In 2015, IKWRO opened the UK’s first refuge for Middle Eastern, North African and Afghan women. The refuge provides safe accommodation and specialist support to single women at risk of “honour” based violence, forced marriage, FGM and domestic abuse.
Women in the refuge receive specialist support from IKWRO’s expert teams, who speak six different languages, providing advice, advocacy, counselling and training.
In 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 or further abuse.
The impact of the cuts has been particularly devastating for minority women and many specialist services and refuges have been forced to close down. Women with limited English have been turned away from cash strapped refuges that have prioritised women who won’t need an interpreter.
In other cases, some mainstream refuges have underestimated the level and nature of the risks related to “honour” based violence or forced marriage, which can endanger 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. We help empower them to restart and build new independent lives free from any form of violence.