Welcoming our new Ambassadors!

 

We at JAN Trust are honoured to have four new ambassadors on board: actress Bhavna Limbachia, comedian Shazia Mirza, comedian Mawaan Rizwan and netball player Geva Mentor!

Mawaan started his career on YouTube, where his comedy videos have been viewed over 19 million times. He recently starred in the BAFTA-winning BBC3 drama Murdered By My Father and is shooting a six-part ITV drama produced by Mammoth Screen, whcih aired this year. Mawaan is also becoming a favourite on the alternative comedy scene, with his unique hybrid of absurd stand-up and captivating physicality. He studied clowning with world renowned teacher, Philippe Gaulier, whose alumni include Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter. Later this year, Mawaan will be on a UK stand-up tour with Simon Amstell.

Bhavna’s career has been incredibly versatile. In October 2010 she started her own unique business, designing and selling vintage clothes and accessories. Her media career includes TV Series, such as Doctors, Casualty and more recently for Mount Pleasant by Tiger Aspect Productions. Since 2012 Bhavna has played Alia Khan in BBC One’s Citizen Khan a family-based British sitcom produced by the BBC and created by Adil Ray. It is set in Sparkhill, Birmingham, described by its lead character, Pakistani Muslim Mr. Khan as “the capital of British Pakistan”. Warnings about how she would not have a regular income and almost certainly faced spells of unemployment initially made Bhavna choose a different path altogether. “I still loved being creative so I studied fashion design then went on to do a degree in costume design,” said Preston-born Bhavna, who lives with pals in Manchester when filming. Bhavna landed an agent and has never looked back, with Citizen Khan the show she was best-known for before Corrie came calling. In fact, she revealed she hasn’t had to choose between the two jobs. She has just finished filming the fifth series of the sitcom, fitting in work on that as well as Corrie.

Shazia Mirza is an award winning British stand-up comedian and writer. Shazia’s recent TV appearances include The Jonathan Ross Show (ITV), Graham Norton (BBC), Loose Women (ITV), The Late Late Show (RTE), Top Gear (BBC), and is a regular panellist on The Wright Stuff (Channel 5), The Frank Skinner Show (Absolute Radio), Shazia has also appeared on ‘Celebrity Island with Bear Grylls’on Channel 4. Her latest stand up show, ‘The Kardashians Made Me Do It’ was critically acclaimed all over the UK, US, Sweden, Ireland, and in Paris, and completed four sell out runs at London’s Soho Theatre, and 103 tour dates internationally.

Geva Mentor’s name is always mentioned when netball experts talk about the best defenders in International netball. The England international has played a significant role in building the English teams capacity to match it with world leaders in Australia and New Zealand. Selected for England at just 15 years of age in 2001, Mentor has built a career around athleticism, ability to read the play and a desire to do what’s needed to be the very best. 2017 was another stand out year for Mentor as she lead the Sunshine Coast Lightning to the Inaugural Suncorp Super Netball Premiership win against the newly formed franchise Giants Netball. Geva was thrilled to be voted Captain in an incredibly strong playing group and she lead by example all year with numerous best on court performances. The praise didn’t stop there though, Mentor went on to win the Sunshine Coast Lightning Player of the Year, the Suncorp Super Netball league’s MVP and she was also named in the league’s team of the year in the hotly contested position of GK.

We are delighted to have public figures who are willing to support the vital work that we do empowering women. To see more about what we do visit our website at www.jantrust.org.

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Posted in Uncategorized, Violence Against Women, british, Campaign, Campaigning, women | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

The Media STILL fails to report on far-right terrorism adequately

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The language the mainstream media have used to frame the actions, arrest and trial of terrorist Darren Osborne has not gone far enough to adequately represent the severity of the danger of far-right terrorism. Until the media linguistically frames far-right extremism with the same conviction they are able to with Islamic extremism, society will be in the dark about the truth of this rising threat.

The news of terrorist Darren Osborne’s trial and subsequent jail sentence of a minimum of 43 years has been the focus of countless media headlines in the last few weeks. In the build up to the Finsbury Park terrorist attack, where he used a vehicle as a weapon to kill Muslim worshippers outside a Mosque, it has been reported that he obsessively consumed various far-right online materials. The startling facts relating to the case have emerged during the course of this trial where we have learnt that he was radicalised online in only a matter of weeks; this process of radicalisation allegedly set into motion by watching a documentary about the Rochdale grooming gangs.

Osbornes’ search results indicated frequent visits to far-right sites and social media accounts such as the EDL and Britain First. His hatred of, and desire to kill Muslims was also enflamed by the personal videos and writings of ex EDL leader Tommy Robinson and the leaders of Britain First Jayda Fransen and Paul Golding. It is important to note that this consumption of far-right ideology is reminiscent of the terrorist Thomas Mair, who murdered MP Jo Cox in 2016. It was reported he shouted ‘Britain First’  just before the attack, had links to various far-right groups and collected Nazi memorabilia.

The government’s Prevent strategy now recognises far-right extremism as a significant terrorist threat and out of all individuals who were monitored throughout 2016/2017, almost one-third were reported to have extreme right-wing views. This is a rise of 25% from the previous year and is growing rapidly aided by the anti-Islam rhetoric we can see in the media and wider society.

In light of this, it is imperative that the danger of this terrorist threat is recognised as such and utilising the proper language to report on it and speak about it is vital. As we can see from some of the newspaper headlines below, there is a continued and ubiquitous use of phrases such as ‘lone wolf attacker’, ‘loner’, ‘Muslim attacker’, ‘Van Attack’ ‘Driver’, ‘Man who wanted to kill Muslims’ and ‘Finsbury Park Van Attack’.

Darren Osbourne

The language we use, shapes the meaning of how we perceive and understand the world. If the media, which has the power to exert huge amounts of influence, keeps omitting words such as ‘terrorist’, ‘terrorist attack’ and ‘far-right extremist’ from their headlines and discourse, the general public are not going to conceptualise this type of terrorist threat.

Labelling a terrorist as a ‘Driver’ or something along the lines of ‘Finsbury Park Mosque attacker who drove a van’ reads like the mainstream media is playing an odd game of linguistic gymnastics – the word ‘terrorist’ should be applied and not skirted around. In addition, labelling these terrorists as ‘lone wolves’ completely neglects their tangible links to far-right groups and networks. This type of reporting is doing a disservice to wider society by framing terrorists such as Darren Osborne and Thomas Mair as troubled, lonely, sick men who commit isolated one-off acts of violence. In actuality, these terrorists do not emerge from a vacuum, but from the membership and consumption of dangerous far-right ideologies and elaborate networks of online extremism; this is the common denominator for these extremists – they are not alone.

The way this case has been reported has proved that the same well-worn beating around the bush is still being deployed when the media has to grapple with a white male far-right terrorist. This is the same mainstream media which has no qualms labelling Islamic extremists as terrorists, so the reluctance to do so when it comes to far-right extremism is a problem rooted in a larger conversation of the stereotypes associated with what society thinks of as a ‘terrorist’.

At JAN Trust, we recognise that there have been improvements in this type of reporting over the last few years, however now there is no excuse for not correctly labelling this threat. The media needs to use the appropriate language to discuss far-right extremism and stop linguistically skirting around the issue in order to contribute to an appropriate understanding of the many ways in which extremism can manifest.

Our Web Guardians™ programme tackles the problem of online extremism from both Islamic and far-right angles and continues to successfully pioneer ways in which online radicalisation can be recognised and prevented.

To find out more about the work we do on this issue visit our Web Guardians™ website here: http://webguardians.org/

Posted in Ethnic Minorities, Extremism, Facebook, Far right, Hate Crime, hijab, ISIS, Islam, islamophobia, JAN Trust, London, Online abuse, Online hate, Politics, Prime Minister, Racism, radicalisation, Radicalisaton, Society, Uncategorized, women | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Breaking down the language barrier in immigrant families

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ESOL services are a vital part of successful integration for many immigrant families, with these services in increasing jeopardy, it will be women and children who will suffer the most.   

For first generation immigrants, coming to the UK to build a life and raise a family can contain various complications. The reality is that for many families, there is a language discrepancy between the mother, who may be learning English as a second language, and her English-speaking children. This language barrier can raise significant challenges.

A mother who is not proficient in English may find it hard to engage with many aspects of life here in the U.K, significantly with her child’s schooling and education. A lack of ability and/or confidence in speaking and writing English can mean that there is less engagement; this includes not having the confidence to join discussions and groups in the school environment, not being able to engage in parents’ evenings and not being able to help with homework and understanding the course material. This lack of involvement has the potential to create a barrier between the mother and her child, and in turn this may have a detrimental effect on the child’s development and wellbeing.

In a similar vein, an inability to write in English or send emails means that communications with the child’s school might be non-existent or strained. Even though some schools may have the resources to provide translators, which is not always the case, having the self-assurance and confidence to be able to ask for this in the first place is not a given. Ultimately, the child may have to act as the translator and mediator in these scenarios, which can place a strain on the relationship between mother and child.

This role as translator/mediator also plays out in other facets of daily life with the child having to help their mother to do various tasks such as book doctor’s appointments, make important phone calls and use an English-style computer, phone or tablet for example. From the child’s perspective, there may be a frustration and/or lack of empathy towards their mother for not being able to speak the language properly and to have to always assist them with what they perceive of as basic parts of daily life. A lot of young English people, not necessarily from immigrant backgrounds, light-heartedly complain about how their mothers are useless with their phones or computers and how much patience it requires to take them through each process step by step. When you add a language barrier into the mix along with a generational digital illiteracy; it is easy to see how this exasperates the living situation.

Moreover, the differences between the dominant languages of first generation and second generation immigrants can have a detrimental effect on the mother-child relationship in a slightly different way. The child, whose native language is English, may not be able to have full and complex discussions with their mother about serious topics and issues, such as current world events or ideological concepts. Although the child may also be able to speak and understand their mother’s first language, they may not be fluent in it. Alternatively, they may reply in English as this is more natural to them; or an ad-hoc mix of both languages.

Being unable to have flowing and meaningful discussions with a parent due to a language barrier can lead to a lack of comprehension of the totality of the other person’s personality and interests. This creates a disconnect and can prove to be a huge obstacle in becoming as close with the other person as possible. Without this important foundation, a child may turn to their friends or the internet to have these significant discussions and find out information about complex questions they have; which might not always be reliable.

At JAN Trust, we see first-hand how important it is to bridge this gap. Our award-winning Web Guardians™ programme and our ESOL English language classes work in tandem to build digital literacy and English language skills. In this way, mothers are empowered to join in with important discussions, engage more in society themselves and not rely on others. This increased confidence goes towards establishing better relationships, becoming more involved in their children’s lives, and feeling more integrated and independent.

To find out about our work, please visit our website: www.jantrust.org.

Posted in Education, Ethnic Minorities, girls, JAN Trust, London, Muslim, Muslim women, Sajda Mughal, sewing and fashion, Uncategorized, Web Guardians, women | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Why English is essential for integration into British society

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The English language, as the official language of Britain, is an essential skill for refugees and migrants to fully integrate into British society. The government will be releasing a new integration strategy this year.

Dame Louise Casey was commissioned by the government to review community cohesion at the end of 2016, in a report titled ‘The Casey Review’. The recommendations of this report were in fact based on a visit Dame Louise Casey made to our centre in 2015; the conclusions she came to were influenced by talking to us and meeting our beneficiaries and hearing about their experiences and needs.

Across the UK local communities are becoming divided and minority communities are increasingly segregated from wider social life.

There is a vital need for greater ESOL provision for minority communities, a recommendation which JAN Trust has been at the forefront of advocating for. At JAN Trust we have seen the positive effects of investing in language provision first hand, as a result of our free ESOL classes for marginalised women in the local area.

JAN Trust was formed in 1989, providing a range of classes for minority ethnic women and addressing the issues affecting them by creating a safe environment where service users can voice their concerns freely and openly. From its inception, JAN Trust has recognised that lack of language skills can lead to low self-confidence and isolation, and we have worked tirelessly to challenge this vicious cycle. This has resulted in scores of success stories. We have seen women evolve from isolated individuals with no confidence, to empowered women armed with qualifications, moving on to successful careers or further study. As one JAN Trust user commented:

A big thank you to JAN Trust who has helped me gain new skills and confidence. They supported me in opening my own fashion business which is proving to be successful. JAN Trust has inspired me to continue with my business and support my family out of poverty.”

What is shocking, though, is that the UK budget for ESOL classes has been consistently cut in recent years. Overall ESOL funding has been slashed by almost 50% since 2009.

Over the past three decades, we have helped thousands of women to not only improve their English, but to regain their confidence and improve their job prospects, through skills classes. Women such as Sarla, originally from India, who said: “Before, I had no confidence to speak and write English but now I write and I’m using the computer as well. My daughter has bought me a small computer now.” Or Jurgita, originally from Lithuania, who took one of our tailoring courses and now says: “I would like to do something more with these new skills I have gained – maybe open my own business or get a job.”

Our classes not only enable women on a personal level to further their careers and gain skills. These classes also support social inclusion in a understanding atmosphere and create a sense of empowerment that can allows women to prevent domestic violence, forced marriage, FGM and radicalisation, all of which are among the government’s top priorities.

If you are interested in finding out more about the services we offer, visit http://jantrust.org/

Posted in Ethnic Minorities, Inclusion, London, Representation, Society, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Our Web Guardians™ programme in 2017

Our Web Guardians™ programme for 2017 has finished! JAN Trust would like to share with you the successes of the 2017 programme and tell you why this vital programme needs to continue. The waiting list for the 2018 programme is ever growing! Web Guardians™, largely targeted at Muslim mothers, aims to provide participants with digital literacy skills and the education, skills and confidence to prevent and tackle online extremism.

Many of the women who took part previously had no or lack of internet skills and had no knowledge of the dangers of the internet, despite having young children. After the programme they have promised to utilise the knowledge they have learnt to protect their children from the dangers of the internet. Before the programme some of the women we taught could barely type; let alone complete more complex tasks. With the Web Guardians™ programme we have made these women digitally literate and aware of online extremism along with how they can protect their loved ones. Before the programme began, mothers had no idea of what lurked on the internet nor did they know how the internet can affect their children, this comes as no surprise to us! Since we have been delivering the programme for the last 8 years across the UK, we have noticed the disconnect between parent and child. Empowering these women which ultimately improves their relationship with their children is priceless, and we have witnessed this first hand.

On Thursday the 21st of December 2017, we held a certificate ceremony for women who took part on the programme. JAN Trust awarded the women tablets and certificates for their successful completion of the intensive 6 week Web Guardians™ course. The ceremony took place at our centre in Wood Green.

JAN Trust is incredibly proud of the achievements and progress the women have made over the course of the programme and hope that they will impart their knowledge into their communities and continue to learn. It has been a real pleasure watching the women grow in both confidence and skills. In addition we have received excellent feedback from the women:

It is an eye opener

I like my course. I enjoy my course because I learn so many things.

The internet is dangerous you have to be aware.

I know how the internet can brainwash our children and the dangers. I will tell women and advise them to come.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart

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Catherine West MP, Zina Etheridge CEO of Haringey Council, and Councillor Eugene Ayisi presented certificates to those who completed the programme.

Above is Catherine West, MP for Hornsey and Wood Green, presenting certificates to the women. She spoke highly of our programme:

The graduates of this vital programme work tirelessly day-in-day-out to help our communities. I want to thank them for their efforts in completing this intensive six-week course that will bring tangible benefits to people’s lives and the JAN Trust for all of its consistent hard work.

David Lammy, MP for Tottenham was unable to attend the ceremony but commended the work that we do said:

I would like to congratulate JAN Trust on the important work that they are doing in Tottenham. As the rising tide of extremism and hatred becomes more and more real in our communities, I applaud the work that JAN Trust is doing, particularly in its efforts to tackle Islamophobia.

I would like to offer my warmest congratulations to the graduates of the Web Guardians™ programme, who are working to protect their community from unknowable dangers. I am so sorry not to be there to acknowledge the work that you have done personally, but would like to pass on my appreciation and thanks on behalf of all my constituents for the efforts you have put in to support the community of Haringey.

CEO of Haringey Council Zina Etheridge and Councillor Eugene Ayisi also presented certificates to the users, marking a great occasion to celebrate the women’s achievements for partaking in the course. Some users even stated that they would come back and do the course again, because there is so much information to learn!

Here are some images from the programme and certificate ceremony:

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We hope to be able to expand our programme this year as we are aware that there is a need. We want to continue to educate and empower women across the UK with our Web Guardians™ programme as it continues to grow! If you want to find out more about our programme, you can watch a testimonial from a satisfied participant here and visit our website at www.webguardians.org.

Posted in british, Education, Extremism, Facebook, Far right, google, Hate Crime, Online abuse, Online hate, radicalisation, Radicalisaton, Uncategorized, Web Guardians, women | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Domestic Violence: “Why does she not just leave him?”

Have you ever wondered “why doesn’t she leave him?” Domestic violence is indiscriminate and can affect anyone of any race and class. The Crime Survey of England and Wales (CSEW) states 1.2 million women aged 15-59 have experienced domestic violence in the year ending of March 2017, as well as 713,000 men in that same year.

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There are many forms of domestic violence, the obvious being physical and emotional; it can also extend to sexual, psychological, as well as, financial. Women can also suffer from FGM and forced marriages.

Research by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) in March 2017, found that 46 out of 100 of reported incidents result in arrests and of that an eye watering 32% are considered to be of a violent nature. It can go without saying these figures are underestimated as many individuals will not come forward.

Looking at the victims of domestic violence demographically, BAMER women are significantly more affected. But why is this? In today’s patriarchal society women are often seen as inferior to men, this includes many cultures. For example in the South Asian community, there is a barrier for women to seek help for the fear of tarnishing the family reputation (sharam). They are threatened with the idea of isolation from their children; loss of possessions and the fear of rejection from extended members of family, possibly even the community. For many women in this community they are responsible for upholding their ‘honour’ and will lose face if they tarnish it.

For many refugee and asylum seeking women who experience domestic abuse, there is a language barrier restricting them from seeking help. Many of these vulnerable women who accompany their partner are financially dependent on them, furthermore they are unaware of their legal rights and the claims they can make. For many of the victims that have fled from oppressive and war torn countries, whereby their immigration status is uncertain, therefore asking local authority for safety becomes less likely.

The effect of domestic violence is detrimental, research shows, 3 women a week commit suicide as a result, and 40% of homeless women state domestic violence is a contributing factor to their homelessness. The World Health Organisation states, those that are subject to domestic violence, are twice as likely to experience depression. The estimated cost of providing services and the lost economic output to victims reach a staggering £15.8 billion annually in the UK.

So what can be done? Prevention and reporting domestic violence is a start to stamping it out for good. One of the key elements to tackling domestic violence is education. Holding English language classes for women can bring an array of benefits, they will become more confident in their day to day lives, they will be able to express their feelings with the wider community as well as understand the British laws that surround domestic violence. Women will find it easier at seeking help and advice and more importantly, feel more comfortable too. Educating young people of the effects and what a healthy relationship is, the concept of abuse and consent, it allows them to know what to look for if they are ever in an abusive situation.

Here at JAN Trust, we provide a warm safe environment for women to gain confidence and come together as a community, where they can seek advice and direction on any issues affecting them, including domestic violence. We offer English language classes, held weekly in our centre, which aim to instil confidence and empowerment to women with the greatest care and support provided. If you are affected by what you have read and/or are going through domestic violence, you can contact JAN Trust for help and advice.

Posted in JAN Trust, marriage, Uncategorized, Violence, Violence Against Women, women | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Meghan Markle, the Media and the Monarchy

Following Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s first official visit this month to Nottingham, we at JAN Trust wanted to congratulate the happy couple on their engagement. Furthermore, we have been considering the treatment of Markle by the British media since her and Price Harry’s relationship became public knowledge.

It has been hard to escape the fact that the Markle  has not had an easy time, the media have distributed tasteless articles with sexist and racist undertones at every turn.

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The couple began been dating in 2016 and their engagement was announced on the 27th of November 2017. Their wedding will take place on the 19th of May 2018.

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The ensuing press coverage, following the discovery of their relationship focused on Markle’s mixed heritage. Markle was subject to such harassment and abuse, that Prince Harry released an official statement on the 8th of November 2016 which condemned the hounding of Meghan. In the statement Harry said, “Some of this has been very public – the smear on the front page of a national newspaper; the racial undertones of comment pieces; and the outright sexism and racism of social media trolls and web article comments”. It went on to say that the couple had struggled with “nightly legal battles to keep defamatory stories out of the papers.”

It is easy to see why Prince Harry’s out of the norm statement was necessary. Just a few days earlier, on the 4th of November 2016, The Sun had made Markle the focus of an article headlined, “Harry’s Girl on Pornhub,” which featured clips of Meghan from the hit American drama, Suits. The Sun issued an apology that was published over three months later.

In a Daily Mail article, Rachel Johnson saw fit to comment on the future of Meghan and Harry’s relationship, in the article Johnson stated, “the Windsor’s will thicken their watery, thin blue blood and Spencer pale skin and ginger hair with some rich and exotic DNA.” She went onto describe Markle’s mother as “a dreadlocked African-American lady from the wrong side of the tracks”. Johnson, also felt it was appropriate to inform the public that Markle is not, “official Wife Material”, and had failed her, “Mum Test”. Another Daily Mail headline read, “Harry’s girl is (almost) straight outta Compton”, referencing the hit film Straight Outta Compton based in Los Angeles, where Markle is from and where her mother currently lives.

The Mail Online also came under fire when they posted pictures of the couple on a private beach in Jamaica back in July. The images were later removed, after a ruling by Ipso, that branded the publishing of these images as an, “unjustified intrusion”.

The Prince’s disappointment in the vulgarity of the British press’s obsession with Markle’s race appears to be reflected by many, “I feel like racism in the U.K. is pretty insidious,” said Paula Akpan, a co-founder of Black Girl Festival.

Whilst some may believe that their impending matrimony is a big step for women of colour and those of mixed heritage, it is clear that racism and malicious press behaviour are   still very much a part of British society.

Hopefully, the more important aspects of Markle’s life will be of more interest to those intrigued by the humanitarian, and gender equality campaigner. Markle is not only an actress about to wed a British royal but also an entrepreneur, UN women’s advocate and an ambassador for Canada’s World Vision Water campaign, for which she has spent time visiting Rwanda.

A satirical article highlighting the irony of the mainstream media in largely failing to recognise Markle’s achievements outside of getting engaged to Prince Harry was written by NewsThump. This article highlights the irony of many of the articles published about the couple.

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We at JAN Trust work to support and empower marginalised women, particularly BAME women as well as fight against racism and hate crime. We sincerely hope that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have a harassment free future devoid of hurtful and stressful dealings with the media.

Posted in Active citizenship, Advocacy, Campaign, Campaigning, discrimination, Diversity, Ethnic Minorities, JAN Trust, London, marriage, Online abuse, Racism, Representation, Society, The Sun, Uncategorized, women | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Implicit Bias: The insidious nature of discrimination

66% of the British population, who have taken the Harvard Implicit Association Test (IAT), were found to have an underlying preference towards white people. What is implicit bias and how can it be combatted?

For the most part, people do not like to think that they judge or stereotype other social groups based on signifiers such as gender, race or religious identity. ‘I don’t see colour’ or ‘I don’t see race’ are popular refrains, which taken at face value seem well intentioned. However, the reality is that we all have internalised prejudices or stereotypes that we may not even realise. So, you may believe you ‘don’t see race’ or ‘don’t see colour’, yet might have been in the large group of people whose first thought when this interview went viral was that this professor’s wife was actually his nanny. This is just one example of collective stereotyping and it should make us stop and think about the effects and roots of these knee-jerk assumptions.

Unconscious or implicit bias refers to underlying attitudes or stereotypes that affect the way we relate or act towards certain social groups as a society. Studies have shown that our biases are formed throughout our lives dependent on society, culture and personal experiences that manifest in quick, reflex-like judgements, of others we form subconsciously. It is important to understand that these biases usually go undetected within the individual, who may otherwise perceive themselves as extremely progressive and forward thinking. Unfortunately, we acquire these thought processes unintentionally and despite what we may want to believe; they are deep-seated, ubiquitous and seep into all aspects of life including our personal relationships and the workplace.

This was highlighted in the recent Channel 4 documentary ‘Is Love Racist? The Dating Game’, where participants were unaware they were taking part in a dating experiment to ascertain whether their sexual ‘preferences’ were actually informed by an internalised racial bias. The documentary, presented by sociologist Emma Dabiri, found that entire racial groups were dismissed based on the individuals’ dating preferences. In fact, 35% of white people said they would never date a black person, compared with only 10% of black people saying the same about white people. One white participant in the documentary even declined swiping right to a man of colour stating ‘his nostrils are too flared’.

Although many people believe that these preferences, such as an inclination towards unflared nostrils, are just arbitrary personal preferences; it is important to ask ourselves how our personal preferences are formed. Once we accept the reality of implicit bias, it is easy to see that although not many people would believe that they are being actively racist, their ‘preferences’ aren’t just innocent and unique to them – they are actually informed by internalised societal biases unbeknownst to the individual.

This also plays out in other aspects of our lives with underlying preferences seeping into the work place. Before applicants can even enter the work force, those with minority ethic-sounding names on their CV are statistically less likely to get an interview. The BBC found that an applicant with a traditionally English name (Adam) was three times more likely to get a job interview than a candidate with a Muslim sounding name (Mohamed).

Unsurprisingly, it is visibly Muslim women wearing hijabs that face the most discrimination. As the most economically disadvantaged group in British society, the type of implicit bias they face is threefold; being Muslim, female and from an ethnic minority. This includes name discrimination in the same vein as the Adam/Mohamed test, but also underlying attitudes towards their religious dress and interview questions containing pre-conceived stereotypes of a Muslim woman’s primary role within the home. In this way, employers are making knee-jerk decisions which are informed by internalised biases that they are completely unaware of. It is important to recognise this in order to put a stop to the detrimental and tangible barriers it builds for minority groups which undermines freedom of opportunity.

Combatting biases you aren’t necessarily aware of is a difficult task, however major organisations are now realising the truth about unconscious bias and are taking steps to educate and lessen its impact. Google and Facebook now include implicit bias workshops into employee training programs to encourage diversity and equal opportunity. Moreover, many universities and work places have started enacting ‘name-blind recruitment’, anonymous hand ins and name-blind UCAS applications to try and eradicate the harmful effects of name discrimination and create a more level playing field.

On an individual basis, awareness of the reality of this issue is an important first step and actively trying to unpick your learned assumptions and stereotypes is a vital and deliberate choice for equality. You can take an Implicit Association Test (IAT) with Harvard’s Project Implicit® and see if you have any biases you don’t know about here.

At JAN Trust we are aware of employment discrimination and the effect it has on women from minority communities. We actively try and lessen the impact of these barriers through our services and programmes including CV and English language support to educate, build confidence and encourage career aspirations and opportunities. We believe in and work towards a society where marginalised women from minority communities have freedom of opportunity and the representation they deserve.

Posted in discrimination, Education, Ethnic Minorities, girls, Islam, islamophobia, Racism, Society, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

An Inhuman Attack: The Crisis of Rohingya Women

The Rohingya Muslims are a minority community within Myanmar who have long been persecuted through the denial of citizenship and basic human rights. In recent months, Myanmar’s military have increased the intensity of their ‘clearance operations’, resulting in hundreds of thousands of Rohingya fleeing their homes. Although all those who have fled are seriously affected, this post will explore the specific challenges faced by the Rohingya women within these communities.

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The Rohingya refugees fleeing from Myanmar into Bangladesh is thought to be the world’s fastest-growing refugee humanitarian crisis, with over 625,000 having crossed the border since August.

Approximately 51 percent of the displaced population are women and girls, and within the rising emergency many face unique challenges because of their gender. They are disproportionately affected by sexual violence and assault, limited access to healthcare, and the underground sex trade.

UN doctors working in refugee camps have reported hundreds of cases of rape and sexual assault since October, with a vast number being perpetrated by members of the Burmese security forces and soldiers from the army. Evidence of particularly aggressive attacks has been found by medical officers during physical examinations of the women, with one officer stating, “We found skin marks, it showed a very forceful attack, an inhuman attack”. Although the Burmese authorities have stated they will investigate any claims of rape, many Myanmar officials have dismissed the allegations of abuse as militant propaganda. Within a crisis such as this the limited resources tend to focus on urgent care in the aftermath: a situation report from aid agencies found that 350 people had required ‘life-saving care’ as the result of gender-based violence, and yet this report made no mention of the perpetrators. The lack of widely-known reporting mechanisms creates an inability to guarantee justice, and combined with the shame associated with rape in the conservative Rohingya society, it creates an environment which magnifies the emotional trauma experienced by these women, in addition to the physical. In April, a UN report said sexual violence was “employed systematically to humiliate and terrorise” the Rohingya people. In short, weaponised rape and sexual assault are used against the women and their community to terrorise them into leaving their homes.

Another factor which disproportionately affects female refugees is access to healthcare, which comes in the form of sparse and overstretched humanitarian relief services. The United Nations Population Fund estimates nearly 150,000 of these women are of reproductive age, and 24,000 are pregnant and lactating. These women have unique healthcare needs and require specific maternal support, which is more often than not unavailable. Some have had no choice but to give birth at the roadside. Furthermore, the continued increase in the number of refugees mean that the camps lack sufficient numbers of latrines and hygiene facilities. As a result, men and women are forced to share toilets without basic measures such as gender segregation. These are often badly lit and unprotected, meaning sexual exploitation can coincide with dangerous levels of hygiene.

Additionally, the scarcity of food and water is forcing many women to turn to desperate measures such as prostitution in order to feed themselves and their families. ‘Recruiters’ target vulnerable women and girls, including newcomers, with the promise of money or support. As a red cross worker stated; “If aid agencies can’t manage to provide people with their basic needs, the risk of trafficking grows”. Although support services for women trapped in such circumstances do exist within some refugee camps, many women are unaware of their existence. This reflects a wider problem in which female refugees, many of whom are heads of households, aren’t informed of how to access health, aid, and support services within their community.

Despite this turmoil, there exists a glimmer of hope and resilience, among women. Women are emerging as front line support, leading other women and connecting one another to aid and support. This support is essential for women, a space where they are able to share stories, care for one and other and receive any assistance they may need. Crises can often highlight the importance of women, having an active role in society. At JAN Trust we hope that the Rohingya stop suffering oppression because of their religion, and they get the help from the international community they need in order to resettle.

Posted in Active citizenship, discrimination, Diversity, Ethnic Minorities, Extremism, Hate Crime, hijab, Inclusion, International, International Affairs, Islam, islamophobia, JAN Trust, Muslim, Muslim dress, Muslim women, Politics, Racism, Society, Terrorism, Uncategorized, Violence, Violence Against Women, women | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Donald Trump retweets British far-right anti-Muslim videos – ‘abhorrent and a threat to our society’

On Wednesday the 29th of November, the President of the United States Donald Trump retweeted a series of anti-Muslim videos, posted by the deputy leader of the far-right group Britain First, Jayda Fransen. Frasen is currently facing charges for causing religiously aggravated harassment.

Britain First is an Islamophobic group, founded in 2011, by former members of the British National Party (BNP). Regrettably the group has a large presence on social media, despite having made little impact politically, they still regularly uses social media to disseminate anti-Islamic material. Viewers of their content are under no illusion as to the groups and Fransens’s extreme far-right Islamophobic views, as she does little to disguise these.

Before murdering Jo Cox in 2016, extreme right-wing terrorist Tommy Mair shouted “Britain First”. Therefore the President of the United States of America allowing far-right groups a platform to impart their views is a dangerous tactic that normalises far-right extremist views.

Many have called for Trumps’ invitation for a state visit to be withdrawn. Owen Jones, Guardian Columnist, posted on Twitter:

The reaction of many, has rightly been, sheer outrage, with many turning to twitter to share their indignation at this despicable act. In doing this, Trump successfully normalises hatred, and threatens to legitimise his own hateful values in the UK. Brendan Cox, argued in a piece for The Guardian, that Trump’s strategy is to ‘..legitimise those driven by hatred. It makes them think that their views are mainstream,…and makes those already driven by hatred more likely to act on it.’

In the early hours of Thursday, in a public outburst, Trump tweeted May:

This again, fuelled many to take to twitter to condemn Trump’s actions. It has been suggested that given the number of mass shootings that take place on a daily basis in the US that Trump should perhaps concentrate on his own domestic affairs.

Another disturbing impact of Trumps’ retweets is the increased following of Fransen on twitter, according to data shared by, Hope Not Hate, who have been monitoring the following of far-right groups, say that her following has exploded on social media, in March she had 13 000 followers, by November this has reached 54 000, and today it has reach in excess of 80 000. This is truly worrying.

May has responded stating that “retweeting Britain First was the wrong thing to do”. It looks likely that Trump’s state visit will be postponed again over fears of mass, widespread protest. Amber Rudd, Home Secretary, has told MPs to “look at the bigger picture” regarding the relationship between the UK and US, and the potential impacts of a breakdown of that relationship.

Many Labour MPs have disputed this with Labour MP Paul Flynn said Trump should be “charged with inciting racial hatred” if he came to the UK.

Trump’s retweeting of Britain First’s inflammatory tweets brings a vast threat to society and furthers his agenda to create rhetoric of hate and a divided society. As a country we must unite and stand up against such unjust and abhorrent behaviour.

Posted in british, Extremism, Facebook, Far right, Inclusion, International, Islam, islamophobia, JAN Trust, London, Muslim, Online abuse, Online hate, Politics, Prime Minister, Racism, radicalisation, Radicalisaton, Society, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , ,