In May 2015 we opened in London the first specialist refuge for Middle Eastern, North African (MENA) and Afghan women fleeing "honour" based violence, forced marriage, female genital mutilation and domestic violence.
Having a safe place to stay means that vulnerable women will not have to return to violent and abusive partners and families, or be forced onto the street and into further danger. Lack of funding has a significant impact on refuge spaces across the country, and several of our clients with limited English have been turned away from cash strapped refuges which have prioritised women who won’t need an interpreter. As a result, specialist services are crucial to meeting the needs of Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) women in the UK, especially in relation to “honour” based violence, forced marriage and female genital mutilation.
As “honour” based violence and forced marriage experts, we provide holistic, safe refuge support for MENA women and girls. Our team speak six MENA community languages, and provide specialist advice, advocacy, training and counselling.
The women in our refuge have survived numerous traumatic experiences, which have profoundly impacted on their mental and often physical health. Some of them have lived in isolation, some were denied access to education and employment, and have now very few economic resources to count on. Additionally, some of the women in the refuge are pregnant and will soon require additional resources as a result. Our aim is to support and empower these vulnerable women, equipping them with the necessary skills to rebuild independent lives free from any form of violence.
Our fundraising goal
We do our best to make sure that the women in our refuge have all the support they need. We provide them with a safe and secure environment, specialist counselling and advice. However, we still have very few resources and would like to be able to provide more.
In 2016, with your help, we raised £3,470 to build a therapeutic garden where women who have escaped violence can relax, exercise and grow flowers and herbs. This year, for our festive appeal, we ask once again for your help. Every donation and support – from £5 or £10 to sharing our appeal with your contacts – will make a big difference to the lives of the women in our refuge.
Our goal is to raise £2,500. This money will be used to provide women in our refugee with:
- life-skills training opportunities – including support with job searches and CV writing, to ensure that once they leave the refuge, they can build new independent lives;
- therapeutic and entertaining activities – some of the women in our refuge have never been to the cinema or to a museum, so we would like to organise some enjoyable activities with them;
- support with moving-out once they decide to leave the refuge;
- extra help for pregnant women, or those with young children – including clothes and basic supplies;
- PCs and Internet, to allow them to enrol in distance learning courses, or to look for job opportunities;
- furniture and decorations to make our refuge more homely and welcoming.
The Iranian & Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation (IKWRO) is a registered national charity (Charity No 1151507), set up to help women and girls from the UK’s Middle Eastern communities (Iranian, Kurdish, Arab, Afghan and Turkish) who are facing “honour” based violence, forced and child marriage, female genital mutilation (FGM) or domestic violence.
Our organisation was founded by refugee women who had to flee human rights and women’s rights violations in Iran, Iraq and Kurdistan. We are passionate about our work because we firmly believe that all women and girls have human rights, including the right to feel safe, to be protected from violence and to take basic decisions about their lives. These rights must not be compromised in the name of religious or cultural issues.
Besides our refuge, we have three other areas of work:
- we provide direct and confidential advice and professional counselling services for women and girls to enable them to leave violent situations, and long-term emotional support to empower them to overcome the effect of trauma they have been through;
- we provide training to professionals from the public and voluntary sector to improve their understanding of the issues facing our clients and to strengthen their capacity to help them. We also run awareness raising programmes to build women’s knowledge of their rights, and to help them become advocates for change;
- we run campaigns to increase the government’s commitment to protecting minority ethnic women and girls and their rights in the UK through changes in law and policy.
Thank you for your support!