LAWRS Shines Light on Honour-Based Violence

 

The testimony of a Latin American woman survivor of harmful practices is informing local council plans to improve women’s services in Haringey.

The Latin American Women’s Rights Service has highlighted the need to improve government responses to honour-based violence against women from all backgrounds at a steering group in Haringey Council.

LAWRS cited the experience of one of our clients, a Latin American woman, who was subjected to honour-based violence that remains unrecognised by many agencies and the authorities. Her case demonstrated that women who have suffered emotional and physical abuse in this way are not always linked to any specific culture or religion.

The client, known as Miss A, first contacted LAWRS when she was attempting to leave a violent relationship. She left her partner, and in the process began a new relationship with another member of her ex-partners’ family. Miss A was threatened by various members of that family who managed to find her new address and abducted her son in revenge.

The family then made allegations against her, saying that she was a bad mother, and an immoral person. Miss A dealt with a variety of agencies, but, struggling to communicate in English, she felt judged, discriminated against and unheard. She remains unrecognised as a victim and as a result of this poor response, her son is at risk of abuse from her previous partner and his family.

LAWRS violence against women and girls advocacy and prevention coordinator, Rosa Ruiz, stated during the practitioners forum meeting: “At no point has anyone suggested or mentioned that she is a victim of honour-based violence, because as a Latin American, our community is not linked with [these] harmful practices.”

Harmful traditional practices are forms of violence which have been committed primarily against women and girls in communities and societies for so long that they are considered, or presented by perpetrators, as part of accepted cultural practice. In fact, honour based violence can happen to anyone, no matter what your community, religion or background is.

Following the practitioners forum, Hanringey Council published a report suggesting that the local agencies need to improve their responses to honour-based violence cases by improving training, multi-agency working, and by working more closely with families and local communities.

It was also acknowledged that this training is necessary to help professionals, families and community groups better identify and support victims. It concludes that agencies must work closely with voluntary organisations like LAWRS, and that a better picture of the prevalence of harmful practices needs to be drawn locally.

“Harmful Practices are too often labelled as a ‘cultural or religious’ issue, but it is important to recognise the universal nature of abuse and that it is not limited to one group or community,” according to the report.

“Haringey has identified the need for better understanding, identification and support for victims of harmful practices, and we are committed to continue our engagement so that we can support agencies in taking meaningful steps,” said LAWRS director Lucila Granada.

“We hope that over time, women like Miss A can receive the recognition and assistance they need early on, so that women and their children are kept safe from abuse and harm.”

Read the Haringey VAWG Harmful Practice Practitioners Forum Report.

 

 

Photo by Alessio Lin

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