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

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JAN Trust’s view: What has the Queen’s Speech told us about new counter-terrorism measures?

In the final days of the election campaign, Theresa May announced “enough is enough” – terrorism was not to be left unchallenged.  She revealed a readiness to weaken human rights laws if they “get in the way” of apprehending terror suspects. Last Tuesday, the Queen’s Speech detailed the Government’s plans for tackling terrorism.

Queen Elizabeth II revealed that a “Commission for countering extremism will be established”. Interestingly, she expanded that the commission would aid eliminating extremism in “all its forms”, including “on the internet”.

JAN Trust has long emphasised the dangers of online radicalisation – publishing a pioneering report on this problem in 2012. The majority of the culprits of recent terror attacks, including the Manchester arena bombing, the London Bridge attack and the Westminster attack, were all exposed to extremism on the internet. The role of the internet in the process of radicalisation is becoming increasingly clear.

This reality only highlights the importance of our Web Guardians™ programme. This is a course that empowers mothers to prevent and tackle online extremism, building community resilience.

However, without funding we are unable to continue this vital work. JAN Trust is calling out to the new government to support a programme that protects our young people from the dangers of the internet. We must put an end to online radicalisation.

In the wake of these recent terror attacks in Britain, we welcome the government’s renewed emphasis on tackling terrorism. We believe that our grassroots approach to preventing radicalisation and extremism will be integral in doing so, and we hope to receive recognition and financial support to carry on our work.

We want all our children, families and communities to be safe from violence and extremism. To learn more about the Web Guardians™ programme, watch this testimony.

Muslim women are still more likely to be unemployed despite doing well in education

A report by the Social Mobility Commission, the ‘Ethnicity, Gender and Social Mobility’ report, has shown that Asian Muslim women, despite doing well in school, become socially immobile. This is due to many factors, including discrimination they face when looking for employment. The chairman of the commission, Alan Milburn, stated that the promise of social mobility is ‘being broken’.

The statistics are shocking when considering that ethnic minorities are far more likely to pursue higher education than White British children, with five in 10 Bangladeshi children going to university compared to just 1 in 10 white British children. Reports have found that British Muslim women have strong positive attitudes towards work, and that whilst they are more likely than White British women to take time out of employment after having children, they tend to have the overwhelming support of their families in finding work afterwards. The Young Foundation found that 93% of Muslim women who are not in work want to be, and feel supported by their families in looking for it. This disproves tabloid claims that Muslim women are unwilling to travel for work, or work in mixed-gender environments. Only 15% of Muslim women in the study said that they sought work in ‘women-only’ spaces, whilst 93% of British Muslim women stated that they would commute for up to an hour. So why are unemployment rates for British Muslim women still so high?

Bangladeshi and Pakistani women are the lowest earners out of all black and ethnic minority groups, having very little chance to gain professional occupations. When compared to male Bangladeshi graduates, despite performing better in education they are still less likely to gain a professional role. Culture is often cited as the central reason behind Muslim women’s perceived “failure” to integrate fully and economically, into British society.

While it is true that some British Muslim women face pressures from their family or community to stay at home, particularly after having children early - three times as many Muslim women as White British women are economically inactive because they are looking after the home – there are many other barriers that Muslim women face. These include discrimination due to religion and gender, and Muslim women who wear the hijab experience an even higher level of discrimination due to their outward display of religious beliefs

Islamophobia in the workplace has been well-documented. Evidence from France has discovered that practicing Muslims had a 4.7% chance of being called back for an interview, compared to 17.9% for their Catholic counterparts. In the UK, the Runnymede Trust has found that 25% of unemployment in ethnic minority groups can be accounted for by employer discrimination.

Muslim women face additional gendered barriers, and ‘cultural’ arguments seep into this discrimination. 1 in 8 Pakistani women in the UK have been asked about marriage and family aspirations in job interviews, as opposed to only 1 in 30 non-Muslim women, and they may also face evidence of “name discrimination”.  Many women have “whitened” job applications, using non-Muslim names on forms. Some have even chosen to stop wearing the hijab and niqab – 18% of Muslim women in work have stated that this helped them to find employment. If Asian Muslim women who are educated struggle in the labour market, it is even harder for barriers BAMER who don’t have qualifications or have recently migrated to the UK and might have limited English.

The report offered a number of recommendations, including that businesses need to specifically support Asian Muslim women to progress in their careers. This is something that JAN Trust has long recognised to be a priority. At JAN Trust, we provide the education for women to become aware of when they are experiencing discrimination and how to overcome it, with the aim of empowering themselves and be socially mobile in the job market.

JAN Trust empowers women to attain and achieve more, despite the fear of discrimination, through a variety of measures: from workshops that provide information about opening businesses to building confidence and self-esteem. Milburn stated that ‘Britain is a long way from having a level playing field of opportunity for all regardless of gender, ethnicity or background’.

Visit our website www.jantrust.org to learn more about the work we do empowering women to play a vital role in British society.

OBE Investiture

Our Founder, Rafaat Mughal, was awarded with her OBE on Tuesday 4th March 2014 at Buckingham Palace by Prince William, Duke of Cambridge. She received her OBE due to her work towards disadvantaged women. We are very proud of her!

This award was covered by press including the Haringey Independent and the Haringey Advertiser. To view the Haringey Independent article: CLICK HERE

Released Tuesday 11th March 2014

Rafaat Mughal, founder of the JAN Trust in Wood Green, receives OBE from Prince William

A women’s rights activist who received an OBE in the Queen’s New Years honours list received her medal from Prince William.

Rafaat Mughal, founder of the JAN Trust in Wood Green, was honoured for her work empowering women from disadvantaged backgrounds.

On Tuesday, March 4, the Duke of Cambridge presented her with the prize at Buckingham Palace.

Mrs Mughal said: “I was absolutely delighted to receive the OBE and the event in Buckingham Place was really good and very well organised as you’d expect.

“Prince William asked me what our organisation is doing and I told him briefly what we are about.

“He was very happy to hear about it and told me to keep up the good work.”

Mrs Mughal started the trust in 1989 and has since helped thousands of women across London to become independent, active members of society.

She said: “I told Prince William that we have helped more than 50,000 women in the past 25 years by helping them learn English, understand the British system so they take part in society and not feel isolated.

Mrs Mughal added: “I do this work because it is in me and a part of who I am.

“I feel very thrilled with all I have accomplished and it’s been great to be recognised by Buckingham Palace but I think it’s even better to hear it from my children.

“My children told me 'mum we are really proud of you' and I just burst into tears.”

As well as founding the charity, Mrs Mughal also lectures on the Middle East, east Africa and Europe, and previously worked as a researcher on issues affecting ethnic minorities.

She was also one of the first Muslim women to be elected as a councillor in Haringey.

Mrs Mughal was invited to 10 Downing Street by then Prime Minister Gordon Brown, and was also runner-up for the Lifetime Achievement Award 2012 in the Directory of Social Change Awards.

On The Importance of Women

Women comprise about half of the world’s population. This half of the world is hugely important in community development, and in the local and global economy. Yet, society is not doing what needs to be done to empower women and unlock their full potential. At JAN Trust we do our best to empower, educate and encourage women, but we need your help to do more!

Globally, women play a huge role in community development. Throughout history, women’s central role as mothers, homemakers, labourers, and thinkers has ensured the development of nations around the world. Education is crucial to the progress of any community, and mothers are the ones who most oftenurge their children to attend and stay in school. In addition, educating women often leads to their children being more likely to achieve a higher level of education as well. Women who are educated areless likely to marry and have children early, and tend to bear fewer children.Global Volunteerspoint out that when there is a change in society “women take the lead in helping the family adjust to new realities and challenges.” This can be crucial in terms of avoiding stagnation or regression in a community when it is faced with a new political organisation of society.

Of course economy is also one of the most important factors in terms of community development. There is much research to show that empowering women will help lift both them and their communities out of poverty. As of 2010, women and girls comprised more than 70 percent of the world’s 1.4 billion poor peopleaccording to CARE International. When women and girls are trapped in poverty, so are their families and communities. Nearly 80% of the agricultural labour force in Africa is female– they are a huge economic resource. If these women were empowered and given the agricultural resources they lack, global hunger could be drastically reduced. In addition to this, a woman’s earning power increases by 10-30 percent for each year of education she receives. This shows once again that providing education for women results in a larger economic input into families and communities, strengthening community development.

Striving for gender equality and female empowerment is hugely important to be able to profit from the economic force that is women. Researchhas shown that companies with more women in senior management positions perform better and receive higher profits. It has also been proven that women make better investors than men. Yet many women around the world are still excluded from paid work and are not able to make full use of their skills. To boost economic growth, women must be empowered to partake in the global workforce and society must be structured in a way that will allow them to participate.

At JAN Trust, our work is premised on the vital role that women play in their communities. This is why we work with women every day, to educate, empower and encourage them. One of our recent projects to try and boost the economic independence of the vulnerable women we work with, is the “We Design Haringey”campaign. We are currently trying to raise money to provide Fashion & Design workshops to women in Haringey, as well as establishing a pop-up shop where they will be able to sell their products. Not only would this project help the women develop crucial skills, it would also help empower them economically. This in turn would contribute to the economic development of our local community of Haringey – the sixth most deprived borough in London.

In addition to this campaign, we run regular services and programmes at our centre and around London to empower marginalised women. One example is our highly praised Web Guardians™ programme, which aims to educate mothers on online extremism. After completing the programme they are armed with tools that will help them protect their children from being radicalised online. At our centre, we also offer a variety of classes including English language skills, and general life skills that empower women and give them a safe space to learn and develop.

To donate to “We Design Haringey” click here, and click hereto learn more about our award-winning Web Guardians™ programme. For more information about our work click here.

The Difficulty of Eradicating Forced Marriages

New figures released by the NSPCC reveal that there has been a12% increasein counselling sessions about forced marriage in the previous year. Summer is often a high-risk period for potential victims of forced marriage, as many are lured away on “holidays” only to be married off abroad against their will. However, a shocking 11% of forced marriages in 2016 took place wholly in Britain, with no overseas element.

Forced marriage is a serious issue and one that is difficult to tackle. Many victims are too scared to report the forced marriage because it would mean isolation and estrangement from their family. In the same way, it is difficult for young victims to stand up to their parents in situations like these especially after forced marriage was made a criminal offence in Britain in 2014, one can imagine that children are hesitant to report their parents or close family because of the punishment they might face.

It is important to note that forced marriage often happen to children – 26% of victims in 2016 were under 18. These victims are especially vulnerable when coerced into marriage by their parents or close relatives, as they might not have anyone to turn to for help or support. By reporting their family members, they might fear that they will not have anywhere to live or feel that they are betraying their family.  This makes forced marriages hidden crimes, as victims do not often speak up before, during or after they happen. This makes them even harder to prevent, and difficult to obtain proper statistics.

Forced marriages are difficult to deal with for individuals, as they deprive a person of their freedom. Sometimes, this can also include the victim being taken away from their home country, being raped and girls being forced to bear children. In rural areas of Syria, forced and underage marriages are flourishing, as parents see them as a way to protect their children in a time of crisis. However, some of the marriages end in more than just deprivation of freedom. It has been found that some girls who are married off in Syria have become so unhappy because of their marriages that they have committed suicide. This clearly shows the psychological problems can result from a forced marriage, especially if the victim is young.

As mentioned, forced marriage is a difficult issue to handle, as it is so sensitive. One woman, New York-based Pakistani designer Nashra Balagamwala, is trying to approach the issue in a creative way. She is herself a potential victim of forced marriage, as she has grown up with parents and family members attempting to marry her off. Her solutions to avoid the marriages have been many, most recently she convinced her parents to let her study and work in the US for a few years. However, now that her visa is expiring, they are expecting her to come back and get married. But Balagamwala has no wish to do so, she describes herself as a “hopeless romantic” and has yet to meet “Mr. Right”. Like most people, she wants to keep her freedom of choice. In order to fund another visa application and highlight the issue of forced and arranged marriage, she has now designed a board game called “Arranged!” Perhaps it is creative solutions like this one – “Darkness masked in lightness” as Balagamwala says – that will help bring the issue to the attention of people who can make a difference.

At JAN Trust, we hold workshops for participants from affected communities, voluntary and statutory sectors including schools, police and healthcare professionals. These sessions are aimed at preventing forced marriages by making people aware of the issue and the signs they can look out for. By raising awareness and educating, we hope to help combat forced marriage and help potential victims keep their freedom. You can support our work and learn more by visiting www.jantrust.organd www.againstforcedmarriages.org.

The Growing Problem of Knife Crime in London

As a London-based charity, JAN Trust has been shocked to witness the dramatic rise in knife crime that has occurred across the capital in the past year. To date, 9 people have been killed in the capital in 2017 and nationally knife crime is at the highest levels since 2011.

And this is without even considering the hundreds of people injured in such attacks. In the 12 months until March this year, this figure was 2028. In Kings College Hospital in London, one surgeon notes that 25% of the trauma injuries they see are directly related to knife crime.

While this is an issue across the country, Met office figures show that in the past year in London gun and knife crime have both risen particularly sharply – by 42% and 24% respectively.

Metropolitan police report released last month indicated that between 2014 and 2016 the number of children carrying knives in London schools rose by almost 50%, while the number of knife offences in London schools rose by 26%.

This is a devastating situation that clearly cannot be ignored.

Far from an issue which has suddenly appeared in the last year, this has been a growing problem for many years because of funding cuts, both to police services and youth facilities.

Many have noted that this tragic situation in which so many young people have lost their lives has been the direct result of funding cuts to the police system. In London, the estimated effect on the Met’s annual £3bn budget ranges from a £100m to £700m reduction.

London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, has said he would fight any further cuts but clearly this is only part of the solution.

Until now, prevention has largely focussed on short-term measures such as limiting the sale of knives to young people, controversial stop and search policies, or punitive sentencing in the aftermath of attacks.

Recently, the father of murdered schoolboy Damilola Taylor has called for an increase in stop and search to prevent knife crimes, and there have even been suggestions of the introduction of metal detectors at school entrances to prevent students from bringing in knives.

However, the murder of a 23-year old man on Tuesday – making 7 knife-crime related deaths in the space of a week – has prompted the MET to take a different approach.

On Wednesday, Scotland Yard announced the creation of Operation Sceptre which will a task force of 80 specialists but also, crucially, a focus on prevention work in schools.

Finally it has been accepted that limited short-term measures are not enough. There needs to be a more holistic approach.

Detective Chief Superintendent Michael Gallagher has said that, “Strategies focused upon particular offences should be complemented by…. broader long-term initiatives against poverty and social exclusion…with messages which are delivered by communities”.

This community-based approach is a measure that JAN Trust wholeheartedly welcomes. With funding we have devised and delivered programmes to mothers and young people raising awareness and tackling knife crime, gun and gang-related violence.

Initiatives such as ours are clearly ones that need supporting and we welcome the MET’s plans to take a more community-based holistic approach to tackle this tragic problem.

Visit our website at http://www.jantrust.org to find out more about the work we do.

Vulnerable Minds: How Daesh is Recruiting Iraqi Children and Targeting British Teenagers

As Iraqi forces’ liberation of Mosul continues, attention is increasingly focusing on what Daesh will do next.
 
It’s feared their leaders, members and sympathisers will ramp up their sinister efforts to target our young people here in Europe, calling for so-called ‘lone wolf’ attacks on home soil, prompting calls for us all to remain vigilant when it comes to protecting our children online.
 
One of Daesh’s most horrifying future strategies is the indoctrination and training of a new generation of fighters. As Daesh’s failed ‘caliphate’ collapses, hoards of fighters have been deserting the ranks – if they haven’t already been killed in combat or suicide attacks. Now, Daesh is preying on the most vulnerable and malleable minds: those of Iraqi and Syrian children.
 
The Independent recently published letters from young radicalised recruits to their parents, discovered at abandoned Daesh hideouts in eastern Mosul. They make for heart-wrenching reading.
 
One, written by Iraqi schoolboy Alaa Abd al-Akeedi, says: “My dear family, please forgive me. Don't be sad and don't wear the black clothes [of mourning]. I asked to get married and you did not marry me off. So, by God, I will marry the 72 virgins in paradise.” He was killed by his suicide vest shortly after. It’s thought he was just 16 years old.
 
The news agency Reuters has managed to gain access to relatives of the teenagers who left the notes.
 
Family members tell a story of innocence; of vulnerable, fragile minds being targeted and then indoctrinated. A man reveals that his teenage relative, who was recruited by Daesh and killed in a suicide attack, had been overweight and insecure and joined the jihadists after his father's death. He told Reuters: “His mind was fragile and they took advantage of that, promising him virgins and lecturing him about being a good Muslim. If someone had tempted him with drugs and alcohol, he probably would have done that instead.”
 
It is this last statement that hits home. As parents, we all understand the worry that our children will hang out in the ‘wrong crowd’ and get into drugs. Young minds are open to influence and eager to try new things – to ‘grow up’. It can be as easy as that.
 
In Iraq and Syria, young people may not be exposed to violence in the same format that our children are in the UK. Despite our efforts to shelter or protect them, our kids consume film, TV, online and video game violence to a point of such desensitisation that it is normalised. They witness the violence occurring in places like Syria and Iraq through their screens.
 
Syrian and Iraqi children on the other hand are directly witnessing violence on the streets in the most gruesome and horrific ways. Some have even been exposed to it under the regime of Daesh as the terrorist group took control of their neighbourhoods, yet even they are vulnerable to radicalisation.
 
Violence is glamourised in action films and video games in the virtual world British children often live in. The brutal realities of extreme violence are all too real for many Iraqi and Syrian children.
 
Some may be more susceptible to radicalisation than others. But all are vulnerable.
 
Phone apps and the Internet make it simple for a direct line to be formed between a Daesh militant in Iraq and our children here in the UK. Daesh knows that our young people are excited by video game violence, by the idea of handling a rifle and fighting an enemy.
 
Considering all of this, we must educate ourselves about the dangers and threats are children face and ensure lines of communication are open between us as parents and our children to protect them and prevent radicalisation.
 
At JAN Trust, we aim to help mothers who fear for their children’s safety online with our Web Guardians© project.
 
Many families have been destroyed by Daesh. JAN Trust is helping in the struggle against home-grown radicalisation so that more families do not have to suffer this same fate.
 
If you are interested in finding out more about Web Guardians© go to http://jantrust.org/projects/web-guardians
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