14th July National Memorial Day Conference
By Shauna at Savera UK
14th July 2017 would have been Shafilea Ahmed's 31st birthday. In 2003 she was murdered by her parents in front of her siblings for becoming too Westernised. An estimated 5,000 women across the world are killed each year for bringing shame to their families; at least 12 of these are British. On 14th July we remembered all those who were murdered in the name of so-called 'honour' on the annual National Memorial Day.
Savera UK held a conference in partnership with Wirral Connect and MSB Solicitors to remember the victims and to raise awareness to ensure that services understand issues surrounding Honour Based Abuse.
The Savera UK founder Afrah Qassim has been fighting for change in this taboo subject, "Savera UK is committed to change and by challenging the status quo, we seek to give voices to those who are silenced by so called 'honour' based violence. We have already broken down a lot of barriers in our local communities and we want to give more people a way out and make sure that cases, such as what happened to Shafilea Ahmed and Banaz Mahmod (who are both victims of 'honour' killings) can never happen again."
We had many speakers who outlined the importance of Savera UK's work and working together with different agencies across the Merseyside and Cheshire in order to address these taboo subjects. Guest speaker and Savera UK's patron Nazir Afzal told the audience his experiences with honour based cases that were heart wrenching. He maintained that with these situations "education is key."
Nazir has stated," Savera means new beginnings and the people Savera helps know exactly what that means. They are rescued from hopeless and desperate abusive relationships, or from families who are determined to harm them through forced marriage or FGM, and given hope, help and a home. These victims and survivors are the least likely in the UK to seek help because of issues such as honour and culture."
As well as discussing these issues from the viewpoint of professionals, Congolese Creative Artist Dorcas Sebuyange created a profound spoken word poem that she performed to the crowd that pulled together these issues.
We must always remember these victims and that cultural acceptance does not mean accepting the unacceptable.
Before her untimely death, Shafilea Ahmed penned her concerns and feelings towards her culture. This profound piece of writing shows her yearning for freedom.
'Happy Families' by Shafilea Ahmed
I don't pretend like we're the perfect family no more
Desire to live is burning
My stomach is turning
But all they think about is honour
I was like a normal teenage kid
Didn't ask 2 much
I jus wanted to fit in
But my culture was different
Now I'm sitting here
Playing happy families
Still crying tears
But no we're a happy family
I have these fears
I wish, I wish, I wish
For a happy family - oh yeah
I lay in bed hoping the next day would be better
It was just a thought
Because it never happened no
But still I dream of this today yeah hey
I wish my parents would be proud of wot I done
Instead it's you've have bought shame
Or something else lame I don't wanna hear this no more
No no no. I feel trapped
I feel trapped, so stuck I don't wot 2 do the feeling is mutual, I don't know how to explain
Im a trapped so trapped (so trapped )
Now u know where I stand, when I fall back I got no where else to land
I don't know how to say
I'm trapped so trapped I'm trapped wit u.
It was my last year in school, so happy with my friends I got lots to -
But came this day when everything changed
I came home it seemed like a normal day
But sumthing wasn't right
I wish I coulda changed the event
I shoulda killed myself instead
I'd rather have been dead
Coz now I have a burden on my chest
And no it won't go away, the guilt, the pain
When I look back on things I coulda changed coulda stop, prevented, exchanged
But i had to turn out this way (so trapped)
Now I'm sitting on my window bay
Looking at the rain
Drowning sorrow and pain
Will this ever go away
I feel trapped so trapped, I'm trapped I'm trapped, so trapped I'm trapped
(I don't know wot do) I feel trapped.
But my family ignored.