JAN Trust is a multi-award winning charity empowering and providing leadership for women in order to create positive and active citizens of society

violence against women,

Celebrating International Women’s Day at JAN Trust

Happy International Woman’s Day to women (and men) across the world! Many events are happening today, including a general strike in the US against the current administration and their attitude towards women and a parallel Day Without Women strike in the UK to highlight women’s contribution to the economy. A highlight of the day is set to be Malala Yousafzai’s UN speech which will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3.  

International Women’s Day is a day to celebrate the achievements of women across the world, socially, economically, culturally and politically. The day also calls for gender equality. International Women’s Day is important in symbolising the power of women across the world. This day is a day to commemorate the hard work that women all over the work commit to in order to achieve their dream. Last Year the campaign was a pledge to end gender disparity. This year, the International Women’s Day theme is to Be Bold for Change,- encouraging women to be empowered in the fight for gender equality. .

Currently, despite the UN’s theme of achieving 50/50 gender equality by 2030, it is estimated that this will not happen for 170 years. However, the fight for gender equality has been slowly making progress.

Last week, the UK Parliament voted to pass a bill which aims to end domestic violence. And since International Women’s Day last year, gender equality around the world has progressed. The US Senate has more women than ever before. Maternal mortality has fallen by 45% since 1990. In terms of representation, more movies now have female protagonists. Rwanda’s parliament has the highest number of women representatives in the world. In terms of educational attainment, girls are outperforming boys.

Of course, despite these changes there is still much to be improved and awareness still needs to be raised around the issues facing women and girls. Still, one in three women experience gender-based violence and annually 62 million girls are denied access to education.

At JAN Trust, we have helped to empower over 110,000 women by giving them skills to improve their employment prospects including IT, English and fashion. Our Web Guardians© programme works to provide women and mothers to tackle extremism and online radicalisation, protecting their young ones. Furthermore, our Against Female Genital Mutilation and Against Forced Marriages campaigns work to raise awareness of the human rights abuses women suffer around the world on a daily basis. During this month of celebrating women’s achievements, if you would like to support the work that JAN Trust does, text JANT00 £10 to 70070.

Our Director, Sajda Mughal OBE, has said:

“Every year I welcome International Women’s Day as an opportunity to celebrate the achievements and also the potential of women. As the leader of a multi-award winning women’s charity, JAN Trust, I recognise the key role that women play in society, a role that is often overlooked. I work to create gender parity in all areas by providing women with the skills so that they can integrate, feel confident in their abilities and fulfil their full potential.  For JAN Trust, being Bold For Change means unlocking the potential that women all over the world have. As leaders, we have a responsibility to take decisive action to help include and advance women. Everyone – women, men and non-binary people – can pledge to take a step to help achieve gender parity in whatever way they can. At JAN Trust this includes helping women to believe that they can push themselves to achieve their very best and take control of their lives. In 2017 let us all #BeBoldForChange and fight for gender parity between men and women.”

#IWD2017 #BeBoldForChange

FGM - Not Only a Problem Abroad

Many are aware that FGM, Female Genital Mutilation, is a huge international problem affecting around 200 million girls and women globally. However, a new report from the NHS shows that FGM is still very much a problem, not only globally, but also in the UK.

The NHS report was released last week, and the data covers the period from April 2016 to March 2017. Within this period, 9,179 cases of FGM were reported across the NHS. This includes cases where FGM was identified, treatment was given, or a woman with FGM had given birth to a baby girl. Out of the 5,391 cases which were recorded in the system for the first time, 114 were girls under the age of 16.

The report marks a slight drop in numbers from the previous year, when 9,223 cases were reported, of which 6,080 were newly recorded. It is positive that the numbers are dropping, but they are not dropping nearly fast enough. Out of the 26% who reported the country in which the FGM took place, 1,229 reported that it took place in an African country, while 57 reported that it took place in the UK. This is a rise from the 18 newly recorded cases that were reported to have taken place in the UK in 2015-2016.

A girl or woman who has been subjected to FGM will likely suffer the consequences of it for the rest of her life. FGM can lead to infections, increased risk of HIV and AIDS, cysts and neuromas, infertility, complications in childbirth, psychosexual problems, and trauma. These are only a few of the issues that can arise from FGM, but it is apparent that they are varied and can affect every part of a woman’s life.

Currently, 63,000 girls aged 0-13 in England and Wales are at risk of FGM, and JAN Trust works hard to raise awareness to those at risk and to provide support to victims of FGM. We offer workshops in schools, colleges, community groups and statutory agencies. These workshops aim to raise awareness of how to detect cases of FGM, as well as offer advice on how to support victims. In the last 4 years, we have delivered over 200 school sessions. We have worked with over, working with 20,000 young people and practitioners across the UK and have worked in over 25 boroughs.

See how you can help us continue this vital work here http://jantrust.org/projects/against-fgm

Honour-based crimes and why they are incompatible with Islam

Honour-based crimes have come to be associated with Islam. The term ‘honour’ refers to the belief that a daughter or wife has brought shame upon the family and surrounding community by committing an “immoral” behaviour. The  horrific nature of this crime still garners much attention from the media -the latest being the murder of a 16-year old girl in Pakistan by her family members after marrying someone her family did not approve of. Another horrific incident in Pakistan occurred in which a man electrocuted his sister to death for marrying someone of her choice. As a result of increasing awareness of the prevalence of these crimes in Pakistan, law was passed against ‘honour killings’ in October but legislative changes are only half the battle, much more has to be done, especially to change attitudes.

In the UK honour killings are particularly shocking, with up to 12 occurring every year. One such case was that of Banaz Mahmod in 2006, who was murdered by her father and uncle for leaving her arranged marriage and beginning a relationship with another man.

As Honour killings largely occur in Muslim countries or within Muslim communtiies this has been misinterpreted to mean that Islam condones such actions. However, n the Quran it states:

“Whoever kills a believer intentionally, their reward will be Hell, to abide therein forever, and the wrath and the curse of Allah are upon them, and a dreadful penalty is prepared for them.” (4:93).

Clearly it is a misconception that Islam condones honour killings. In Islam the murder of women is not condoned under any circumstance.

In the UK many women are scared to report such instances and when they are reported there is an extremely low rate of prosecution. From 2011 to 2016 there were 7,048 reports made to police of honour-based crimes and just 3% of these actually resulted in charges. This is due to a lack of appropriate support for women in these situations. In fact, in the UK there is no specific legislation against honour-based crime, it can fall under murder, rape and other charges, which arguably fails to recognise the specific nuances of this crime and difficulties that women may face in coming forward or bringing charges.

These crimes are abhorrent and should be recognised in society as a clear abuse of human rights. In order to do this attitudes need to change. The JAN Trust provides training on Honour Based Violence (HBV). If you are interesting in attending or arranging training please contact the trust on info@jantrust.org. Honour-based crimes can also be linked to forced marriages, our website Against Forced Marriages offers support for vulnerable women.

Muslim women, misogyny and Islamophobia

In recent weeks, there have been a spate of attacks targeting Muslim women both in the UK and abroad. Last week, a man was arrested for kicking a pregnant Muslim woman who it was reported on Tuesday lost her baby as a result. In the US, a Scottish Muslim woman visiting New York had her blouse set alight as she waited near a store. Attacks on Muslims have sadly become the norm. Everyday hate crime and discrimination seem to inform the daily lives of British Muslims but this doesn’t make the above any less shocking. In the US, Islamophobic rhetoric being spewed by Republican presidential frontrunner Trump is fanning the flames of Islamophobia whilst in the UK, hate crime has risen rapidly since Brexit. As Linda Sarsour, executive Director of the Arab American Association of New York, wrote in an opinion piece for the Guardian last week, ‘not only is wearing my religious headscarf in public an act of faith, but it has also become an act of courage.’

The challenge of institutional racism

Over a fortnight ago, an article was published in the Evening Standard titled ‘Nearly half of black and ethnic minority Londoners have faced racist abuse.’

If this statistic surprised anyone, it shouldn’t have. Yes, we have made progress in the fight against racism. Last month, Londoners voted to have a Mayor who is a practising Muslim and the Chelsea Flower Show awarded its first gold medal to a Black woman but this doesn’t mean that racist abuse and discrimination against Black and ethnic minorities has disappeared or isn’t as bad as it used to be.

Hate crime is rising rapidly particularly against visibly Muslim women. Articles about attacks on Muslim women appear almost daily in both print and online media. There have even been videos uploaded to the Internet of the physical and verbal attacks on Muslim women.

However, physical and verbal abuse is not the only form of racism Black and ethnic minorities are encountering. According to the article in the Evening Standard, the form of racism and discrimination affecting Black and ethnic minorities today is institutional racism. As the author of the article, Joe Murphy, wrote ‘Our investigation uncovers the often blatant, however mostly subtle and complex, nature of ‘silent discrimination and institutional racism’ that is present in modern Britain today.’ The unemployment rate of non-Whites is significantly high as the graph below which was produced by the Office for National Statistics last year shows.

Muslims are one such group that are disproportionately affected by institutional racism and face the most difficulties in finding employment or rising to a managerial role. This can be attributed to rising Islamophobia. Last year, Dr, Nabil Kattab of the University of Bristol conducted a survey revealing that 71% of British Muslim women are up to 65 per cent less likely to be employed than white Christian counterparts.

The failure to properly address institutional racism increases the feeling of disaffection already felt by marginalised communities and can lead to them becoming even more isolated. It also prevents them from fully integrating into the society in which they live and fosters a sense of inequality and unfairness.

JAN Trust has worked with marginalised women from BAMER communities for nearly 3 decades encouraging, educating and empowering them so that they can fully participate in society but these efforts can be thwarted if these women are not given access to the same opportunities as other women with similar skills and experience.

In 2010, JAN Trust launched its Say No To Hate Crime campaign. Our website is a resource bank providing access to a range of information and materials about hate crime specifically race and religious hate crime for victims of hate crime as well as their supporters and also professionals working on this issue. We actively encourage victims of hate crime to anonymously report the verbal and/or physical abuse they’ve suffered using our online reporting form. We also provide support to victims and shape policies aimed at combating hate crime and Islamophobia. To find out more about how JAN Trust is tackling hate crime, please visit our website at: http://www.saynotohatecrime.org.

‘Masculinity so fragile a woman only needs to breathe to hurt it’

“As a women (sic) we must stand up for ourselves. As a women we must stand up for each other … As a women we must stand up for justice. I believe that I am a modern day feminist. I believe in equality. I need not to choose what type of women should be. I don’t think there is any need to label ourselves just for sake of society. I am just a women with free thought free mindset and I LOVE THE WAY I AM. J” Qandeel Baloch wrote just three days before her murder.

In the early hours of Saturday, social media celebrity Qandeel Baloch (born Fouzia Azeem) was given a tablet and then strangled to death by her younger brother Waseem in a so-called ‘honour killing’. Her brother admitted at a press conference in the presence of police that he had murdered his sister because “she [had] brought dishonour to the Baloch name” with her provocative posts on social media.

Feminist groups in Pakistan immediately launched an online petition condemning the murder of Qandeel Baloch and demanding that the government put her killer on trial. Since her murder on Saturday various opinions have been expressed with some including those who support the petition blaming her death on the way in which the media attacked her and revealed information about her private life. The Pakistani Government was also blamed for failing to respond to Baloch’s request for protection.

According to the BBC, 1,096 women were killed in Pakistan by relatives in ‘honour killings’ last year. This represented a 21% increase between 2013 and 2015. In February, Punjab, the country’s largest province, passed the Protection of Women against Violence Bill, a landmark law, criminalising all forms of violence against women. This was met with an uproar by religious groups and all mainstream Islamic parties who want the law repealed. They fear that the law will encourage women to divorce thereby destroying the country’s traditional family system. In reality, what is feared is the loss of control of women and the dismantling of a patriarchal society.

In a recent and rare development the state has become the complainant in Qandeel’s murder making it impossible for her family to pardon her killers by using blood money laws. Blood law is a traditional law which involves the payment of blood money.  It is usually the avenue taken by families but leads to the dropping of murder charges. What is needed is reform of such laws so that those who commit such acts are tried in court.

‘Honour killings’ are not just a problem in Eastern culture but in Western too as Pakistani feminist groups pointed out in their petition citing the following cases: 31-year-old Maria Nemeth disembowelled by her boyfriend Fidel Lopez in Florida, United States; 27-year-old Farkhunda beaten to death by a mob in Kabul, Afghanistan; 37-year-old Miriam Nyazema stabbed 26 times by her British soldier Josphat Mutekedza; the multiple victims of Elliot Rodger a violent, anti-woman killer with a manifesto in California, United States.

In the UK, 11,000 UK cases of so-called ‘honour crime’ have been recorded in five years from 2010 to 2014. Since it was established in 1989 JAN Trust has worked tirelessly to tackle honour-based violence (HBV) in its various forms for example, murder, assault, forced abortion, disfigurement, enforced suicide, kidnapping and false imprisonment or any other crime motivated by honour in order to uphold perceived cultural and/or religious beliefs.

Not only do we work with communities and religious groups and seek to influence government policy but we also provide training on HBV for agencies across London and the UK. Our training is culturally sensitive and explores religious stipulations. If you are interested in attending or arranging a training session please contact us at: info@jantrust.org
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