16 days: Southall Black Sisters

southall black sisters puzzle pieceSpecialist BME services provide culturally sensitive support in community settings.

We ACT because they … provide a range of advice and support services to enable black and minority women to gain the knowledge and confidence they need to assert their human rights.

Southall Black Sisters is an advocacy and campaigning organization that provides vital support and awareness around gender based violence for black and minority ethnic women (BME).

They provide family, housing and immigration legal advice surgeries, domestic violence outreach support to women from BME communities and the ‘No Recourse Fund’. The Fund assists women with an insecure immigration status who are experiencing abuse, by helping to cover their housing and essential living costs. This type of support is vital for women experiencing gender-based violence.

Campaigning is a significant aspect of the work of Southall Black Sisters. They have had many successful awareness raising and legal campaigns over the years, such as the ‘No Recourse to Public Funds’ (NRPF) campaign. If leaving a relationship, a woman on a spousal visa would have been expected to rely on her partner financially or support herself without any assistance from the state. However, as we are well aware, financial abuse is common and the NRPF rule left women fleeing abusive relationships increasingly vulnerable, and for many it meant leaving was not an option. The campaign led to changes which allow for women experiencing abuse to flee and be eligible for support from the state.

Southall Black Sisters have also campaigned on Forced Marriage and are know for the ‘Zoora Shah’ campaign. Article 13 of the Istanbul Convention requires an “increased awareness and understanding among the general public of the different manifestations of all forms of violence covered by the scope of this Convention”.

Article 22 of the Istanbul Convention would also guarantee the continued provision of specialist services, such as those provided by Southall Black Sisters, in the violence against women and girls sector.

It is this vital and determined campaigning and advocacy work by Southall Black Sisters which inspires us to keep petitioning the UK government to ratify the Istanbul Convention to protect this organisation. The work the convention calls for already exists in many areas of society and must be upheld as a beacon of good practice and protected. This Istanbul Convention can do this.

ACT: Sign the petition to ratify the Istanbul Convention and protect the vital work of Southall Black Sisters and others.

Support: Southall Black Sisters