Violent Extremism and Gangs; widely divergent goals inherent similarities

Although it is clear that the violent extremist and gangs differ vastly in their overall goals there are definitive similarities that can be drawn between the two groups.

There are many similarities that can be drawn between violent extremist groups and criminal gangs. There are many obvious parallels. Both groups involve illegal activities, especially violence and both are dominated mostly by young men.

There have been more than 50 suspected murders in the capital this year, raising a number of questions about the causes of violent crime in London. There is fraught debate about how best to tackle the causes of violent crime and the government’s role in protecting our young people.

At JAN Trust we find it hard not to draw similarities between violent extremism and violent gang related crime, for a number of reasons. However this is most evident in the recruitment process of both extremist groups and gangs. As with extremism there are a huge variety of reasons that a young person may be drawn into a gang. However, between the two there exists one prevailing theme, the recruitment of disaffected youths, and both promising a sense of belonging.

Although these groups may appear to have widely divergent goals, there are inherent similarities between them. Robert Orell a former member of a white supremacist movement in Sweden in the 1990s said “Yes, there are differences in ideology, but if you look at how these groups are organised, and who and how they recruit – actually, they are very similar.”

There are a magnitude of reasons for an individual to become disenfranchised and lacking a sense of individual and collective identity, that leads them seeking personal significance and a sense of belonging. Such reasoning can include factors such as: socioeconomic opportunity or lack thereof, societal marginalisation, and institutionalised oppression, leaving individuals with feelings of powerlessness and vulnerability. These circumstances leave individuals vulnerable to those who are willing to exploit feelings of powerlessness and marginalisation, creating the possibility of an attachment to an extremist organisation or gangs. These groups and organisations are able to provide those lacking a sense of identity, a sense of collective belonging and a purpose.

With growing austerity seen across the country it is no wonder more and more young people are turning to alternatives outside of the mainstream, between 2010 and 2016 youth services were cut by £387m.

It is important remember these often young men are only acting as foot solider for gangster and violent extremism groups, there is deep network of violent groups and individuals that prey on these vulnerable young men. On both sides they are making a calculated decision of who they pick on to recruit.

JAN Trust the highly acclaimed Web Guardians™ programmes that works at a grassroots level in local communities to support parents, mothers and foster carers to prevent and tackle online extremism. In addition to this in 2010 JAN Trust ran a similar model with same client base to prevent and tackle gun, knife and gang crime in Haringey, where four people have lost their lives since January. It is these kinds of programmes that are able to help support parents to have a real impact on the lives of their children. Current austerity measures mean that many organisations like JAN Trust are unable to do this vital work, to truly tackle these issues of extremism and gang violence the government must resources this vital work.

We must present and alternative to help young people with identity issues, or feeling alienated to realise that joining such groups does not provide them with the answers they look for. Addressing our fraying humanity in order to protect our young people and future generations, from the danger of recruiters, extremism and gang violence is a pressing agenda. We must address disparities that exist across society and foster a politics that provides equality for all; we can no longer ignore the fraught class divides that exist in our society that result in deaths of innocent lives.

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Posted in Crime, Extremism, JAN Trust, London, radicalisation, Radicalisaton, Society, Uncategorized, Violence | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

The UK’s violent crime epidemic hits BAME communities hardest

The rates of violent crime in UK are on the rise, with knife crime rising by 20%, gun crime rising by 21% and London’s murder rate overtaking New York’s. However, it is marginalised members of BAME communities who are most at risk of being both victims and suspected of this violence. It is vital that these marginalised communities are made aware of and educated about this issue to enact meaningful change.

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The current figures highlighting the rise of violent crime have aligned with the spate of recent murders across London where 8 people were killed in 7 days in March. The rates of violent crime in this period have been twice as much as the previous year and as it stands, there have been over 50 suspected murders in London this year alone.

One of these victims was 19 year old Kelvin Odunuyi who was shot dead outside the Vue cinema in Wood Green on 8th March 2018 – in an incident police are treating as gang-related. It is noted that Kelvin himself was not a gang member, but potentially socialised with individuals who were gang-affiliated. This sort of violence has been linked by some to an escalating ‘post-code war’ in North London, where inter-gang tensions are rising. Police in Haringey have been granted controversial blanket stop and search powers across a large portion of the borough in response to these recent attacks.

Only a few days after this incident, a 14 year old boy was shot on Seven Sisters Road and  a young man was stabbed to death outside Stratford Shopping centre. More recently, a 17 year old girl was tragically shot dead in Tottenham, which is also reported to be gang-related.

The problem is growing rapidly and should be a huge cause of concern, especially for those from marginalised BAME communities. Members of the BAME community are overly targeted as suspects of gang-related violent crime and are statistically more likely to be victims. In this recent spate of crimes across London, it has been individuals of colour who have suffered the most.

Although the country and media outlets are recently starting to wake up to the reality of the problem; it has long been brushed under the carpet. Last month, a  top Metropolitan police officer suggested that the reason there hasn’t been ‘collective outrage’ relating to the rates of knife crime in the UK is because many victims are from black communities.

Turning a blind eye to the suffering of ethnic minority communities is unacceptable and the inadequate response to violent crime so far reflects a deep-rooted racism within this country. It is time to enact meaningful change to prevent this violence – not only do the government need to tackle this issue head on, but it is also important to work with and educate marginalised BAME families who are most likely to be affected. Raising awareness about knife and gun crime alongside gang-related crime and the signs of gang membership within hard to reach communities is imperative.

At JAN Trust, we provide advice to mothers and families about various issues including violent crime which disproportionately affects their children. Through our grassroots sessions we are able to connect with marginalised families in an environment that is safe, welcoming and productive. Find out more about the work we do here: https://jantrust.org/

Posted in Active citizenship, Advocacy, british, Campaigning, Citizenship, Crime, discrimination, Diversity, Education, Ethnic Minorities, Inclusion, JAN Trust, knife crime, London, police, Racism, Uncategorized, Violence | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Knife Crime – What’s next?

Knife crime on our streets is endemic. The pervasive nature of the problem sadly becomes more apparent on a daily basis, as more young people lose their lives.  

The New Year brought about a depressing reality in London, in a short 15 hour period between New Year’s Eve into New Year’s Day four young men died in unrelated knife attacks in north, east and south London. These deaths brought the total number of fatal knife attacks in the capital to 80 in 2017. In March there were more murders than in any month for more than a decade.

These events are systemic of the general trends of knife crime across England and Wales. Figures released by the ONS  show that between September 2016 and September 2017, recorded crime rose across England and Wales. With knife crime rising by 21% nationwide, and a similar amount in London.

For the families of victims this is a painful reminder that the epidemic continues. There exists a feeling that the government is doing little to help prevent the rise in knife crime. Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, in an article for The Guardian argued that “in recent years as the government’s long-term approach to crime and cuts to preventative services have started to bite.” As representative of London, Mr Khan has also received backlash for failing to tackle the rise in knife crime. The aforementioned statistics are clear evidence that the government’s knife crime strategy is failing.

Doreen Lawrence, mother of murdered teenage Stephen Lawrence, said the latest surge in knife crime across London would be taken more seriously if the victims were white, “It comes under the race issue again – look who’s dying. If that was the amount of kids who were in the white community that were dying, do you think that something would have been done?”

David Lammy, MP for Tottenham, has made it clear that action on knife crime is paramount, after four people were killed in his constituency. Lammy calls for the focus to move away from youths, though a reassuring rhetoric; it creates a cycle that does very little to stop the knife crime epidemic. Lammy argues that this epidemic is in fact driven by a ‘sophisticated network of veteran organised criminals’ and it is therefore those who should be targeted, there is little to be achieved by targeting ‘footsoldiers’, and instead efforts must focus on those at the top of London’s criminal networks that are exploiting our young people.

To truly address the root causes of this epidemic it is essential that those who have the ability to so have adequate resources. It is no secret that the police forces are being cut, along with Border Force budgets, leaving them with little resource to tackle serious organised crime.

At JAN Trust, through our Web Guardians™ programme we work with women and mothers to enable them to develop the skills to help protect their children both online and offline, encouraging them to have and maintain an open dialogue between them and their children about the dangers that exist to young people today. This work is vital, in protecting our future generations.

To truly tackle the epidemic of knife crime, that is destroying so many lives, we must tackle the root causes of the problem, the statistics show that the rate of knife crime across the UK shows little signs of reducing. It is time to act.

Posted in Active citizenship, Campaign, Campaigning, Crime, JAN Trust, London, police, Society, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , ,

Welcoming our new patron Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon OBE

Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon OBEJAN Trust is delighted to be able to announce The Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon OBE is to be a new patron of our charity. We are honoured to have such an influential and determined woman supporting the JAN Trust.

Doreen Lawrence’s first son Stephen Lawrence was brutally murdered, in a racist attack, on 22nd April 1993.  Following a nationwide appeal, Doreen Lawrence set upon challenging the British justice system and the police force due to their appalling racist behaviour against her family – which resulted in the conviction of two suspects in January 2012 through the abolishment of the double jeopardy law (2005). The outcome is a true testament to Lawrences’s striking strength and persistence, even in the most difficult time, in the face of great resistance Lawrence never gave up and she continues to fight for a true social change.

Since then, Doreen Lawrence has founded and is Life President of the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust – a charity that gives bursaries to young people to study architecture, in honour of her son Stephen who had high aspirations of becoming an architect. In addition, Lawrence was appointed OBE for services to community relations in 2003, awarded the Freedom of the Royal Borough of Greenwich in 2012 and received a life peerage in 2013, taking office in the House of Lords as a Labour Peer in October 2013 as Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon. On 22nd January 2016, Doreen Lawrence was inaugurated and officially welcomed as the Chancellor of De Montfort University in Leicester.

Lawrence continues to fight for the improvement of race relations in the UK, often facing many challenges due to a lack of societal acceptance. Lawrence argues that there needs to be greater understanding, there are many barriers that mean that, in particular, Black youth do not receive the support they deserve, Lawrence highlights the issue of mental health in this respect. Racial aggravated hate crimes in the UK are sadly on the rise, though many barriers have been overcome, we still have a long way to go to protect all citizens from such heinous crimes and provide them with true equality.

JAN Trust is truly humbled to be able to name Baroness Lawrence as our new patron.

Posted in Uncategorized

Justice, the veil and a fair trial

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The President of the UK Supreme court, Baroness Hale, has suggested that women giving evidence in court should not be able to hide their faces behind religious veils. However, does this position actually contribute to fairer trials or just deter women who choose to wear the veil from appearing in court at all?

During a speech at the Oxford centre for Islamic Studies, Baroness Hale stated: “We do take it for granted in this country that observing a person’s facial expressions, body language and general demeanour are an important part of assessing their credibility.” This debate has carried on for a number of years now, however,  these  recent comments from Baroness Hale have aligned with the release of the Judicial College’s 2018 edition of the Equal Treatment Bench Book; designed to provide guidance to judges on these sensitive issues.

At JAN Trust, we have years of experience working closely with Muslim women who choose to wear the veil. These women choose to veil themselves for many reasons, ones which often involve deep and profound beliefs which are integral to their individual religious and personal identities. Many long-term users of our services, who choose to manifest their religious beliefs in this way, have told us personally that they find compulsory removal of the veil in front of an audience a deep humiliation.

Regardless of whatever opinions wider society has about this issue, or whatever anyone thinks about the rightness or wrongness of veiling oneself, the reality is this: the removal of a woman’s veil in court will often result in feelings of shame, humiliation and embarrassment. This is true whether someone empathises with their feelings or not and this will ultimately deter many women who veil themselves from giving evidence in court in the first place.

This wields larger implications for the judicial process as cases involving women who wear niqabs potentially speaking out against a defendant may be dropped due to lack of evidence. In a scenario in which they are the victims of abuse, the perpetrator may then walk free and the cycle of abuse continues with no justice being served, especially in cases of VAWG, DV and islamophobia-related hate crimes.

Victim protection should be our utmost aim and responsibility as well as seeking justice for those who have been subjected to criminal acts. With the dramatic rise of islamophobia and incidents of related hate crimes which disproportionately affect visibly veiled Muslim women – It is now more important than ever to protect these victims diligently.

It is clear that telling women to remove their veils does nothing to actually help women in the court room who are already marginalised, but it is also to the detriment of the judicial system itself. When these women are being deterred from even giving evidence in the first place, justice will not prevail and the adversarial trial system we have in the UK becomes ineffective for these communities. In order to be able to prosecute effectively we need to respect the rights and freedoms of these women to manifest their religious beliefs in a way that is authentic to them without dictating how they should dress.

The former President of the Supreme Court, Lord Neuberger, has previously stated that Muslim women should be allowed to wear the veil in court. He has suggested that judges should show respect to other cultures and religions, acknowledging that some other cultures and/or religions may consider it inappropriate for example, to look others in the eye, take an oath or to appear in public with their face uncovered; things that we take for granted and fail to fully appreciate as a society.

His comments stand in stark contrast with those of Baroness Hale, who stresses the importance of visible facial expressions and body language in the court room. Although these factors may be of significance to some court room professionals, the jury, ultimately make a decision based on evidence, not on facial expressions. If a woman chooses not to provide evidence due to the prospect of public humiliation, then the case won’t continue long enough to even consider these factors in the first place.

The new Judicial College guidelines have advised judges that the ordering of the removal of the veil should carry with it other options for these women. For example, court room artists should be banned from including these women in their drawings and that a screen should be provided to limit the amount of observers in the court room environment. If this must be the case, then we would suggest that further options, such as privately filmed testimonies, must be explored and every attempt must be made to allow justice to be carried out.

At JAN Trust, we believe that the requirement to remove the veil in a courtroom environment ultimately hinders the judicial process. Many women choose to suffer alone and in silence rather than take a case to court and this only leads to further marginalisation. We believe that this form of religious observation should be respected by our judicial system and every alternative has to be explored in order for Muslim women who choose to wear the veil to truly be able to find justice within this system without compromising their beliefs. Since 1989, we have fought for and supported BAMER and Muslim women whether they have been victims of crime or are in need of the vital services we provide. To find out more about the work we do visit our website: https://jantrust.org/.

Posted in discrimination, Ethnic Minorities, hijab, Inclusion, Islam, JAN Trust, Muslim, Muslim dress, Muslim women, Society, Uncategorized, women | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

New generation, same old hatred?

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Recent figures have revealed that within and around educational facilities such as colleges and schools, hate crime has risen by 62% in the last year. There have even been reports of primary children as young as six committing racially and religiously motivated hate crimes. As the current political climate continues to infect our young people with bigotry and hatred, is this the future we can expect for our children?

71% of hate crimes reported within schools and colleges were motivated based on race and ethnicity. The report also highlighted other  motivating factors for discrimination and bigotry which were religious beliefs (9%), sexual orientation (9%), disability (10%) and transgender identity (1%). The figures have also shown that on average, 5 offenses occurred on each school day in the last academic year.

As revealed in these statistics, race and ethnicity were overwhelmingly the most common basis of discrimination. This is seemingly at odds with the, perhaps, rose-tinted notion that more progressive, enlightened and inclusive views rise up from our younger generations. Historically, the curve of progress bends upwards with each new generation progressing the causes of equal rights and humanity whether that be civil rights, gender equality or equal opportunities for the LGBTQIA+ community. In light of this, the rise of prejudice and hate-filled mind-sets amongst our children is deeply troubling. The general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders has commented saying that the figures were “disturbing” and reflected a deeper problem that continues to spread through-out society as a whole. Those responsible for fanning the flames of hatred are now influencing young minds and inciting a spike in racist violence which must be addressed.

It is impossible to deny that the new hate crime statistics over the last year correlate with the rise of and increasing prominence of far-right movements. The consequences of mainstreaming these hate-filled ideologies are vast, including the ease at which they are now trickling down and influencing our children. These toxic ideas about race and immigration notably shaped the public rhetoric surrounding Brexit, the French presidential election, and ultimately fed into the popularity and legitimisation of Donald Trump as U.S President. The far-right world view, which in part comprises of a belief in the superiority of whiteness and distain towards people from BAMER communities, has profoundly shaped the current political climate, fuelling the rise of hate crimes and prominence of extremist groups such as Britain First. In order to secure the continuation of progress, inclusion and acceptance we must work towards dismantling these detrimental viewpoints.

It is important to note that although these figures are disheartening, this rise in hate crime is also due, in part, to young victims feeling more empowered than ever before to speak out about their abuse and to report it to authorities. Reporting avenues and systems are now more effective and the culture of silence and shame around discrimination is slowly lifting. Although young people full of prejudice and hatred have been emboldened to speak out and act upon their beliefs, so too have their victims, who are standing up and refusing to ignore the injustice. This should give us hope that the curve of progress will still persist in the face of bigotry.

At JAN Trust, we work towards building a better future for young people and the next generation. Our Safeguarding from Extremism workshops educate young people to help them understand the dangers of extremist ideologies. To find out more about our school sessions please click here: https://jantrust.org/project/schools/.

Posted in discrimination, Diversity, Education, Ethnic Minorities, Hate Crime, Inclusion, islamophobia, London, mental health, Muslim, Racism, Society, Uncategorized, Violence | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

JAN Trust’s view on the Domestic Violence Bill

Domestic violence can affect any one of us, regardless of background. Crime Survey of England and Wales (CSEW) states 1.2 million women aged 15-59 have experienced domestic violence in the year March 2016/17.

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Theresa May recently made an announcement that we at JAN Trust believe is much needed. A reform to the Domestic Violence Bill, meaning that it will now address the issue of financial control something JAN Trust has been lobbying for over a number of years, as well as other forms of non-physical abuse.

Research by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) in March 2017, found that 46 out of 100 of reported incidents of domestic violence resulted in arrests and of that a staggering 32% of incidents were violent. It is important to mention these figures are based only on reported incidents, as we know domestic violence is a crime that goes largely unreported. Economically, the estimated cost of providing services and the lost economic output to victims reach an eye-watering £15.8 billion annually in the UK.

This new proposed bill will now encourage tougher sentences, where children are involved. The Bill also gives more protection to victims, with a new domestic abuse protection order, allowing the authorities to mediate in a crisis situation sooner. The bill has also encouraged the creation of a domestic abuse commissioner, to help safeguard victims further.

Moreover, the Domestic Violence Bill has made the announcement of providing £20m for accommodation-based services such as refuges. This is a huge success as more women will have a temporary shelter for when they make the courageous decision to leave an abusive partner.  In addition, the bill gives domestic abuse victims the same status in court as those who have suffered modern slavery or sex offences.

Through our work, over the last 30 years, we have worked with many women who seek shelter at a refuge, their experiences can result in them becoming increasingly isolated and become at increased risk of suffering from severe mental health issue, including suicidal thoughts. A combination of these leaves women at grave risk. Refuges are often underfunded and over stretched meaning that women are unable to receive the full support they require, this is where a service like JAN Trust is so vital for these women.

Here at JAN Trust, we support the bill entirely; over 99% of our beneficiaries who have suffered domestic violence are women. As a result, we see how their children suffer, creating a vicious cycle of violence. Over time, the behaviour becomes normalised for the children.

We believe education is a key element to tackling domestic abuse; we want to continue bringing women together, encouraging them to speak out and express themselves about the issues that are impacting them. Through our services, we provide a safe haven for women where they are comfortable to express how they feel and more importantly they have become confident overall.

Support must continue to organisations such as JAN Trust, as we provide the necessary care for marginalised BAMER women. Funding must continue in order to support women in these dire situations, at our centre women are able to seek advice and learn new skills with our courses. With our services they also find themselves making new friends, creating a community of women who have become empowered and educated.

Visit us at http://www.jantrust.org to read more about the services we provide and the testimonials of our users.

Posted in Active citizenship, Advocacy, Campaign, Campaigning, Crime, discrimination, Education, girls, JAN Trust, London, marriage, police, Society, Uncategorized, Violence, Violence Against Women, women | Tagged , , , , , ,

The Integrated Communities Strategy Green Paper: JAN Trust’s response

Yesterday, the Government released their Integrated Communities Strategy Green Paper which is up for consultation until the 5th June 2018. Although the paper contains an emphasis on the importance of localised initiatives, the lack of funding pledges for those services may render tangible progress non-existent.

Within the Integration Green Paper, it is noted that a ‘worrying number of communities, are divided along race, faith or socio-economic lines.’ In response, this initial strategy identifies and proposes priority policy areas to help drive integration in the UK.

At JAN Trust, we are encouraged by the acknowledgement of and focus on marginalised ethnic minority women, who are disproportionally affected by some of the key problem areas raised in the paper. These include lower levels of English language proficiency, labour market opportunities, meaningful social mixing and decreased rates of civic engagement contributing, in part, to social isolation.

The paper reveals that the Muslim population, Muslim women especially, are reported to have lower levels of English proficiency than other group over the age of 16. The significance of this is vast as the importance of learning the English language is absolutely fundamental and necessary for integration. Learning the language unlocks the potential of overcoming all the other potential barriers when it comes to assimilating into British society. Without meaningful access to essential ESOL services these communities are hugely disadvantaged.

In an attempt to alleviate this, the Government have proposed a new strategy for ESOL programmes in Britain, identifying the fact that problems with integration cannot be tackled with one singular policy. The new focus will be on piloting and establishing unique localised English language initiatives to empower these communities. This will initially take place across five specific areas; Bradford, Blackburn with Darwen, Peterborough, Walsall and Waltham Forest. It however must be recognised that to see the true advantages of such policies emerge it will be necessary for all initiatives to be rolled out nationally in the coming years, successful integration across the board mandates a national strategy.

The paper also stresses that the availability and affordability of local classes are hugely important for women from minority communities in particular, as other responsibilities within the home can become an obstacle to the prioritisation of learning.

At JAN Trust, we have years of experience in this area and cannot emphasise enough how important it is for local BAMER and Muslim women to have an easily accessible centre for learning. The importance of localised grassroots initiatives such as ours in tackling social isolation for marginalised women is absolutely essential and since 1989 we have proven that this model works. We have pioneered this as our core-work for nearly 30 years, closely working with BAMER and Muslim women and providing ESOL and skills based classes. These classes are vital to build independence, a sense of self-determination and to enable integration into modern day British society.

There has been a long historical lack of funding for local grassroots organisations like ourselves with funding for ESOL falling by over 50% since 2009. However, the papers’ recognition of the importance of localised services for the future of integration policy is a step forward. We hope that these proposals are honoured and that funding for local grassroots initiatives such as JAN Trust is prioritised and realised. As yet there exists no clear detail about how policies will be funded, and without a solid commitment to funding it is questionable whether this strategy will be obtainable.

Follow the link below to view the Green Paper and have your say about how important it is to fund and support local grassroots organisations:

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/integrated-communities-strategy-green-paper

To read more about the pioneering work we do to tackle social isolation and create more integrated communities click here: https://jantrust.org/services/.

Posted in Active citizenship, british, Education, girls, Inclusion, JAN Trust, Society, Uncategorized, women | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

International Women’s Day – At JAN Trust we believe the #TimeIsNow to support and empower women

Over the past year there have been a number of major breakthroughs for women’s empowerment, the theme for International Women’s Day in 2018 is #press for progress, let’s make this happen.

International Women’s Day is politically rooted in strikes and protest and grew out of the labour movement in the America, in 1908 15, 000 women took to the streets or New York demanding shorter working hours, better pay and the right to vote. A year later the first national day of the women was announced by the Socialist Party of America.

In 1910 Clara Zetkin suggested that the day be made international at an International Conference of Working Women in Copenhagen. There were 100 women there, from 17 countries, and they agreed unanimously.

Today International Women’s Day has become a date to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The past year has been a turbulent and trying year for women, however with the ever growing global movement of advocacy, activism and support it looks that there could be significant changes on the horizon.

The women’s movement has taken a dramatic shift into the mainstream due to the culmination of a number of significant events that have taken place largely across the last eighteen months. Events such as the women’s marches, the Weinstein scandal that unearthed the that sexual harassment and violence are endemic and normalised across society and all industries, made plane by the Oxfam scandal, in addition there has been a significant focus on the gender pay gap.

A pivotal moment in the past year emerged after the Weinstein scandal, the #metoo campaign across social media and the subsequent #timesup campaign both have gained huge traction and have opened the floor allowing women to be empowered and open up and share their stories.

However, it must be noted that there still exist a significant lack of a platform for women of colour to become empowered to the same degree as their white counter parts. In 2018 racism operates in a covert manner, this is best explained through domestic violence services in which there exists an disparity in the ability of BAME women accessing help, there are a number of additional barrier that prevent or hinder access. The experience for many BAME women when attempting to access domestic violence services or statutory agencies is compounded by racism and stereotyping.

This is why the work we do at JAN Trust is so vital. We support and provide services to women in hard to reach communities at a grassroots level. JAN Trust supports women to integrate into wider society and become active citizens, providing a much-needed safe space for women where they can support each other, and empower themselves and their families. We are committed to combatting marginalisation, extremism, hate crime and violence against women, by working with Black, Asian, minority ethnic, and refugee (BAMER) women through a number of educational projects. All of the work we do enables women to use their voices to share their stories!

Moving forward we must begin to recognise that women are not a homogenous group, and therefore do not share the same experiences and challenges and exists across a number of intersections. Therefore we must start by trying to empower the women with the biggest number of intersections.

The past year has seen a number of major breakthroughs for women’s rights across the globe, and 2018 is a time to build on these advances. It is paramount that we draw on the resilience of the women’s movement, a fight back in the face of harassment and hate.

To support our work, visit: https://jantrust.org/about-us/support-us/

Posted in Active citizenship, Advocacy, Campaign, Campaigning, child marriage, discrimination, Diversity, Education, forced marriage, Forced Marriages, girls, JAN Trust, London, marriage, Uncategorized, Violence Against Women, women | Tagged , , , , , ,

On International Women’s Day we must continue to #pressforprogress against FGM, forced marriage and sexual harassment

It has been an amazing journey for female empowerment, many obstacles have been tackled we are here to continue fighting!

The 8th of March has become a significant date for many women. During the Russian Revolution 1922, protests broke out against the deteriorating living conditions, lack of food supplies and the shortage of food. Since then it has been a day of celebration and unity.

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Women’s voices are being heard, and each day is a small step to equality on all platforms; however women are still facing discrimination as  a result of  their gender, whether it be socially or in their professional life. The most prominent form of discrimination for women today is sexual harassment, an epidemic that came to light in later part of 2017. Other issues include female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriages, which are still not talked about as much.

FGM has been around for thousands of years in many different cultures, the most popular age for girls to have the procedure is between infancy and 15 years old. There are many different degrees of FGM, from excision of clitoris to complete removal of the clitoris to completely narrowing the vaginal opening as Figure 1 shows.

FGM was outlawed in the UK in 1985 and later in 2003; it was made illegal to arrange FGM for a British citizen or a permanent resident. Regardless of this, many women and young girls are still at dire risk.

The procedure has no known health benefits for girls or women. However, the FGM can host many complications for the survivors, these can include infection, long-term urinary problems, child birth problems, genital tissue swelling and in some cases death. Furthermore, the psychological strain can consist of post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression amongst sufferers.

It is estimated that there are more than 200 million females that have  undergone this procedure to date. The practice is most prevalent in western, eastern and northern Africa. There are many sociocultural factors as to why it is practiced. FGM is seen as a necessity of a young girl preparing for marriage; it has become a social norm in some societies. The backlash, of not conforming to these traditions are becoming isolated and estranged from the community. It is believed FGM ensures chastity and fidelity in a marriage by reducing a woman’s libido, therefore reducing the risk of extramarital sex. To see the factors to look out for if you are worried about someone suffering FGM click here.

FGM

Figure1 http://nationalfgmcentre.org.uk/what-is-fgm/

Another pressing issue in today’s society and something women and men across the globe are fighting against is forced marriage, whereby one party, or both parties are being pressured into the marriage, usually by their families. There are many reasons why it takes place, and for the most part they are the same reasons why many do not come forward.

Victims are often emotionally bribed and possibly face estrangement if they do not enter into the marriage. For many victims, reporting the crime will put them in more danger, as a result they feel like they do not have anyone to seek help from.

The statistics by the Home Office shows an increase of almost 13% from 2014 to 2016. Recent figures, from 2016, show there was a staggering 1428 cases in the UK. Victims, aged 16 or younger, have increased from 11% to 26% (2014/2016 respectively). Victims aged 18-21 have increased from 17% to 34% (2014/2016 respectively). This is an ever growing problem, if you would like to know the signs click the link.

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Women have made wondrous achievements, however, in light of the recent news of sexual harassment in Hollywood and far closer to home in Westminster, it seems women across the globe are coming together to discuss how to fight against a workplace culture of harassment against women.

The Harvey Weinstein debacle started the conversation. Figures from the Trades Union Congress revealed that 52% of women have experienced unwanted behaviour in the workplace. Even more dishearteningly 4 in 5 women do not report the incident.  Alike, reports at Westminster found many MPs under the same scrutiny; accusations of gross misconduct began circulating at the end of 2017.  The string of MPs named from all parties saw many suspended, demoted and under investigation.

As a result, men and women took to social media to talk about their experiences.  #MeToo began trending; people across all industries could share their harrowing stories. In just 24 hours, 4.7 million people around the globe were engaging in the conversation, further highlighting the magnitude of the issue. Similarly, at this year’s Golden Globes, this topic of conversation had taken precedence. #TimesUp began trending whereby A-list celebrities made it their goal to shed more light on the initiative.

At JAN Trust we have aided thousands of women through our classes including English, IT and Fashion, improving their range of skills and employability chances. Through our Web Guardians™ programme, women are provided with invaluable knowledge on how to tackle extremism and online radicalisation. Through our Against FGM and Against Forced Marriages campaigns, we have raised awareness of the abuse women go through in today’s society. We hope to continue to #PressForProgress this International Women’s Day.

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