The National Day of Memory
14th July is the National Day of Memory which remembers those who have been lost in the name of so called ‘honour’. 14th July 2019 would have been Shafilea Ahmed’s 33rd birthday. In 2003, she was murdered by her parents in front of her siblings for becoming too Westernised. An estimated 3,000 incidents of honour crime are reported each year but the true amount of those at risk is not known due to this being a hidden crime.
On the Day of Memory, our Patron, Nazir Afzal, discussed the issue of ‘honour’ in short video for Savera UK. He said:
“They had somehow brought shame to their family. The shame is on their family not on these people whose lives were taken so unnecessarily.”
#imspeakingout Public Event
On the 16th July, Savera shone a light on ‘honour’-based abuse and took to the streets to encourage the public to understand harmful practices and join us in the fight to eradicate them for good.
With the support of One Fell Swoop, Savera UK stationed themselves in middle of Liverpool City Centre to inform passers-by of the campaign to ‘speak out’ about ‘honour’-based abuse. The event was supported by Merseyside Police and the Merseyside Police and Crime Commissioner. The day began with a minute’s silence led by Savera UK Board Member Aislinn O’Dwyer for those who lost their lives in the name of so called ‘honour’ and also a reading of Shafliea Ahmed’s poem ‘Happy Families’ by one of the Savera UK Youth Advisory Board members.
This was followed by speeches from Councillor Maria Toolan, Detective Superintendent, Dave McCaughrean from Merseyside Police and Afrah Qassim, Founder of Savera UK. Crowds formed to listen to the subjects that Savera UK brought to light. Kiara Mohamed’s poem ‘Hurt Women’ brought home to those listening that harmful cultural traditions are passed down through generations, families and communities and that we must break the cycle to enforce change.
Savera UK recruited groups of young people, volunteers and Savera UK clients who felt it was important to take part and speak out. They worked with artist and performer Joanne Tremarco to develop a special performance titled Break the Silence. This was a powerful display of how ‘honour’ can force those at risk to feel trapped and unable to have a voice. It showed that everyone has a responsibility to speak out about ‘honour’-based abuse, forced marriage, female genital mutilation and other harmful traditional practices in order to eradicate them for future generations.
The rest of the day included performances from Movema with audience engagement and a dance performance by Maxine Brown. There were stalls by local organisations RASA and WHISC. These presentations encouraged the public to come and speak to the Savera UK team and ask questions. The public became allies of the cause and pledged to either volunteer to support those affected, talk to five people about ‘honour’-based abuse, raise awareness or to just find out a little more about the topics Savera UK work with.
In partnership with Merseyside Police, Savera UK attended Liverpool John Lennon Airport the following day (17th July). Along with stalls and informing the public, there were several more performances of Break the Silence which again drew in the crowds and encouraged conversation about harmful practices. Police were stationed at airports across the country as part of Operation Limelight to educate airport and airline staff about forced marriage and female genital mutilation. The summer holidays are the most common time for those at risk to be taken abroad for these practices. Being at the airport also raised awareness to the public in the airport about these issues and again empowered them to speak out and think about taboo subjects.
Detective Superintendent David McCaughrean, from Merseyside Police, said:
“By working with Savera UK, we aim to raise awareness of ‘honour’-based abuse in the wider public, whilst empowering victims to speak to us, knowing that our dedicated officers can and will support them and bring offenders to justice. Both events, on the 16th July in Liverpool and 17th July at the airport, are just a flavour of our ongoing partnership with Savera UK and we hope as many people as possible are able to come along and talk to us. The more we raise awareness, the easier it is to spot the signs and help vulnerable people who may be too frightened to reach out to us themselves.”
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