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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.

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