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.
- 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.