True Honour Awards 2018

IKWRO are delighted to announce the nominees and winners of the True Honour Awards 2018

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.

Chris Boughey

Chris Boughey is a detective in the Major Crimes Unit of the Peoria, Arizona Police Department (United States). In 2009, Chris was assigned as the Lead Detective in the Noor Al-Maleki murder investigation, which he oversaw throughout until the final sentencing in April 2011. Noor’s father, Faleh Al-Maleki was sentenced to 34 years in prison for using a car to run over his 20-year-old daughter, who he claimed had become “too Westernized.”  Since then, Chris has served as a law enforcement liaison and subject matter expert. He works with international NGOs that investigate and intervene in cases involving “honour” based violence, as well as helping law enforcement personnel better understand these crimes and by  developing a curriculum for law enforcement and social service organisations.  Chris has earned a number of awards including Officer of the Year, Police Service Excellence Award, Meritorious Service Award, Distinguished Service Award, Life Saving Award and the AHA Foundation’s Honour Award.  He was a consultant for the award winning film, “Honor Diaries,” featuring nine brave activists fighting for gender equality and human rights in Muslim majority societies and he spoke at the University of Arkansas’s first-ever symposium on “honour” killings in April, 2017.

Jag Lall

Jag Lall is an artist who through the mediums of comic books, illustration, and painting, uses his creativity to raise awareness about “honour” based abuse and related issues. Jag created a unique graphic novel called ‘1400’. The story is about Sharanjeet, a young Sikh girl, who struggles with an emotional battle after suffering the trauma of rape and physical and mental abuse. The work addresses the issue of shame in the context of how difficult she finds it to tell her parents about her ordeal. With its meld of narrative and art, it engages young people and encourages shame free dialogue. ‘1400’ has recently entered education circles and has been used by The Khalsa Academy in Wolverhampton. It has also been distributed in the Midlands by Sikh Youth UK and has been very well received by survivors of abuse as well as organisations such as Enough Abuse UK and Faith Matters.

Jag has also supported and worked on a number of other project’s that raise awareness on “honour” based violence, including designing the cover of Kalbir Bain’s new book ‘NOT our daughter! The true story of a daughter-in-law’.

Kerry Gibson

Kerry Gibson is the President, Econ Century Technologies. In the spring of 2017, Kerry and her team launched the campaign “Not Yet for the Dress” supported by UN Women, in coordination with a gala, 6 month media campaign for education and awareness. In addition they held fundraising campaign for seed capital to build two culturally sensitive transition houses with capacity for 100 women and children, which are currently in the design phase. Kerry is working with the British Columbia Institute of Technology and a variety of content providers to create a virtual reality teaching tool for First Responders counsellors and teachers about “honour” based violence, the red flags and nuances. Kerry has been featured in numerous publications and on television and radio, regarding gender equality issues. Recently, she spoken at Simon Fraser University for the Creating Connections conference, the Commission on the Status of Women, World Vision, She Talks and at the UN. For her significant contribution to this field, she has received various Awards including the Times of Canada Community Excellence Award for Leadership in Advocacy and Innovation, UN Women’s Planet 5050 Champion award and the Shakti Award of Excellence for Resilience.

Kirthi Jayakumar

Kirthi Jayakumar is a gender equality and rights activist, freelance journalist and writer, based in India. She founded The Red Elephant Foundation, an initiative tackling “honour” based violence and gender inequality built on storytelling, civilian peace-building and activism. The Foundation works with communities to facilitate a shift in mind-sets focussing on the values of respect, empathy, equality and tolerance across genders. Kirthi has coded an app to help survivors of gender-based violence find support, she curated an exhibit for International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month at the US Consulate General in Chennai and gave a TEDx Talk at TEDxChennai. Kirthi is a Global Youth Ambassador with ‘A World At School’ and has been an active participant of the UN Online Volunteering program, for which she received two awards. Her activism has also been celebrated with many other awards including the US Presidential Services Medal in 2011 and the Rising Stars Award 2016. In 2016, she was recognised as one of the “52 Feminists” by and as a Burgundy Achiever at the Digital Women Awards 2016, she was selected as an Impact Leader at World Pulse and won the Orange Flower Award for Video Blogging. Kirthi was featured on Google’s WomenWill Landing page on International Women’s Day 2017 and was declared as one of “eleven of India’s feminist bloggers who are making a difference to women’s lives” by Women’s Web.

Lavinia Wasserman

Lavinia Wasserman is an immigration solicitor, who has represented a wide range of clients made vulnerable by their circumstances, in their immigration matters, civil claims and public law proceedings. She has assisted victims of trafficking, forced labour, FGM and domestic violence to secure safety in the UK. She recently represented a client of IKWRO who had experienced multiple traumatic events, including trafficking and domestic abuse, is at risk of “honour” based violence and was facing removal for a second time. Lavinia handled the case with skill and knowledge, ensuring that an appropriate interpreter was used, and gained a full understanding of the client’s history and the risks she faced. She achieved refugee status for the women and ensured that she was fully supported throughout. She also helped to ensure that the client received appropriate help for her presenting mental health issues. The client is in full support of Lavinia’s recognition for her wonderful work in these awards.

Leila Belghazouani

Leila Belghazouani from Limes College, a Pupil Referral Unit, is passionate about tackling “honour” based violence and ensuring student’s safety and wellbeing. Student’s feel very comfortable opening up to her and her whole-school approach is a model of good practice. Leila understands the important role that every member of staff has to play, ensuring all, including the receptionists and caretaker, have been trained. Limes College’s policy on violence against women and girls has been developed with their students and family group.  When a student is at risk, Leila is a strong advocate, working closely with social services, the police and other agencies. She will always challenge a decision, where she believes risk has been underestimated, and this has resulted in many young people being protected from harm. This includes students who have been taken out of the UK being returned back to safety. Leila’s commitment extends far beyond Limes College. She has spoken at many conferences and works with mainstream, primary and secondary schools and other Pupil Referral Units to train and enable them to feel confident in educating their staff and students about “honour” based violence. Recently she worked with an all-boy’s grammar school to develop lesson plans to engage boys on the issue. As well as working with IKWRO, Leila has also overseen collaborations with many voluntary and statutory organisations including Tender, Against Violence and Abuse (AVA) and the Home Office, Police and Social Services.  With AVA, students created a digital online toolkit for professionals, which received national media coverage, won a European Media Award and a silver award at the National Learning Awards and is now used up and down the country.

Lesley Delmenico

Lesley Delmenico is a theatre academic and practitioner. Her work focuses on political, community, and women’s performances.  Whenever she has the opportunity, away from her teaching responsibilities at Grinnell College, Iowa, Lesley works to bring the voices of discounted women to public awareness, by creating theatre pieces in their own words. Lesley’s extra-academic theatre practice began in Mumbai, collaborating with the NGO Marketplace India and slum-dwelling women artisans to devise a play about the water insecurity that shapes their lives.  Recently, Lesley’s been working in London through the NGO’s Women Against Rape and FORWARD with women affected by sexual violence and with immigrants trying to observe traditions and, at the same time, remake identities in a new country.  She also served as Theatre Royal Stratford East’s Scholar-in-Residence for the Home Theatre Project, exploring performances of diversity throughout London. Lesley spent time at IKWRO meeting clients and the advice and counselling teams to understand the nuances of “honour” based violence. Based on the experiences they shared, Lesley created a powerful spoken word monologue piece called ‘I am here’ about a young survivor of child marriage. The performance’s debut was at the House of Lords in October 2017 and in January a further performance was given at ‘That’s what she said’ a sold out spoken word night in Shoreditch. On both occasions the audiences were blown away. IKWRO has plans to use the piece in further campaigning on child marriage. Lesley’s through-line is the determination to help women speak out safely, bringing their words to wider publics.

Martine Browne & Francesca Valli

The refuge garden project

In 2015, IKWRO opened the first specialist refuge for Middle Eastern women at risk of “honour” based violence. The women have been through highly traumatic experiences and it’s well known that fresh air and green spaces are of therapeutic benefit. However as the women continue to be at risk, it is dangerous for them to spend much time outside. The refuge has an enclosed, safe outdoor space but it was not in a usable or welcoming state. Martine, a retired landscape designer has volunteered lots of time, skills and hard graft to transform it working closely with the women who have been involved from the start and have inspired the design. Francesca had heard about the project through reading about its crowdfunding appeal in the Evening Standard. Not only did she kindly donate to ensure the target was met, she has volunteered her time, passion and expertise as a project manager, to help with keep the project on track. The hard landscaping is almost complete and next stage, planting, is beginning. The women are really looking forward to enjoying the safe sanctuary of the garden this summer.

Maryam Namazie

Maryam Namazie is an activist and rights campaigner who has led many women’s rights campaigns including against stoning, executions and sexual apartheid, particularly in Islamic societies. Much of the work she does is around combating “honour” based violence, though it is often not considered as such. Particularly in the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain, which Maryam co-founded in 2007, she has worked with thousands of young women and men in Britain and internationally, who are at risk of or facing “honour” based violence for “shaming” their family, “community” and even Islam by becoming atheists or “apostates” and “blasphemers.” Many continue to face physical violence, threats to death and murder, forced marriage as well as shunning and ostracism for their non-belief and refusal to abide by religious rules. The persecution of ex-Muslims is too often ignored and victims are blamed for the shunning and violence they face. They are often censored and silenced rather than accepted individuals who have the human right to think and live freely without threats and risk of “honour” based violence.

Neelam Sarkaria

Neelam Sarkaria was called to the Bar in 1988, she worked for the CPS for 24 years and is now an independent criminal justice consultant with specific expertise in gender-based violence. She has developed and delivered training for prosecutors, lawyers, health, education and social care professionals on forced marriage, “honour” based abuse and FGM and has recently been appointed to the Expert Advisory Panel for the Ending Domestic Violence Global Foundation. Neelam is the Criminal Justice Advisory Member of the Desert Flower Foundation (UK), an international charity committed to the eradication of FGM, and is a Community Ambassador for the Sharan Project. Neelam’s expertise regarding the law around harmful traditional practices is recognised in her Honorary Lectureship in English Law at Aberdeen University. She also provides expert input to New Buckinghamshire University. Furthermore, Neelam is an expert adviser to UN Women on prosecution and gender-based violence and is former Chair and Vice-President of the Association of Women Barristers (AWB). She led the Women in Criminal Law series, in which she addressed “honour” based abuse, and in September 2017 she organised an important European conference in London aimed at increasing the legal profession’s knowledge about harmful practices.

Noelle Doona

Hendon School

Noelle Doona is assistant head teacher at Hendon School. Noelle is dedicated to incorporating topics, like “honour” based violence and FGM, which are not yet part of the national curriculum, into the students learning, so as to equip them with knowledge on their rights and safety. Noelle and Hendon School are passionate about ensuring that all students are aware of these issues, that their concerns are listened to and that they are given appropriate support. The School has been working in partnership with IKWRO to tackle “honour” based violence and confidence has grown in both staff and students. In spite of the challenges of the very full school timetable Noelle has worked tirelessly in setting up training sessions for all of her year groups on “honour” based violence, forced marriage and FGM, so far reaching 600 students.

Radlamah Canakiah

Radlamah Canakiah is the Violence Against Women and Girls Strategy Manager at Barnet Homes. Two years ago, she secured £100k (a further 100K was later secured) worth of DCLG funding to open a One Stop Shop where women can access support, advice and information from partner organisations. This including housing, police, health, legal services, as well as to run a women’s refuge, which is the only one of its kind in Barnet. Now, homeless women and families fleeing abuse who make approaches to the housing department are referred to the refuge rather than being isolated in temporary accommodation with little support. In the first year of the refuge opening, Barnet Homes was able to support 77% of victims/ survivors to move into suitable, safe long-term accommodation; through the One Stop Shop 244 cases were successfully supported over 48 sessions. In November 2017, the One Stop Shop and Refuge were shortlisted under the ‘Most Effective Project’ improving the lives of women or communities at the prestigious Women in Housing Awards (held in Manchester). Radlamah has not only brought many partners together, she has also ensured that women and children at risk have received lifesaving support.

Dr Phyllis Chesler

Phyllis Chesler, Ph.D, is a feminist, an Emerita Professor of Psychology and Women’s Studies at City University of New York. She is a best-selling author, a retired psychotherapist and an expert courtroom witness. She is the author of seventeen books, including ‘Women and Madness’ and ‘An American Bride in Kabul (2013)’, which won a National Jewish Book Award, and ‘Islamic Gender Apartheid: Exposing A Veiled War Against Women’ (2017). Dr. Chesler has published four studies and is working on a fifth, about “honour” based violence in Middle East Quarterly. She has testified for Muslim and ex-Muslim women who are seeking asylum or citizenship based on their credible belief that their families will them in the name of so called honour. 2018, she will publish a book about “honour” killings and a Memoir: A Politically Incorrect Feminist.

Dr Roba Al-Ghabra

Roba Al-Ghabra origionally trained as a doctor before turning to the law. She is a solicitor at Birnberg Peirce & Partners and an invaluable member of their immigration team. Roba works determinedly to ensure the best outcome for her clients. She is respected for her strategic and level-headed approach to the most complicated cases. She often works with clients made extremely vulnerable by their circumstances and has a specialist understanding of “honour” based violence. Her work has achieved huge life-changing impacts for the survivors she represents.

Sadia Sango Hussein

Sadia Sango Hussein is an anti-FGM Survivor Activist from Kenya. Having being cut herself at the age of 10, she is passionate about doing everything she can to ensure that no more girls are subjected to the abuse. Sadia is the Co-Ordinator of Dayaa, a women’s group of volunteers working in Tana River County Kenya to end FGM, as well as the connected harmful practice of child marriage and the associated issues of early pregnancy and curtailment of girls’ education. Sadia’s activism includes lots of outreach work within communities and one tactic she uses to encourage positive dialogue is the use of anti-FGM songs. She also engages young people in her work. She successfully encourages young men to spread the message “stop torturing our sisters” and to speak on radio talk shows to declare that they are ready to marry uncut women, challenging the notion that FGM is desired before marriage. Sadia is admired for her bravery, breaking the silence around FGM and child marriage and challenging taboos including speaking out in front of male community leaders. She has faced opposition from some who have said to her “why don’t you leave girls genitals alone?” Her response is “I tell them you should leave girls genitals alone!” On International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation the Anti-FGM Board Kenya presented Sadia with the Young Achievers Award.

Sophie Lott

For nearly seven years, Sophie has been the specialist caseworker within the government’s Forced Marriage Unit, leading and developing their processes for the most complex cases. Through this role, she has done a huge amount to take a stand against “honour” based violence. She has taken the lead role in assisting at least 500 victims/potential victims of forced marriage, FGM and other forms of “honour” based violence and has facilitated the rescue of over one hundred forced marriage victims trapped overseas. She assisted with the development of the legislation for the criminalisation of forced marriage and has delivered around 100 outreach events raising awareness of forced marriage and “honour” based violence, building the capability of professionals responsible for assisting survivors. Sophie has helped shape the direction of the Unit, built relationships with key partners, and has become a trusted and respected expert on forced marriage across government. Sophie regularly goes above and beyond to ensure victims get the help and support they require. She has forged strong relationships with those she helps, caring about their welfare on return to the UK, and ensuring that their futures are much brighter.

The True Honour Awards Judges selected four outstanding nominees as Winners of Awards of Special Recognition:

Winner of Special Recognition: Schools Ambassador for Ending “Honour” Based Violence

Lisa Hughes & Winchmore School

Lisa Hughes is the Head of Sixth Form at Winchmore School in the London Borough of Enfield.  She is passionate about ensuring young people are educated about their right not to face “honour” based violence, forced marriage or FGM and learn about the help that is available, should they be worried that they or their friends could be at risk. When approached by IKWRO to partner in delivering this education at Winchmore School, Lisa not only seized the opportunity, but worked hard to ensure that these issues are tackled at the forefront of the school’s curriculum. She also made sure that the school’s staff are trained to safeguard students from these abuses. As a result, hundreds of young people have been equipped with knowledge that will make them safer. Lisa didn’t stop there as she believes that every young person in this country has the right to be taught this crucial information, and to know that their school staff understand how to best protect and support them. To this end, Lisa, and Winchmore School, keenly took up the role of Schools Ambassador for IKWRO’s Right To Know campaign. In 2016, the school hosted the first ever National School’s Conference on Combatting “Honour” Based Violence organised by IKWRO, Youth For Change and Not in My Classroom. This ground-breaking conference brought together more than 100 representatives from all aspects of the education sector including teachers unions, teacher training providers, state schools, academies, school safeguarding police officers and NGO’s. Lisa jumped at the chance to take the cause to the Houses of Parliament where she spoke on a panel passionately advocating for the campaign, drawing on her rich school experience. Lisa made sure that young people were directly involved, bringing her students with her to ask questions to the politicians on whom they had a significant impact.

Winner of Special Recognition: International Commitment to Ending “Honour” Based Violence

Chief Superintendent Shahin Mehdizadeh

Shahin Mehdizadeh is Chief Superintendent, Eastern Alberta District Commander with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, with whom he has served for 29 years. In 2009, Shahin was called to assist the Kingston, Ontario police in a quadruple homicide investigation, the high profile Shafia “honour” killing case, which was reported on globally by the media. Four women had been murdered, three aged 18 and the accused were their father, mother and oldest brother. Shahin played a critical role in interrogating the mother, who provided much needed evidence placing all three of the accused at the crime scene. Shanin also worked with the Crown during the prosecution of this case and all accused were convicted of four counts of first degree murder. Following the trial, Shahin identified a gap in the level of understanding by police and other agencies about “honour” based violence and an urgent need to do something about it. Shahin joined a working group with the Department of Justice to create an online course on understanding “honour” based violence and forced marriage, which is available to all police officers across Canada and has been recognised by United Nations. He has presented extensively to law enforcement agencies and at universities in Canada and United States to raising awareness about “the issue. He works closely with many women’s groups in Canada to increase awareness about rights and support available and to connect community members and other stakeholders. He is regularly consulted for his expertise on “honour” based violence and is engaged by agencies to help relocate victims, provide investigative support and help Prosecutors better protect victims as well as assisted with research. Shahin gave evidence to the Canadian Parliament and has been instrumental in the creation of new legislation (Bill S-7) in Canada which makes Forced Marriage illegal and prevents offenders from using “honour” as a defence for their actions. Shahin ensures his work fighting “honour” based abuse is nuanced and rejects damaging generalisations about communities, instead involving communities to find solutions.

Winner of Special Recognition: Investigative Journalism on ”Honour” Based Violence

Hannah Summers

Hannah Summers is a highly successful investigative journalist. Previously working at The Sunday Times, she is now freelance and is regularly published in papers including The Guardian, The Times and The Independent. Hannah has done a huge amount to highlight the issue of “honour” based violence and has become an expert on the issue. Her work has largely revolved around examining, and where appropriate, challenging the response of the authorities to this often hidden crime. Her fearless reporting has exposed many institutional failings, which in turn has resulted in high level examination and review. In attempting to raise an awareness and understanding of “honour” crimes, she always places the voices of survivors at the heart of the story, while recognising the sensitivities and complexities presented by reporting on those communities most affected. She is well regarded by key “honour” based violence organisations and activists and at IKWRO’s 2016 European Conference for frontline professionals at Amnesty International, she spoke about tackling “honour” based violence through journalism. Some of the important stories she has written the following articles:


Winner of Special Recognition: Longstanding Commitment to Ending “Honour” Based Violence

Sarbjit Ganger

Sarbjit Ganger is Director of the Asian Women’s Resource Centre, a specialist women’s organisation based in the London Borough of Brent, providing holistic, independent, specialist and dedicated support services to Black, Minority, Ethnic, Refugee (BMER) women and children, experiencing abuse across London. Sarbjit is well known and highly respected in the women’s rights sector. She has over 20 years of experience of tackling Violence Against women and Girls and over these many years her passion and dedication has never waned. She is described as being as empathetic and understanding to women, and about the situation that they are going through, as though each woman is the first case that she has ever dealt with. Sarbjit has extensive experience in directly providing casework and advocacy support to women at risk of “honour” based violence. She has played a critical role in developing and leading specialist NGO partnerships to tackle harmful practices and for many years Sarbit has Chaired the Violence Against Women and Girls Forum of Brent. Her vision and determination in this role have resulted in key changes to the Council’s policies. She has also influenced progress in tackling “honour” based violence at a national level. Sarbjit has enabled thousands of women to receive vital support so that they can feel empowered and continue with their lives with their head held high in society.

Winner True Honour Award 2018

Police Constable Esther Carroll

Esther Carroll is a serving police Constable who for the past 12 years has specialised in safeguarding victims and survivors of forced marriage and “honour” based violence. She is widely respected by both professionals in the field and survivors alike. She is known for her outstanding commitment, wealth of expertise and passion to do everything possible to stand up for survivors and prevent these horrific abuses. Esther was instrumental in establishing the first forced marriage and “honour” based abuse unit within Bedfordshire Police, an area with a high prevalence of these crimes. Prior to the criminalisation of forced marriage in 2014, she worked with lawyers to obtain many Forced Marriage Protection Orders and since the law changed, she has personally led on presenting numerous cases on behalf of those at risk, for the police and in conjunction with social services. She also helps contest dangerous challenges to orders that would remove crucial protection for those who continue to be at risk. Esther has ensured that new recruits, the Force Control Room Call Handlers, response officers and specialist officers at Bedfordshire Police are trained in best practice to tackle these crimes and safeguard victims. Beyond the force, she raises awareness about these abuses and provides training to Social Services, Schools, Colleges, and the NHS, as well as working to ensure better understanding by Magistrates and courts.

Esther also works with NGO’s and is a valuable contributor to the Luton All Women’s Centre Steering group. At the national level, Esther brings her invaluable insight to her membership of the government’s Forced Marriage Unit Partnership Board. In 2014 Esther’s expertise was recognised when she was asked to share her knowledge with the then Prime Minister David Cameron at the Girl Summit. Esther’s insight has also attracted international attention. The Canadian Embassy invited her to share her learning with them, members of Canadian Government then shadowed her at work and she assisted in the development of Canadian Government forced marriage and “honour” based violence policy and procedures.  Esther has also shared her knowledge with officials from the USA, Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Indonesia and the Yemen. In December 2017 the government’s Forced Marriage Unit invited Esther to share her learning with the Council of Europe. Esther has received two Chief Constable Commendations for her work with victims and survivors of forced marriage and “honour” based violence.

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