advocate for better support services. She has written for Telegraph Wonder Women as a regular commentator, and through her work with them and with activists like Deeyah Khan, she continues to raise awareness of the mental health impact of honour abuse, including the experience of family estrangement. She has also been vocal about these issues on BBC Asian Network, Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour and a number of other media outlets.
As a result of increased exposure, Shaheen is regularly contacted by others who have had similar experiences, and is now working on a new project to promote their voices and address the wider issues facing South Asian and Middle Eastern women today. Having established Double Bind, an online platform for women from a Muslim background, Shaheen hopes to play her part in continued efforts improve the lives of survivors and address some of the most urgent concerns of our generation.
This award is given to Shaheen in recognition of her lifelong journey taking a stand on “honour” based violence and to demonstrate our warm support for her as an Ambassador for True Honour.