Author: Shauna

Debbie with Savera UK team members Chelsea, Lauren and Jenny

Student Spotlight: Debbie, International Public Health Student

As our regular ‘Student Spotlights’ show, we often welcome student placements into our support team to learn about what we do and how we operate. However, this month Savera UK welcomed Liverpool John Moores University student Debbie into our communications and outreach team.

Debbie aimed to bring “a can-do attitude, an extra hand and some ideas” to the charity during her time with us, and she certainly achieved this.

During her placement, Debbie supported us in raising awareness of ‘honour’-based abuse and harmful practices through research, blog writing, content creation and even attending in-person outreach events.

In our interview, we find out more about Debbie, what she expected from her placement and what she learned from her time at Savera UK.

Thank you Debbie for all your support, we loved having you with us!

Debbie with Savera UK team members Chelsea, Lauren and Jenny
Debbie with Savera UK team members Chelsea, Lauren and Jenny

First of all, Debbie, tell us a bit about yourself.

I am from Malaysia, and  I am currently studying a MSc International Public Health at Liverpool John Moores University. I chose this course because I was beginning to see firsthand the opportunities and challenges in public health across different cultures and countries. That drove me to learn and be equipped on how to make a change. So when the door opened for me to study abroad, the stars aligned!

Away from my studies, I’m drawn to art in its various forms, from digital illustrations to batik prints. I also have a small postcard collection featuring watercolour paintings and hand-drawn art from my talented, artsy friends!

Why did you choose Savera UK for placement and what did you come hoping to learn?

Savera UK stood out to me as a charity that was passionately sincere, skillful, creative and brave in championing a cause that is often considered a taboo. Importantly, ‘honour’-based abuse (HBA) crosses the intersections of gender equality, human rights, violence and criminal justice, an interplay which relates closely with my dissertation. This placement gave me the opportunity to see and experience the nuts and bolts of the fight towards and the possibility of change.

In addition to growing my knowledge of HBA, I was looking forward to develop my confidence to speak up about HBA in person and on social media. I was also keen to learn how to create spaces for survivors to be heard in creative yet safe ways (like Samia’s Story in the Savera UK 2020/21 Impact Report).

I was also interested  to hear from the support team about their experiences in supporting those at risk of HBA and to better understand how communications integrate with fundraising and partnership development in a charity setting.

What did you get involved with during your placement?

I was involved in learning from and assisting Nikki and Lauren from the communications team. This included researching organisations, professionals and potential partners involved with HBA here in the UK, creating social media posts and writing a blog post about how Savera UK’s one-to-one support team addresses the mental health of clients. My placement also coincided with the Mental Health Awareness Week which was brilliant, as I had the opportunity to join Lauren to host a stall at the LCR Combined Authority Mental Health and Work Summit. Additionally, I also got to sit in on weekly communications meetings and the monthly staff meeting which I found really insightful!

What surprised you about the role?

I must say that I was blown away by how much goes on just within the comms team, evident from the weekly communications meetings. For my specific role, Chelsea provided me with an overview of what to expect prior to the placement and both Lauren and Nikki also briefed me well at the start of my placement. These were really helpful in giving me an understanding of what Savera UK does and the role of the comms team.

What did you enjoy most about the role and did the placement meet your expectations?

I thoroughly enjoyed being immersed in the day-to-day activities of the comms team, learning on the job and interacting with the rest of the team. My placement with Savera UK exceeded my expectations! Not only did I learn more about HBA, I also got to gain insights into what the one-to-one support team does and experienced firsthand the integral role of communications within the organisation. I also found the on-going training, support and feedback I received from both Lauren and Nikki throughout my placement really helpful and valuable.

What was your most important learning from your placement?

It’s been an absolute privilege to be immersed and gain insights into the macro and micro view of how a charity runs. I observed how when everyone is clear of and committed to the why, they are driven with the what and the how. I also appreciated the opportunity to listen in and experience the intersecting role communication plays, from creating awareness, data and analytics to partnership development and funding applications. That has been my most important learning.

What was the most memorable thing that you did during your placement?

The most memorable would be the conversation with Bea from the one-to-one support team. That helped me in two ways, firstly, to understand the support team’s role better and then learning how to communicate that to a wider audience to create awareness, be it through a blog post or in-person at the Mental Health and Work Summit.

Based on your experience working with Savera UK, what do you think are the biggest challenges facing organisations supporting survivors and those at risk of harmful practices?

I think that scaling up and funding this important work and creating more awareness of these hidden practices are perhaps the biggest challenges. Supporting survivors and those at risk of harmful practices remains a crucial need, as does engaging with the ecosystem of people and partners, from the public to schools and the media.

What are your future plans? 

I’m working towards completing my course in International Public Health at LJMU by the end of August this year. I hope to work with a non-profit organisation involved in improving the lives of women and girls at risk, including refugee and migrant women, when I return to Malaysia.

How will you use your practical experience with Savera UK going forward?

Having learnt about how gender inequality, violation of human rights and violence intersect in my course, working at Savera UK allowed me to experience how theory translates into practice and how change is possible. I am now more confident of speaking up about HBA and harmful cultural practices. Additionally, I am looking forward to apply what I have learnt from the comms team, including planning, forward thinking, collaboration as well as communicating sensitive stories creatively and safely, in my future role. Thank you, Savera UK for such a rich and meaningful experience!

Savera UK Founder and CEO, Afrah Qassim

Savera UK Founder and CEO finalist for Merseyside Women of the Year Awards 2022

Savera UK Founder and CEO, Afrah Qassim
Savera UK Founder and CEO, Afrah Qassim

Savera UK Founder and CEO, Afrah Qassim, has been announced as a finalist for Merseyside Women of the Year Awards 2022.

Afrah was previously awarded ‘Humanitarian of the Year’ at the 2012 Merseyside Women of the Year Awards, when her work for establishing the Savera UK service in Merseyside was acknowledged. Thanks to her continued hard work alongside the dedicated Savera UK team, she has again received recognition, this time for extending the service to include a one-to-one support service in Merseyside and Cheshire and a national helpline.

Afrah is among eighteen courageous and inspirational women who have been acknowledged for making a difference in the region.

Afrah said: “I am so thankful to everyone who has supported us, past and present, in getting to this point, especially our committed team who are equally as driven and passionate to end ‘honour’-based abuse and harmful practices as I am.

“None of this work would be possible without them, and their continued support in tackling these issues.

“Thank you to the judges of Merseyside Women of the Year Awards for making me a finalist, and to my nominator. Having this work acknowledged helps remind me of the important reason I do it.”

The overall Merseyside Woman of the Year 2022 will be selected from all finalists, following a public vote (contributing 50% of the overall score) and being marked by the organisation’s judging panel against its criteria, contributing the remaining 50% of the final score.

You can vote for Afrah here until Friday, 10th June 2022: https://merseysidewomenoftheyear.co.uk/finalists-2022/

Supporting Survivors’ Mental Health as Savera UK

The Savera UK Support Team

Following Mental Health Awareness Week, Savera UK is shining a light on the impact that ‘honour’-based abuse (HBA) has on the mental health of our clients and how our one-to-one support team offers them hope and practical help.

Support Team Manager Bea explains what a day in the life of the team looks like, how they support clients to navigate the mental health challenges they face as a result of HBA and how the team makes mental wellbeing a priority.

“When a phone call comes in through our national helpline, the individual is usually at high risk and it is then our role to deescalate their risk,” Bea explains. “Referrals may also come in through schools, hospitals or social services. Our first concern is their safety and if they need to be moved immediately from a dangerous or unsafe environment. So, we conduct a risk assessment and work alongside other professionals to create a safety plan for them,” she adds. “We always follow the One Chance Rule. We believe that there might be only one chance to speak to the potential person at risk or survivors, and therefore, just one chance to save a life,” she emphasises.

Those at risk of HBA will always fear for their safety, especially where their families hold extreme beliefs about these practices and are supported by some members of the wider community. Even if a client has escaped their abusive environment, families and community members will go to great lengths to try and find them. Navigating HBA means that working in a partnership with other professionals, such as the local authorities, social workers, social support, domestic abuse services and child protection services, remains crucially important.

Trauma and shame

From a mental health perspective, the team has observed how clients often struggle with trauma and shame from the various forms of abuse they have endured. Bea shares: “Some of our clients have neutralised the trauma they have experienced and accepted it as part of their culture so that they become functional in their daily living.” Others may demonstrate disassociation when they are not ready to face reality and withdraw due to fear of the repercussions of disclosure. This in turn, affects them psychologically. In addition, our clients, who are mostly women, often face the continual feeling of being disempowered due to the hierarchical nature in their family’s culture and beliefs, where the father or husband must be honoured, and end up becoming like servants to their patriarchal figures. Taken together, this may explain why some clients struggle with suicidal feelings.

Bea shares: “Many of our clients come in feeling fearful and so, we seek to create a safe space for them to relax and talk. That said, it does take time to build trust, usually two to three sessions before they start to open up. Our work is always client-led, so it depends on what they are most comfortable doing and when, that way, we don’t impose anything on them. Empathy, understanding and patience are so vital, irrespective of culture.”

Ready to advocate

There are times when a client has had their situation downplayed by other parties, prior to coming to Savera UK. So, when they do come in contact with the one-to-one Support Team, Bea and the team are quick to assure the clients that they are ready to advocate on their behalf wherever it is needed, for example ensuring they are receiving the right financial support or safety measures, accompanying them to GP appointments or meetings with immigration.

Savera UK clients are always central to the support team’s work. They ensure that they offer clients their full attention and always demonstrate that ‘I stand by you’ and ‘I believe in you’. “We do this to provide the support and validation our client needs, to empower them and give them the courage they need to speak up,” Bea explains passionately.

Reducing social isolation

Savera UK also provides weekly drop-in activities and programmes to reduce the social isolation clients face. Past sessions have included “Embodied Healing” to manage trauma and activities such as kickboxing, cricket and a clothing bazaar. The team also signposts and liaises with various agencies to provide necessary support for clients. This ranges from refuges, social services, legal services to therapy and counselling services.

“We work with services and professionals who are trained in trauma-informed practices to help our clients in their journey. ,” Bea explains. Even so, she acknowledges that there are times when the client may decide to return to their perpetrator, and sadly, the trauma circle and cycle of abuse continues. “Our role then, is to continue to be available to them. As such, there is no start and end point; our cases are never closed and remain fluid for each client.”

Improvements in mental health

When asked to share about an improvement in mental health that Bea has observed in a client, she immediately mentions a client who – after three months in communication – told her: “It was because of you that I can now do this.”

“I always believe that it only takes one person to believe in you for you to feel empowered,” Bea adds. “That is what someone did for me and I want to continue pour belief into other women as well, be it my team or our clients.”

With all that the one-to-one support team does, Bea recognises that wellbeing at the workplace is incredibly vital so that the team can continue to give their best to support Savera UK’s clients. As such, to support the team’s own mental health and wellbeing, every support worker has monthly access to clinical support, weekly check-ins, they are encouraged to take regular breaks and can look forward to a therapy room that will be made available to both support workers and clients in the near future.

“I take pride in my team and what we are doing. We are committed to change the narrative of our clients and stand up against culturally specific abuse and violence,” Bea says. “For me, every life impacted, and every person empowered is a success. My dream is that one day, one of our clients will be the next Bea or HBA support worker, because they have the lived experience and that will be so powerful!”

If you or someone you know is at risk of HBA or harmful practices, or if you need advice on these issues, you can get help here.

You can call the Savera UK national helpline on 0800 107 0726 (operates weekdays between 9am-5pm).

Interview conducted and blog written by Savera UK placement student, Debbie

Get Involved: Setting the Story Straight – HBA and Media

Working with survivors of and individuals/communities affected by ‘honour’-based abuse (HBA) and harmful practices, Savera UK often encounters a lack of understanding or the perpetuation of unhelpful myths and stereotypes that means harmful cultural traditions such as HBA, female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage remain hidden or misunderstood.

We also frequently see these myths and stereotypes reflected in the media. Media – whether television, radio, print or digital – has the power to shape opinions and ideas. It can influence our opinions on issues, the way we see different communities and how we see ourselves.

If accurate awareness around harmful practices is to be raised and they are to be challenged, representation is vital as it can break down barriers, dispel myths, create role models and even inspire.

Savera UK is currently working on a project, supported by Lloyds Bank Foundation, to explore representation of harmful practices such as HBA, FGM and forced marriage in the UK media, and how journalists interact with survivors, affected communities and the professionals that work with them.

Through a set of surveys and an online event, we aim to create a set of media guidelines, ​informed by the experiences of survivors, ​to help journalists work better with professionals and survivors, to end the perpetuation of harmful stereotypes and improve representation.

We are currently seeking the thoughts, experiences and opinions of survivors, members of affected communities and professionals who work in this space, to help inform these guidelines. To participate, please click the relevant link below:

For survivors or members of affected communities: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/SUK_Survey_Survivors

For professionals: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/SUK_Survey_Professionals

The deadline to respond is by 5pm on Monday 23rd May.

If you would also like to register interest in attending our free webinar: Setting the Story Straight: Challenging and informing media representation of ‘honour’-based abuse and harmful practices click here.

Payzee Mahmod Savera UK Ambassador

Savera UK celebrates introduction of new law banning child marriage

Payzee Mahmod Savera UK Ambassador

Savera UK welcomes the news that the minimum age of marriage will be raised from 16 to 18 in England and Wales.

The Marriage and Civil Partnership (Minimum Age) Bill, introduced to UK Parliament by MP Pauline Latham OBE, has passed through Parliament and today received Royal Assent, meaning it has become law.

Savera UK ambassador and forced marriage survivor, Payzee Mahmod, has been instrumental in bringing the law to Parliament by tirelessly campaigning alongside organisations including IKWRO.

Payzee’s sister, Banaz, was forced into marriage when she was aged 16. Banaz was the victim of an ‘honour’-killing after ending the violent and abusive marriage.

Ahead of the Bill passing its third reading, Payzee wrote: “Struggling to put in to words what this means. I feel so many emotions. This is real life change.

“This is for me, for Banaz, for any child impacted by child marriage.

“Today tears of joy roll down my face because I know what this means for girls like me.”

Under the new law children will not be penalised, but adults found to be facilitating the marriage could face up to a seven year jail sentence and a fine.

The law will also apply to marriages which are not registered with the local council.

Savera UK CEO, Afrah Qassim, said: “We cannot thank our incredible ambassador Payzee enough for her tireless efforts to see this Bill brought to Parliament.

“This law has the potential to change the lives of thousands of girls for the better and it’s encouraging to see the impact one campaign can have on an entire country.

“At Savera UK, we continue to provide support for those at risk of, and survivors of, forced and child marriage, so this law will have a very real impact on our work.

“We continue to encourage young girls to talk to someone if they fear they are at risk of forced marriage.”

If you are affected by forced marriage, ‘honour’-based abuse or other harmful practices, you can call the Savera UK helpline on 0800 107 0726 (weekdays 9am – 5pm).

‘Embodied Healing’ helps Savera UK clients manage trauma

Over the last three weeks Savera UK clients have been taking part in sessions on ‘Embodied Healing’. The sessions have been delivered by one of our student placements, Aleesha, who is studying a masters in psychotherapy.

‘Embodied Healing’ incorporates a number of techniques, including guided meditation and breathing exercises, to help alleviate the physical impact trauma can have on the body. Aleesha said: “When people experience trauma it’s really held in the body and their nervous system is at the whim of that response. The specific breathing techniques I’m teaching are a type of trauma release and that’s a type of therapy as well.”

The sessions take part in six separate sessions, and involve clients focusing on different breathing techniques. Aleesha practiced with the clients the ‘box technique’ and ‘pranayama’, which she explains are ayurvedic, meaning originating from Indian medicine. She said: “I’m teaching very specific breathing that activates the vagus nerve.”

In the most recent session, Savera UK clients were invited to visualise and draw their version of a safe space. Aleesha said: “We’re building a sense of safe-space imagery so by the end of the programme they have a very easy image to go to in their minds that is sensorial.

“The overall objective is to teach a few skills they can use, provide tools for their tool belt that will allow them to care for and advocate for themselves.”

She said: “[Last week] we did a trauma therapy activity, where people were in pairs and I said ‘show your person a movement that shows how you’re feeling’. One did a position like they were sleeping. I then asked ‘have your partner show us how you feel’. One woman said: ‘I’m realising that when I’m looking I see sleepiness, for her it might mean sadness or exasperation. It shows me it takes time to listen to someone.’”

Aleesha, from Singapore, recently moved to the UK to study for her masters degree, having worked with trauma victims in different settings for two years. Most recently she worked on trauma-informed workshops for survivors.

As well as leading trauma workshops and sessions, Aleesha has undertaken research and helped inform policy, contributing to Singapore’s first ever gender equality review. She said: “I was a researcher for sexual violence across institutes in Higher Education. On the ground work is very important to me but I’m conscious it needs to be both [policy and frontline work].”

Aleesha said her background in policy work means she is “constantly adapting” and “recognising that needs could be assumed, but it’s really dependent on the person”.

Discussing her student placement, Aleesha said she knew it was the “perfect” organisation for her to be involved with. She said: “I used to work with marginalised communities, victims of sexual violence and women of colour and this [placement at Savera UK] gave me the opportunity to do both.”

Aleesha explained she has continued to adapt the sessions based on the response from clients. She said: “I feel like this was the best session.”

She added: “Merfat [a Savera UK support worker] is the best human, she’s so, so supportive. She has really let me take my time and make mistakes. I’m just learning sometimes the simple things have a lot of value.”

Speaking about the clients, Aleesha said: “I have seen the way they hold each other, speak to each other. Women of colour, they bond together. It has been very beautiful to just be around it.”

Student Spotlight: Taylor and Jackie, Social Work Students

Savera UK regularly welcomes student placements so they can learn about what we do, how our team operates and the work involved in advocating for those at risk of ‘honour’-based abuse and other harmful practices.

This year we welcomed Taylor and Jackie to the team, who both began social work placements. Taylor is already half-way through her placement while Jackie has only recently joined. We’re delighted to have you both on board and wish you the best of luck with your placements.

Taylor and Jackie share with us the reasons behind choosing to study social work (and children’s nursing, in Taylor’s case) and tell us a little bit about themselves.

Tell us about yourself!

Jackie: I’m originally from a small village in between Sheffield and Chesterfield (it’s a lot easier to say from near Sheffield though!). As well as studying my Masters, I also work in Domiciliary Care and love it! I enjoy the football too and work at Anfield and Goodison on match days as well as going to watch it.

I love animals and my favourite animals are pandas. I have a big collection of them and it seems to be getting bigger by the week. I’m very outdoorsy and love going to new places and travelling. I have a passion for doing charity work and raising money for different charities and organisations. Before the pandemic, I did a sponsored skydive for Western Park Cancer Charity and raised over £1,000. I’m hoping to be able to join more charities like this now Covid has settled down and jump out of my comfort zone some more.

Taylor: I’m a 23-year-old student, I love music. I love going to music concerts and being in that atmosphere. I have a big family so I enjoy doing activities with them such as bowling, the cinema and fun days out.

Why did you choose to study your course?

Jackie: I never knew what to do and what I wanted to study to be honest. I studied Drama and Special Educational Needs for my undergraduate degree which stemmed from studying Drama, English Literature and Philosophy and Ethics at A-Level where I wanted to be a Dramatherapist.

However, looking after my dad when he became terminally ill had a big influence on what I wanted to do. After reading up on social work and having the chance to be an influencing factor in making a change in people’s lives, I knew that was the thing I felt was missing in deciding what I wanted to do which is why I chose to study my course.

Taylor: I did hairdressing after I left school. After two years I decided I wanted to do something different, so I decided I wanted to be a Nurse. I was accepted on a course which allowed me to explore both professions of a nurse and a social worker. With this [Savera UK] being my first social work placement, I have really enjoyed seeing the role of a Social worker in action. My course will allow me to gain a career where I am able to work as an integrated professional and help individuals holistically.

What will your role be at Savera UK?

Jackie: My role at Savera UK as a student on placement will essentially be getting involved in what the support team do, including making referrals, attending meetings, providing support to clients and observing the team’s day-to-day work.

What are you looking forward to the most?

Jackie: I’m looking most forward to getting stuck in and being able to apply what we’ve been taught in university into practice. I’m looking forward to seeing how things operate and how to look at cases and work on and with them.

What do you hope to bring to the team during your placement?

Jackie: During my placement, I hope to bring my energy and personality to the team as well as some of my thoughts and input on things.

Taylor, how are you finding your placement at Savera UK now you are half-way through?

Taylor: I am glad that I got a placement as amazing at this, the staff at the organisation are phenomenal at their jobs. This given me an opportunity to learn about ‘honour’-based abuse (HBA) and harmful practices. Speaking to my peers and seeing professionals working alongside Savera UK it’s clear not everyone is aware of HBA.

Before beginning your placement, what did you hope to learn?

Taylor: I like learning new things and developing my knowledge which is what I hoped to get from Savera UK. I have learnt so much already only being half way through my placement. I like to believe I am a quick learner when I have been shown what to do, which I hoped would help me during my time here. I didn’t have an expectation of what I was going to learn as I wasn’t aware of the work Savera UK did but I am pleased to say I have learnt so much.

What have you learnt already?

Taylor: While being at Savera UK I have been able to participate or complete a number of tasks and undertake training sessions which have developed my skills and knowledge about culture, sexual abuse and children’s sexual exploitation. I have referred clients for different types of support such as completing MARACs and referring clients to councillors. I have written supporting letters for clients to support asylum or to continue their studies. I have also been able to see professional strategy meetings and uploaded client information from police and other professional referrals.

What do you hope to learn as you continue your placement?

Jackie: I’m hoping to develop my skills as a social worker and increase my knowledge on things that I may not be too sure about.

Taylor: I feel this placement will allow me to spot signs of HBA and harmful practices while I get further in my career and educate others on my knowledge around HBA.

Thank you Jackie and Taylor! We’re so pleased to have you both as part of the Savera UK team.

International Women’s Day 2022: Help #BreakTheBias with Savera UK

Today (Tuesday 8th March 2022) is International Women’s Day and this year’s theme, #BreakTheBias, calls on people globally to strive for a “gender equal world” that is “free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination” and where “difference is valued and celebrated”.

This year’s theme resonates closely with Savera UK’s organisational mission. We are a leading charity tackling culturally-specific abuse such as ‘honour’-based abuse (HBA) and other harmful pratices such as female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage. All of these issues are rooted in societies based on patriarchal ideologies and at their heart lies gender inequality.

Although anyone can be at risk of harmful practices – and Savera UK supports survivors of all genders – it is important to highlight on International Women’s Day the majority of people that we support are women. Those at risk of harmful practices face bias and discrimination in their own homes and communities and even in finding and accessing services, due to a lack of understanding around culturally-specific abuse, which often means the signs can be missed.

This International Women’s Day, the team at Savera UK pledges to continue to #BreakTheBias by raising awareness of the issues, challenging harmful stereotypes around these issues and supporting and advocating for survivors and those at risk of harmful practices.

We still have a long way to go to tackle gender inequality and as long as gender inequality exists, so too will gender-based violence and abuse. If we work together to eradicate this, more women will be free to exercise their human rights, and have the opportunity to thrive and achieve their full potential.

For more information on International Women’s Day visit: https://www.internationalwomensday.com/

To find out how you can get involved in Savera UK’s work, visit: https://www.saverauk.co.uk/what-can-you-do/get-involved/ 

Savera UK Youth #ENDFGM Exhibition 2022

Savera UK Youth exhibition calls for end to female genital mutilation (FGM)

Savera UK Youth #ENDFGM Exhibition 2022

An exhibition of multimedia artworks created by a group of young people campaigning to eradicate the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM), has opened in Liverpool to mark the International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM (6th February).

Savera UK Youth created artwork and photography to commemorate the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), which was first launched at a conference in London held by the National FGM Centre. After speaking with survivors of female genital mutilation and learning more about the practice from Savera UK, the young people then worked with artist Joanne Tremarco and photographer Andrew ‘AB’ Abrahamson to learn valuable image-making and photography skills through a series of workshops.

In these workshops the young people learned how to translate what they had heard into powerful imagery, through sessions with Joanne making collage, assemblage and animation. Then, using the practical skills and knowledge about the rules of photography shared by AB, they took disposable cameras away to interpret their understanding of FGM through photography.  These photographs, which can be seen on display as a stand alone series, approach the subject matter from a more abstract and emotional point of view,  informing the staged SLR photographs that carry a more explicit #EndFGM message.

Following further workshops with artist Joanne and survivor Kiara Mohamed, who is a poet, the young people created poems, song and text related to FGM, in response to what they had learned from the survivor stories and from Savera UK. The young people also learned important skills about showcasing their work, such as how to hang an exhibition and how to write about their artwork to communicate its meaning as well as skills in performance and presentation.

The works seek to educate people about FGM and challenge harmful traditions that violate human rights, while separating it from culture and religious practice, with which is it often wrongly conflated.

The exhibition will run from Friday 4th – Sunday 27th February 2022, in the ‘Make Space’ exhibition space at the International Slavery Museum, located on the 3rd Floor.

Hannah Gloudon from Savera UK Youth, said: “We are so excited to finally be exhibiting our work, which was originally created in 2019 and was due to be exhibited in 2020.

“The pandemic saw schools close and leave many vulnerable young people at risk of FGM. Last year, UNICEF stated that 2 million additional cases of female genital mutilation likely to occur over next decade due to COVID-19*

“It has never been more vital for us to speak out against FGM and empower our peers to do the same. Education is key to meeting our aim of being the generation that eradicates harmful practices like FGM and we hope that our #EndFGM exhibition raises awareness and encourages other people to join us in speaking out.”

Lois South, Education Demonstrator at the International Slavery Museum, added: “The work that Savera UK does is so incredibly important, and it is an honour to work with them to highlight and raise awareness about FGM and other harmful practices.

“The art that members of Savera UK Youth have created is beautiful, emotive and  powerful, and we hope that through this exhibition, we can collectively shine a spotlight on what is often a misunderstood subject.

“As a museum, our mission is not only to raise awareness about transatlantic, chattel and other forms of enslavement, but we are also a campaigning museum that actively engages with contemporary human rights issues.

“We hope through this exhibition we can make a difference and educate people about this sensitive yet important issue.”

Merseyside’s Police Commissioner Emily Spurrell said: “FGM has no place in today’s society. Not only is it illegal, it’s life-threatening, and it leaves young victims in agony facing long-term physical and psychological challenges.

“Raising awareness of the risks and signs of FGM within our communities, and among key agencies and professionals, is vital if we are to protect girls from harm. I welcome the launch of this innovative exhibition curated by Savera UK Youth which aims to educate people about the impact of FGM and encourages them to speak out.

“While FGM is a deeply sensitive subject, there are no cultural, religious or medical reasons that can ever justify a practice that causes so much suffering. We need everyone to understand FGM is child abuse, it’s illegal and it must be eradicated.”

While FGM and other harmful practices, such as ‘honour’-based abuse and forced marriage remain ‘hidden’ crimes that often go unreported, Merseyside Police saw an increase of almost 56 per cent in reports of ‘honour’-based abuse in 2021.

The force works closely with Savera UK Youth’s parent organisation, Savera UK, a leading charity tackling culturally-specific abuse such as HBA, forced marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM), by providing life-saving support to survivors and those at risk and campaigning to eradicate the practice for good.

Merseyside Police lead for Protecting Vulnerable Persons, Detective Superintendent Steve Reardon, said: “Statistics from Merseyside Police show that in 2021, 54 incidents of ‘honour’-based abuse were reported to the force, which is an increase of 24 on the 12 months to March 2021. Considerably fewer incidents of Forced Marriage and FGM were reported, indicating that under-reporting of ‘honour’-based abuse and other harmful practices remains an issue in the region.

“There are currently 24 FGM Protection Orders in place in Merseyside, protecting 27 girls, and 36 Forced Marriage Protection Orders, protecting 66 people. While these figures provide part of the picture locally, the true number of those at risk of ‘honour’-based abuse is not known due to the hidden nature of these crimes.

“We appeal to anyone who has been a victim of ‘honour’-based abuse to contact police. You will be supported with sensitivity by specialist officers, and we will help you to receive the support of the dedicated team at Savera UK.”

For help and support you can contact the Savera UK helpline on 0800 107 0726 (9am – 5pm, Monday – Friday), you can call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or if you or someone you know is at immediate risk, call 999.

*Source: UNICEF https://www.unicef.org/press-releases/2-million-additional-cases-femalegenital-mutilation-likely-occur-over-next-decade

Liverpool Town Hall will be illuminated orange to raise awareness of gender-based violence

Liverpool City Region landmarks to be lit orange to support global call to end gender-based violence

Liverpool Town Hall will be illuminated orange to raise awareness of gender-based violence
Liverpool Town Hall will be illuminated orange to raise awareness of gender-based violence

Iconic buildings and landmarks across the Liverpool City Region will be illuminated bright orange from this evening (Thursday 25th November), as part of a campaign aimed at ending gender-based violence.

For the second consecutive year, Savera UK has joined forces with Zonta Club London (part of Zonta International) to support the global ‘Orange The World’ campaign.

We are partnering to raise awareness of gender-based violence and abuse in the UK and around the world, through a series of events and initiatives that will take place during the United Nation’s 16 Days of Activism, which run from the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and Girls on 25th November to Human Rights Day on 10th December.

The campaign will begin with the illumination of landmarks in the Liverpool City Region and beyond in memory of all those lost to male violence, but also as a symbol of hope for a brighter future free of fear. Landmarks being illuminated include Liverpool Town Hall, St George’s Hall, Cunard Building, World Museum Liverpool, Merseyside Police Headquarters, Rose Hill and its Canning Place offices, Greystone Footbridge in Knowsley, Mersey Gateway Bridge in Halton and Wallasey Town Hall in Wirral. Everton FC will support the campaign by illuminating Goodison Park in solidarity, while Sefton Council will be “lighting up digitally” on 25th November to mark the start of the 16 days of the campaign. Outside of the city region, the Library of Birmingham will also illuminate in support of the campaign and individuals across the UK are also being invited to light an orange candle or light at home after sunset and place it in a window, as a mark of remembrance and symbol of hope.

Our campaign also features an activism toolkit that will make it easier for people to participate in and engage with the 16 days of activism. The toolkit addresses themes such as allyship, advocacy and knowledge, and includes a bank of resources including social media assets and fact sheets, information about local and national organisations tackling gender-based violence, and events  that people can attend to learn more.

The campaign will culminate in an online panel discussion on Thursday 9th December (4pm – 6pm), Culture is Beautiful: No Excuse for Abuse, which will tackle the harmful ways that culture is wrongly conflated with human rights abuses against women and girls.

Savera UK CEO and founder, Afrah Qassim and Britt Gustawsson of Zonta International will be joined by a panel including Mansi Mehta, Deputy Director, Global Cause Partnerships from UNICEF USA, Dr Elham Manea from Zurich University, a political scientist specialised on the Arab Middle East, Nazir Afzal OBE, former Chief Prosecutor for the North West (UK) and Savera UK patron, and Dr Leyla Hussein OBE, a psychotherapist, specialising in supporting survivors of sexual abuse.

This year’s campaign ‘Orange the World’ campaign is more vital than ever, as violence against women remains devastatingly pervasive in our society. In the 28 weeks following the kidnap and murder of Sarah Everard on 3rd March this year, 81 other women were killed in circumstances where the suspect is a man.

A recently-released government survey also found that 97% of 18–24 year-old women have been sexually harassed, while 80% of all women have been sexually harassed in public.                           

Savera UK CEO and Founder, Afrah Qassim, said: “The statistics about gender-based violence are shocking yet, sadly, no longer surprising. Across their lifetime, 1 in 3 women – around 736 million – will be subjected to physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner or sexual violence from a non-partner. This figure has remained largely unchanged over the last 10 years.

“It has never been more important for people to take action against gender-based violence. Activism takes many forms and even the smallest steps, such as educating yourself about different forms of abuse or identifying yourself as an ally can have an enormous impact. Our Orange the World toolkit provides a starting point for people to enact change.”

Zonta Club London President, Anne-Li Stjernholm, said: “As organisations Savera UK and Zonta Club London are very much aligned on our aim to promote a world without violence against women and girls and this partnership is very valuable for us. We hope it will last for many years to come and that we can expand our reach. Speaking with one voice makes our message so much stronger.”

Merseyside’s Police Commissioner Emily Spurrell said: “We know there are women and girls – relatives, neighbours, friends and colleagues – who are suffering gender-based abuse and violence in our communities every single day.

“Today, and over the next 16 days, we want to make it clear that there is no excuse for abuse. This campaign is about demonstrating our shared commitment to eradicating violence against women and girls.  By lighting up some of Merseyside’s most iconic building in orange, we are sending out a visible message that are determined to create a brighter future for women and girls, free from violence and abuse.

“I would urge any woman or girl who is experiencing abuse to please reach out for help. There are many fantastic organisations on hand to offer care and support across Merseyside, please visit www.victimcaremerseyside.org for more information.”

Merseyside Police ACC, Ngaire Waine, said: “As a society we all need to take a strong stance against attacks on women and girls, who should be empowered to live their lives without fear of sexual objectification, harassment, or physical and mental abuse.

“Alongside our partners we are committed to making the streets, homes and environments across Merseyside safer for women and girls so they can enjoy their lives to the full without fear.

“Merseyside Police will continue to target perpetrators of this abhorrent abuse and we will support and work with women and girls who are subjected to stalking or harassment, violence, domestic abuse, honour-based abuse or any other crimes based on their gender, so we can identify offenders and put them before the courts.”

Mayor of Liverpool Joanne Anderson said: “Women and girls are disproportionately affected by gender-based violence and abuse, and tackling it is a priority. I am proud of the vital work being done by frontline organisations across the city, providing much-needed specialist support to survivors. The Orange the World campaign raises awareness and understanding of the issue and symbolises our city’s commitment to eliminating all forms of violence.”

To find out more about the Orange the World 2021 campaign and download the toolkit, visit: https://www.saverauk.co.uk/orange-the-world-2021/ 

Buildings Illumination Details

Mersey Gateway Bridge – Lighting orange November 25 and December 10

World Museum – Lighting orange November 25 and December 10

Liverpool Town Hall – Lighting orange November 25 to December 10 (except Dec 3)   

St George’s Hall – Lighting orange November 25 to December 10 (except Dec 4)        

Cunard Building – Lighting orange November 25 to December 10 (except Dec 5)        

Goodison Park – Staying illuminated on November 25

Wallasey Town Hall – Lighting orange November 25 to December 10      

Merseyside Police Rose Hill and Canning Place – Lighting orange November 25

Greystone Footbridge – Lighting orange November 25

 

The Library of Birmingham – Lighting orange from November 25