International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and 16 Days of Activism

25th November marks the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and the start of 16 days of activism. On 24th November the Office for National Statistics released figures on Domestic Abuse related crimes in England and Wales for the year ending March 2021. They revealed that domestic abuse cases increased by 6% compared to the year before. 7% of women aged 16 to 74 experienced Domestic Abuse, 3% experienced sexual assault or attempted sexual assault and 5% experienced stalking.

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. 

Client Story

Client X and her children were referred to us by one of our partners in April 2021. She had experienced physical, emotional and financial abuse and was living with her husband at the time of the referral. She was not allowed to leave the house and a family member would monitor her every move and report back to her husband. She was only allowed to leave home to visit the GP and it was via the GP that she was referred to our partner. She was experiencing a lot of physical pain, including severe headaches, and was living in fear for herself and her children. Her support worker carried out her initial assessment and a risk assessment. As she was assessed as high risk the support worker helped her to arrange a plan for her to leave as safely as possible. The client and her children were forced to leave with only the clothes they were wearing and met our support worker at a local police station. Our support worker stayed with her all day to liaise with the police and social services and made sure that she had a safe place to stay that night. The following day social services agreed to place her and her children in temporary accommodation. Maa Shanti provided her with grocery vouchers to make sure the family had enough to eat for a few days whilst they were waiting for subsistence payments from social services. Whilst they have been made safe, we have continued to work with them to support the children’s needs, liaise with social services and find a solicitor to help her with her immigration application.

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.

#16days #16daysofactivism2021 #MaaShanti #DomesticAbuse #SouthAsianCommunity #orangetheworld