Women’s march to Scotland Yard to mark the anniversary of the murders of Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry and to protest misogyny and racism within the Metropolitan Police.

Published: 9 June 2022

We stand with protestors who marched from the place where Nicole and Bibaa were murdered and subsequently photographed by Metropolitan Police officers in Fryent Park, to New Scotland Yard on 7th June. Leader of the Women’s Equality Party, Mandu Reid said “We are carrying this clock for ten miles to remind everyone that in the sixteen hours after Nicole and Bibaa’s friends and family called the police, no one came to help. And that in the two years since they were murdered, nothing has changed. We are calling time on misogyny and racism in policing.

Last year Maa Shanti issued a statement in response to inaction by the Metropolitan Police appealing to them to take meaningful steps for change after the murder of Sarah Everard by serving police officer Wayne Couzins. The same year Sabina Nessa was murdered in a park in Kidbrooke. Her killer was arrested at his home address 9 days later. These tragic cases highlight the levels of violence against women and girls in the UK, the fears that women experience day and night and the lack of trust between women, particularly women from Black Asian Minority Ethnic Refugee (BAMER) communities, and the Metropolitan Police.

Since then, an enquiry was announced by the Home Secretary Priti Patel, the Commissioner Cressida Dick resigned, the High Court ruled that police officers breached the right of organisers of the Sarah Everard vigil and two serving police officers received prison sentences for taking and sharing inhumane pictures of Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry. Women are fearful at home, at work, when we are travelling, with friends and family, looking after our children. Safe spaces are far from readily available. Where can we go if we are fearful? Who can we trust if we can’t go to the police? What can women do if they are not born in this country and don’t speak English?

There is a huge gap between where the Metropolitan Police believes it needs to be and what women and, especially women from BAMER, communities need. Women do not feel reassured in any way. The level of misogyny, racism and cruelty which is a culture within the Metropolitan Police needs to be addressed urgently. The level of violence against women and girls is rising. The number of police recorded domestic abuse related crimes increased by 6% in the year ending March 2021. (ONS. Nov 2021) Women and their children are in desperate need of support. Women’s Aid Domestic Abuse Report 2022 analysed a sample of over 34,000 women survivors and found that 60% of users in community-based services had children and 6% were pregnant. Almost a third of service users who were not British nationals had no access to public funds.

For the year ending March 2022 we helped 90% of clients with benefits and 85% were supported to access new benefits, 45% were helped to deal with or manage debt, 100% received emotional support and 100% were made safe. Women from the South Asian Community are facing multiple disadvantages including discrimination and are fearful of seeking support from statutory agencies including the police. Women are faced with the horrendous decision of staying with a perpetrator and face ongoing abuse, or being disowned by family, possible deportation, destitution, discrimination, and reprisal. These cases can be some of the highest risk due to so called honour-based abuse, forced marriage and modern slavery, but women are afraid to seek help because they are so fearful of being criminalised, disbelieved and revictimized.

The challenges our clients face should not be theirs to bear alone. We work with families every day, but organisations like ours and our partners can only find the best outcomes if there is a fair and safe system in place. We continue to stand with our allies in the feminist, Black Asian Minority Ethnic Refugee, not for profit, community sector to demand change for our clients and their families now. Not in 6 months, a year, or a decade, but now. It is long overdue.

We demand

  • a root and branch review of the Metropolitan Police Service and their culture of misogyny and racism with a clear aim to reform,
  • equal protection and support for migrant women under the Domestic Abuse Act,
  • recognition and support for the need for specialist by-and-for organisations as part domestic abuse strategy across the UK
  • direct consultation with communities, especially the South Asian community, on how to improve pathways and support to safety and culturally specific mental health interventions.

The South Asian population in England and Wales is just under 4 million people which is 7% of the total population. The women from this community have a right to be heard.


International Women’s Day 2022.

Published: 3 Mar 2022

Every year International Women’s Day is celebrated across the world on 8th March. It brings women together to celebrate our shared achievements, challenges, history, intersectionality, inspirations, communities and more. We stand in solidarity with all women’s organisations fighting for equality, justice, change and empowerment. Our community of South Asian women share a rich and diverse history, especially in the UK where communities of Indian, Pakistani, and Bangladeshi origin have lived for generations. This year we mark International Women’s Day by sharing some insight into the challenges South Asian women experiencing domestic abuse face as some of the most marginalised members of society.

In 2022 equality has not been achieved anywhere in any country in the world. Being a woman means fewer opportunities and freedoms wherever you live. Women are more likely to attempt suicide and self-harm which can be linked to poverty, deprivation, psychological distress, and physical and sexual abuse. Women from socially and economically disadvantaged backgrounds and women from Black, Asian Minority Ethnic Refugee (BAMER) backgrounds are more likely to have poor mental health (1). There is also a gap in service provision for women from BAMER backgrounds which contributes to poorer outcomes for women (2). For Asian women, the cultural pressures of remaining in an abusive relationship and being seen by the community as a dutiful wife often create significant further barriers for women trying to escape (3).

Social isolation, economic deprivation and housing remain significant issues of concern for our beneficiaries. Many of our clients tell us about the difficulties they have with housing. Over 95% are living in social housing, many in temporary accommodation and often in overcrowded, unsuitable, or poor standards of accommodation. The majority are also living on benefits and want to get into work or volunteer. Many have come to the UK from India, Pakistan or Bangladesh within the last 10 years and have never been in employment. Women are looking for support from us and each other.

In the face of all of this, women continue to come together and find empowerment. Having endured years of abuse, women move forward and thrive. There is empowerment in shared experience, joy in learning, pride in achievement and fulfilment from family and friends. Empowerment is not something that is imposed, it is shared. In our society, women, especially BAMER women and migrant women, can be minimised, marginalised, ignored, and undervalued. We recognise all the work that has been done by generations before us, here in the UK and across the world and remember our sisters in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. This International Women’s Day we celebrate the empowerment of women and the work done every day to inspire meaningful change.

We invite you to stand with us in recognition of the work that has been done and the challenges that lie ahead to improve the lives of women in our communities across London. You can support us by raising awareness of our services, following us on Twitter, making a donation or simply telling someone you know about us if you think we could help.

#InternationalWomensDay2022 #IWD2022 #empowerment #SouthAsianCommunity

1 (Holmshaw & Hillier, 2000) 2 (Sanderson, 2008) 3 (Siddiqui, 2003)

International Elimination of Violence Against Women 2021

Published: 25 Nov 2021

What we’ve seen

At Maa Shanti we have found that our referral numbers are increasing having worked with over 120 women since April 2021 compared to 140 for the whole of the year before. Our attendance levels at our activities are at an all-time high with 721 attendances since April compared to 890 for the whole of 2020/21. Our community are also describing more complex and challenging circumstances. We are working with more mums who have been through human trafficking and modern slavery; forced into hiding by multiple perpetrators due to Honour Based Abuse, experiencing physical, sexual, financial and psychological abuse. Women are fearful of racism, deportation, homelessness and worse as many have no recourse to public funds nor leave to remain in the UK. Women who do not speak English have been brought to the UK to marry men they have never met. They experience ongoing abuse and are made to feel that they have no rights and are not important as we work harder and harder to advocate for them and argue that their support needs are met.

What we do

We will continue to advocate for our clients, especially at a time when domestic abuse cases are on the rise, racist abuse is becoming more prevalent and resources are ever more scarce. We provide advocacy for clients in Punjabi, Urdu, Hindi and Bengali. On average women receive ongoing 1-1 advocacy support for 6-12 months whilst concurrently attending activities on a regular basis which continues for an average of 2-3 years. We keep cases open, regardless of the level of risk, but we continue to see an increase in more complex and higher risk cases. Between April and September we carried out initial assessments with 51 clients and provided 742 advocacy sessions to 73 women, 18 (25%) of them have experienced an improvement in their economic wellbeing, 57 (78%) have increased independence and knowledge and 70 (96%) describe an improvement in their confidence and well-being alongside a reduction in social isolation.

Take action

We invite you to stand with us in our work to eliminate violence against women. You can support us by raising awareness of our services, following us on Twitter, making a donation or simply telling someone you know about us if you think we could help. Our work continues now and beyond 16 days of activism.