On Saturday 25th November 2023, hundreds joined Savera UK and Zonta UK in their mission to end HBA and harmful practices, as the charities launched their “No Excuse for Abuse” campaign with a march in Liverpool City Centre.
The campaign will run throughout the 16 days of activism against gender-based violence and abuse (25 Nov – 10 Dec) and will include fundraising activities, a panel event discussing Culture, HBA and the Law, and awareness sessions to introduce the public to the issues of HBA and harmful practices.
The event began with drumming from Katumba followed by speeches from Afrah Qassim from Savera UK and Dianne Jeanes from Zonta UK, highlighting the reasons behind the campaign and partnership, which is now in its fourth year.
Before the march began, led by Afrah, Dianne, Savera UK Survivor Ambassador, Khatra Paterson and Merseyside’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Emily Spurrell, Savera UK Young Ambassador Malcolm, and team member Macy, read the stories of five ‘honour’ killing victims from the UK, in line with the theme of the first day of the charity’s 16 days of activism toolkit – remembrance.
“We March for Them”
Arash Ghorbani-Zarin was a 19-year-old student at Oxford Brookes University. During his studies he fell for 20-year-old Manna Begum, they began dating and a year later she fell pregnant. Arash showed friends a scan of the unborn child and took a job in Toys ‘R’ Us in order to support Manna and the baby. However, her father has an arranged marriage planned for her. Their relationship and her pregnancy angered him. He and his two sons ambushed Arash in his car, stabbing him 46 times. The unborn child was aborted after his murder.
After two years in an abusive forced marriage Banaz Mahmod entered a relationship with Rahmat Suleimani. They were in love but their relationship was against her family’s wishes. Banaz’s uncle devised a plan to kill them both which she overheard and reported to the police, but police didn’t respond quickly enough. Two days after Rahmat suffered an attempted kidnap, Banaz was subjected to two hours of rape and torture before being strangled to death. Ten years after her murder Rahmat tragically took his own life.
Laura Wilson, aged 16, was in a relationship with Ashtiaq Ashgar but he made her keep it a secret because he knew his family would be unhappy he was dating a white girl. When Laura found out he was seeing other girls, she had a fling with Ashgar’s friend and fell pregnant. After the birth of the baby Laura and Ashgar rekindled their relationship, but he insisted it remained a secret. After Laura told the families of both Ashgar and the father of her baby about their relationships, Ashgar lured her to a canal where he stabbed her to death.
A 16-year-old girl that attended school in Fulham, Heshu Yones began a relationship with a fellow pupil without her family’s knowledge. She lived a double life, putting make-up on after leaving the house and having friends lie about her whereabouts so she could spend time with her boyfriend. But eventually Heshu’s father received an anonymous letter that their “community” was aware she had a boyfriend. After months of physical abuse, her father killed her by stabbing her multiple times and cutting her throat, in the bathroom where she had barricaded herself.
Samia Shahid was always described as a bubbly and funny girl. Her family arranged for her to marry her cousin abroad. The marriage went ahead, but after she returned to England, she fell in love with Syed Kazim. She divorced her husband and married Syed, but her family did not approve of these actions. Despite being involved in a dispute with her family over her choices, when she was told her father was critically ill, she travelled abroad alone to see him, staying in touch with Syed throughout her trip. The day before her departure date, the constant stream of messages to her husband suddenly stopped. He was informed by her family that she had died of ‘natural causes’ however, an autopsy found she had been subjected to rape and strangulation.
The One Chance Rule
A group of more than 200 marched through Liverpool City Centre, led by Movema’s Liver Bird and Chinese Phoenix, on one of the busiest shopping days of the year, carrying banners and placards. At the marches halfway point, survivor stories were shared by Savera UK survivor ambassador Khatra Paterson, who told her story of being subjected to FGM at the age of 10, and team members Eve and Alex read stories from Savera UK’s own clients.
After marching to Mann Island to join Merseyside PCC’s event and vigil, Savera UK team member Merfat led the group in the One Chance Rule pledge, before Savera UK Youth Advisory Board Member, Ayo, read the poem, Let Women be Free by Juliana Mohamed Noor.
To find out more about other Savera UK events taking place during the 16 Days of Activism, visit: https://www.saverauk.co.uk/current-campaigns/no-excuse-for-abuse/
Image: Andrew AB Photography