“No Excuse for Abuse”: Savera UK Liverpool march to call for end to HBA and harmful practices

A Merseyside-based charity will march through Liverpool city centre from Williamson Square on Saturday 25th November to call an end to ‘honour’-based abuse (HBA) and harmful practices, after it has seen an increase of almost 6% in new referrals into its service and a continuing growth in demand.

Savera UK is a leading national organisation that helps survivors and those at risk of HBA and harmful practices, which include forced marriage, female genital mutilation (FGM) conversion therapy and many more.

Last month, Home Office data revealed that there were 2,905 HBA-related offences recorded by the police in England and Wales*, an increase of 1% compared with the year ending March 2022 (2,871 offences). Of the 2,905 HBA offences, 84 were FGM offences and 172 were forced marriage offences.

The data also shows that there were 2,018 HBA-related incidents recorded by the police, an increase of 10% compared with the previous year (up 151 from 1,830). These cover incidents reported to the police that, following investigation, do not amount to an offence according to the National Crime Recording Standard.

In the same reporting period, Savera UK has seen an increase of almost 6% in new referrals into its service.

The march will take place on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women & Girls and will officially launch Savera UK’s fourth annual campaign with Zonta UK (part of Zonta International) – Culture is Beautiful: No Excuse for Abuse’ – which seeks to raise public awareness of the ‘silent’ and often misunderstood issues of HBA and harmful practices, to separate them from cultures and religions that are wrongly used to excuse or justify them, and to provide people with information and the tools to help end this abuse.

Supporters will gather at Williamson Square at 1:45pm. There will be a drumming performance from Katumba and some short speeches before the march will begin, heading through town with Movema’s Sankofa and Liver Birds performing to celebrate the beauty of culture. There will be a further stop along the route when Savera UK survivor ambassador, Khatra Paterson, will share her story, and readings from Savera UK’s own clients will also be shared.

The march will end at Mann Island, where Savera UK will share the ‘One Chance Rule’ a simple and effective tool for anyone to help those who may be at risk of HBA or harmful practices. People will then be able to join Merseyside PCC’s violence against women and girls’ event, with stalls, guest speakers and a vigil taking place in the atrium at Mann Island.

Afrah Qassim, CEO and Founder of Savera UK, said: “Every year, 5,000 people die as a result of HBA and harmful practices. While these issues are more prevalent in some communities, the issues can affect people of all ages, genders, sexualities, ethnicities and backgrounds, and the issue is present in the Liverpool City Region.

“This is a message that we want to share with the city region. HBA can affect anyone, and it is a problem that we all need to be aware of, so that we can end it together. We also want to break the myth that HBA and harmful practices are part of any culture or religion – they are not. They are human rights abuses, plain and simple.

“As well as raising awareness, our march will be a celebration of culture, which is beautiful and foundational to us all. We will not allow culture or religion to be connected to these practices or used as an excuse for abuse.”

The march is the first of a number of activities and events organised by Savera UK that will take place during the 16 Days of Activism against gender-based violence, to highlight the issue of HBA and harmful practices. There will be free online awareness sessions on Tuesday 28th November and Saturday 9th December, which will explain what HBA and harmful practices are, how to spot them and how to get help or signpost others to help.

On Friday 8th December Savera UK will also host a discussion event at LJMU Student Life Building: Culture ‘Honour’-Based Abuse & the Law. Human rights barrister Dexter Dias KC, Savera UK survivor ambassador and campaigner, Payzee Mahmod, Kim Johnson MP and event chair, Dr Hannah Baumeister, will discuss culture, HBA and the legal system, what the justice system has achieved and what needs to change.

Throughout the 16 days of activism (25th November – 10th December), Savera UK is also encouraging people to remember the 5,000 people lost each year to HBA and harmful practices, by taking on the “5K to end HBA challenge” and doing an activity of their choosing – from running or walking 5K, to completing a 5,000 piece jigsaw, to raise money and awareness for the charity and the issues it works to end.

You can find details of all events on the Savera UK website here: https://www.saverauk.co.uk/current-campaigns/no-excuse-for-abuse/

* (excluding Devon and Cornwall)

Image: Savera UK’s 2022 March event (photo by Gary Lambert)