A new campaign from national charity, Savera UK, will begin with a poster – designed by Savera youth participants and clients – being shared on the M62 screen at the gateway into the city on the day that would have been Warrington teenager Shafilea Ahmed’s 33rd birthday.
Shafilea was murdered by her parents in 2003 after she refused a forced marriage. The A level student’s body was discovered in the Lake District five months after she disappeared from the family home, but it took several years to bring her killers to justice.
The poster carries the striking statistic that 3,000 incidents of honour crime are reported each year with a bold call to action – “Speak Out”. The image, along with others created by working groups facilitated by Liverpool-based branding agency, Nonconform, will also be shared on social media with #ImSpeakingOut, to extend the reach of the campaign.
The message is designed to empower those who are at risk of ‘honour’-based violence and abuse (HBA), as well as those concerned that someone is under threat of the practices to report instances. The campaign also seeks to challenge attitudes towards domestic abuse and other harmful practices like forced marriage and female genital mutilation, as well as raising awareness of the practice and signs to people outside of those communities.
The charity will also be holding an event on Tuesday 16 July (11am – 5:30pm) on Church Street in Liverpool city centre, which will be opened at 11:30am by Asilinn O’Dwyer from Savera UK. Aislinn will lead a minute’s silence for Shafelia after reading of the poem Remembering Shafilea, before speeches from Councillor Maria Toolan, Detective Superintendent, Dave McCaughrean from Merseyside Police and Afrah Qassim, Founder of Savera UK.
There will be a number of activities and opportunities for discussion throughout the day, including drumming performances by Friends of Savera (11:15am and 5pm), poetry and positive messages read by Kiara Mohammed (12 noon), a survivor of FGM and the reading of another survivor story (12:15pm).
There will also be performances of a special piece entitled Break the Silence led by Joanne Tremarco (12:30pm and 3:30pm) a dance performance by Movema with audience engagement (1:30pm) and a dance performance by Maxine Brown (2:30pm and 4pm).
Savera UK and Merseyside Police will also join forces on Wednesday 17 July at Liverpool John Lennon Airport, where Merseyside Police will have a stand and will be engaging with passengers and handing out leaflets to raise awareness of the issue of HBA. There will also be an additional performance of Break the Silence.
Internationally, very little is known about the true extent of honour based abuse, but estimates suggest there are 5,000 ‘honour’ killings internationally each year and 12 killings per year in the United Kingdom.
Founder of Savera UK, Afrah Qassim, said: “Our new campaign is designed not just to raise awareness of ‘honour’-based abuse and violence, along with other harmful practices, it seeks to empower people to speak out, either for themselves or others, particularly those from affected communities.
“It also encourages people outside of these communities to recognise these practices and provide them with the knowledge required to report them effectively.”
Detective Superintendent David McCaughrean, from Merseyside Police, said: “By working with Savera UK, we aim to raise awareness of ‘honour’-based abuse in the wider public, whist empowering victims to speak to us, knowing that our dedicated officers can and will support them and bring offenders to justice.
“Both events, on the 16th July in Liverpool and 17th July at the airport, are just a flavour of our ongoing partnership with Savera UK and we hope as many people as possible are able to come along and talk to us. The more we raise awareness, the easier it is to spot the signs and help vulnerable people who may be too frightened to reach out to us themselves.
“If you think you are a victim of this horrible crime, or know someone at risk, please speak up and we’ll help – report either directly to us @MerPolCC or by calling 101 or contact @CrimestoppersUK anonymously.
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