16 days: IKWRO

Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation (IKWRO)ikwro puzzle piece

Protecting and promoting the rights of Middle Eastern, North African and Afghan women and girls who are at risk of violence and abuse

We ACT because they… provide advice and support to women to escape the threat of ‘honour’ based violence, forced marriage, child marriage, female genital mutilation (FGM) and domestic violence and to promote their rights.

Founded in 2002, built on the belief that ‘one person can make changes wherever you are’, IKWRO initially responded to the need for culturally specific support, advocacy and counselling for women from Iranian and Kurdish communities. And in response to need, IKWRO has expanded to represent women and girls from all Middle Eastern, North African and Afghan communities, primarily in the UK.

IKWRO provides direct services for women and girls, including advocacy, training, and professional counselling. They also provide advice and support to professionals from bodies such as the police, social services, and schools to help them to understand issues affecting minority ethnic women. In addition, IKWRO campaign for better laws and their effective implementation, as well as for appropriate resources to uphold the rights of women and girls and ensure their safety.

IKWRO works closely with communities, running training groups with women and girls in which the participants explore issues such as their human rights and entitlements. Not only is it a chance for women and girls to meet others who share similar experiences, but it also helps build up their confidence and skills.

IKWRO have long since worked and campaigned on issues such as “honour” based violence, forced marriage, child marriage and FGM. One of their first campaigns was Remember Heshu through which they demanded justice for Heshu Yones, a 16 year old Kurdish girl who was murdered by her father for dating a man outside her own culture. IKWRO’s campaign helped secure the conviction of her father in what was the first UK murder case to be recognised as an “honour” killing. This was followed by IKWRO’s Justice For Banaz campaign, which led to the first extradition from Iraq preventing two of Banaz’s rapists and murderers from escaping life sentences.

IKWRO’s current Right To Know campaign calls on the government to make every school “honour” based violence, forced marriage and FGM safe through a holistic approach by training all school staff, having appropriate safeguarding procedures in place, and educating young people about their right not to face these abuses and where they can access help.

Specific articles of the Istanbul Convention call for the criminalisation of acts such as those campaigned on by IKWRO [Articles 37, 38, and 39]. Furthermore the spirit of the Convention ensures that  in criminal proceedings ‘culture, custom, religion, tradition or so-called “honour” shall not be regarded as justification for such acts. This covers, in particular, claims that the victim has transgressed cultural, religious, social or traditional norms or customs of appropriate behaviour ’[Article 42].

IKWRO operates as a specialist service for women experiencing abuse, it provides a unique element of support for women from certain backgrounds which makes it all the more powerful for those women accessing it. Specialist services are currently at more risk from the adverse effects of the reduced funding across local and national government.

The Istanbul Convention would protect specialist services like IKWRO [Article 22]. It would also guarantee the education in schools and training for professionals on different forms of violence against women, including “honour” based violence, forced marriage and FGM [Articles 14, 15].

Ensuring women are protected from violence from members of their own families and communities is essential to women living safe lives. IKWRO work to ensure this happens and the Istanbul Convention can help them in this mission.

ACT: Sign the Petition and protect services like IKWRO

SUPPORT: Donate to IKWRO and support their Right to Know campaign.

You can also keep up to date with them on social media on Twitter (@IKWRO) and Facebook.