Today, Wednesday 12th August 2015, is the United Nations’ designated International Youth Day. This year’s theme is youth civic engagement and IKWRO is celebrating the inspiring young people that we are working with as agents of change to tackle “honour” based violence, forced marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM).

Since IKWRO was founded, 13 years ago, we’ve made huge progress in raising awareness about “honour” based violence, forced marriage, child marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM). We’ve played a leading role in ensuring these issues are high on the government’s agenda: we were at the forefront of the successful campaign to criminalise forced marriage and our experienced, specialist advice and counselling teams have safeguarded and supported literally tens of thousands of women and girls at risk.

But there’s a gaping hole in the achievements of the UK’s movement to end “honour” based violence, forced marriage, child marriage and FGM, which means that the progress that should be made, is being held back.

The golden opportunity to reach young people, who are often at the most at risk, has been left out of the equation by successive governments. As every young person must attend school for a significant chunk of their life, it’s clear that schools are the best place to reach every young person with information that saves lives. Yet, as it’s not compulsory, it’s a lottery as to whether a young person is taught their right not to face “honour” based violence, forced marriage or FGM, or where they can go for help should they or their friends be at risk and there’s even no guarantee that their school staff will have received training to understand these forms of abuse, or know what to do to ensure their students are kept safe.

This has to change. Young people’s safety must not be left to chance.

This is why IKWRO has established the Right To Know campaign which demands that the government steps us to ensure:

  • All schools embed the prevention of “honour” based violence, forced marriage and FGM into their safeguarding procedures, which must be monitored by Ofsted.
  • All school staff are trained to understand and spot the signs of “honour” based violence, forced marriage and FGM and to know what to do if any student could be at risk.
  • Every student is educated that they have the right not to face “honour” based violence, forced marriage or FGM and where support is available for them and for anyone who they are concerned may be at risk.

IKWRO knows from our extensive work with Survivors and in schools, that young people are crying out for information that will keep them safe from “honour” based violence, forced marriage and FGM and they want have confidence that their schools are equipped to keep them safe. But all to often the voices of those most affected, young people, are not considered.

That’s why this summer we’ve teamed our Right To Know campaign up with young people, to make sure their voices are heard. We’re inspired by the energy, passion and innovation that these young people are bringing to the campaign and can’t wait to share the results.

Follow us on facebook and twitter @IKWRO with our hashtag #RightToKnow and watch this space for online action, photos, film and flash mobs!

Together we can end “honour” based violence, forced marriage and FGM.

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