At IKWRO we are and have always been committed to ending injustice in all forms. The murder of George Floyd by four police officers in the US has sparked a global movement against institutional racism. In a moment of reckoning across society, each and every one of us is being called upon to reflect on our role in reinforcing inequalities that all too often lead to fatal violence against Black men, women and children. While such reflection is necessary and long-overdue, we must ask ourselves, how many Black lives will it take for us to take real action to dismantle the racist social structures that allow these incidents to persist?
Black and minoritised women especially bear the brunt of systemic racism, and the evidence is well-documented:
- Black women are five times more likely to die in childbirth than white women1
- Black girls are twice as likely to be excluded from school than white girls2
- Black patients are 40% less likely to medication needed for acute pain relief3
- Six in 10 domestic abuse victims who accessed housing after leaving shelters for those fleeing abusive partners are from a BAME background4
- Black women are less likely to report domestic abuse for fear of deportation5
- BAME and migrant women experience higher rates of domestic homicide6
As an organisation dedicated to defending the rights of BAME and migrant women, these statistics come as no shock, and constitute a public health emergency. The Covid-19 crisis has also exposed serious health inequalities that existed long before its onset, with Black and Asian people twice as likely to die from the virus compared to the white population. Similar disparities exist in service provision across multiple sectors involved in responses to violence against women and girls (VAWG).7
Urgent action is needed to strengthen specialist support services for individuals affected by harmful practices such as forced and child marriage, FGM, and breast ironing (among others) particularly in prosecution, policing8 and social work9. This must begin with an acknowledgement within these services of the lack of cultural competency that too often lets those at-risk slip through the net. Multilingual service provision, an end to ‘No Recourse to Public Funds’, appropriately contextualised diversity and inclusion training with Board level buy-in, increased specialist BAME refuge space, improved data recording of incidents relating to ‘honour’ based abuse – these are just a few measures desperately needed to protect the most vulnerable in our society, and those most impacted by racial inequality.
Finally, we acknowledge that much work needs to be done by non-Black people of colour to address anti-Blackness in our own communities. Racism is at times a driving factor behind forced and child marriage for example, particularly when an individual at risk expresses a desire for a romantic relationship with someone outside of an ‘accepted’ ethnicity. Colourism and caste privilege also need to be addressed.
We will take active steps to operate as anti-racist by ensuring no racial inequality or hierarchy is alive in our organisation.
We hold ourselves internally and publicly accountable by removing any barriers that may keep victims or employees from being treated equally, and ensuring their voices are heard, valued and recognised accordingly.
We stand in solidarity with Black communities against racism and commit to playing our part in ending racial inequality.