MEWSo aims to defend and protect women from violence both at home and in the wider community
Family Life Celebration Event

7th July 2018
The Middle Eastern Women and Society organisation, based in Islington, and the University of Greenwich have partnered to run a project researching and raising awareness about polygamy in London. The project aims to bring polygamy to the attention of the public and government in order to uphold the existing ban on polygamy and promote women’s rights within the community. According to the Home Office there are approximately 25,000 women registered as second wives and the Polygamy Matters campaign aims to end the practice of polygamy in the UK and protect women and children.

Halaleh Taheri, Director of MEWSo and lead campaigner of Polygamy Matters, said in her speech: “Polygamy is unequal and against women’s rights and we should protect women and children because they deserve a better life. It’s important to work with politicians and decision makers to highlight the issue of polygamy to the wider society in order to change attitudes and stop the practise of polygamy. Education is an important tool for the campaign and all these changes will not happen without the support of the Government”.

The partnered organisations have so far run a pilot project speaking openly about polygamy with women trapped in these relationships. Elena Vacchelli, Greenwich University, who ran the workshops and women reported the abuse and domestic violence they suffered in such relationships as well as the emotional and financial sufferings of their children.

The Family Life Celebration marked the end of the pilot project and celebrated the lives of the women who were brave enough to speak out about life in a polygamous relationship. The event introduced the Polygamy Matters campaign to the public and gave the audience the opportunity to engage with and support the campaign. Many people gave their option and showed solidarity in tackling the issue. The next stage will be growing the campaign as well as reaching and changing the lives of more women affected by polygamy.

If you are interested in joining the Polygamy Matters campaign or know someone affected by polygamy, please contact Halaleh Taheri on 07958145666 or

"I will fight for what I believe in until I drop dead. And that's what keeps you alive."
Barbara Castle - British Politician and architect of the Equal Pay Act

Barbara Castle was a british politician and was a trail-blazer for women in politics but, as the architect of the Equal Pay Act, she also had an impact on every single woman, regardless of where you were from.

News at MEWSo
MEWSo has moved to Westminster Permanently!!
Over the last year MEWSo has been supporting more and more BAMER women in Westminster. We can now proudly say that we have secured a satellite office in Church Street Ward, Westminster.
Westminster Office Address:
Church Street Neighbourhood Centre
Cherwell House
Penfold Street

We are available at this office on Monday and Wednesday between 10am - 5pm.

We have managed to support over 250 service users in the Westminster area over the last year thanks to the support and funding of Westminster Council and Westminster Adult Education Service. We hope to change the lives of many more BAMER women over the next year. 
MEWSo Services
Current Services

One-to-One Counselling
Location: Westminster and Islington
Languages: Arabic, Farsi, Dari, Kurdish and English
By appointment only
10 Free Sessions

Time: 11:00am-12:30pm
Location: Church Street, Westminster
Activities: Group counselling by appointment

Only available for residents of Westminster
Start Date: Every Monday
Time: 10:00am-12:00pm
Location: Derry House, Church Street, Westminster
Refreshments and childcare provided

Advice and Guidance
One-to-one sessions by appointment
Available Monday - Friday 10am-4pm
Location: Durham Road Resource Centre, Finsbury Park
Languages: Farsi, Kurdish, Arabic and English

One-to-one sessions by appointment
Available Wednesday 10am-4pm
Location: Church Street Neighbourhood Centre, Cherwell House, Penfold Street NW8 8PT
Languages: Farsi and English
Olive Club

Every Tuesday
Time: 10:00am-1:00pm 
Location: Wood Green Library, Haringey
Languages: English, Farsi and Kurdish
Activities: Social club with a variety of activities specified by service users
Refreshments provided

Olive Club

Every Saturday
Time: 10:00am-1:00pm 
Durham Road Resource Centre, Finsbury Park
Languages: English, Farsi, Kurdish and Arabic
Activities: Social club with a variety of activities specified by service users
Refreshments provided
Children welcome!

Olive Club

Every Sunday
Location: Edmonton Green Shopping Centre, Enfield
Languages: English, Farsi, Kurdish and Arabic
Activities: Social club with a variety of activities specified by service users
Refreshments provided

Walk and Talk
Every Thursday 10am-12pm
Location: Westminster
Languages: English, Farsi, Kurdish and Arabic
Activities: Women's walking and light exercise group. Socialise while walking through the parks and gardens of Westminster this summer with other women.
Future Services

Outdoor Picnic

Date: Tuesday 9th August 
Location: Westminster
Languages: English, Farsi, Kurdish and Arabic
Activities: Summer holiday picnic for women and children
Face and henna painting 
All our services are free however you must book to secure a place.

Booking and further information contact:
Phone: 07958145666

We also offer weekly befriending and one-to-one English Language sessions with a volunteer. If you would like support learning English or just want a friendly person to chat to please contact us.
Islington Tribune Article

For those that missed us, our Family Life Celebration event was featured in the Islington Tribune in July. 
Sodabeh Gashtasebi
MEWSo Advice Worker
Sodabeh Gashtasebi is employed by the Middle Eastern Women and Society organisation as a Welfare Advisor on issues related to mainly housing and benefits. Sodabeh speaks English and Farsi fluently and is a qualified and experienced Advisor. She is now offering one-to-one advice sessions every Wednesday between 10am-4pm at our new Westminster office. These sessions are by appointment only and you will need to call Sodabeh in advance to book. Please refer to the above poster for more information on Sodabeh's contact details and the address of the sessions.

Sodabeh is originally from Iran and left the country in 1991 when she realised that as a women she was unable to express herself and felt that she was looked at as a lesser member of society. In the UK Sodabeh has worked with many marginalised communities such as adults with disabilities and learning difficulties as well as asylum seekers/ refugees and the LGBT communities. Sodabeh is an enthusiastic artist and has taught many art therapy classes for MEWSo and other groups including children. Sodabeh, from personal experience, knows the difficulties of adjusting to life in the UK and that is why she decided to become an Advisor to help new arrivals find their way in society. She has been a qualified and practicing Advisor since 2010 and knows the barriers faced by many refugees and asylum seekers. Sodabeh is particularly passionate about working with women and helping them to overcome their difficulties which is why she decided to become an Advisor at MEWSo. Sodabeh is a strong and forceful woman who will fight your case and solve your problem every time!
'Caramel' Film Review from Islington Olive Club participant
I was pleased to be invited to join Olive Club for activities on the 9th of June. Caramel was the movie that we watched on that day. It’s a Lebanese movie directed by Nadine Labaki.
The beauty Salon is where we got introduced to the most of the female characters. The story shows different aspects of women lives within not only a conservative society but also very controlling political system.
At the very beginning we come across a scene where an elderly and mental health lady taking off a number of PCN from cars parked in the street issued by a traffic order officer. My own interpretation to the number of PCN is the symbol of a huge number of restrictions imposed on human lives in general and on women in particular.
According to Nadine, Lebanon seems to be a place where love between man and woman seems to be not only forbidden but also condemned by the police as if it is a crime like killing, smuggling or even stealing. The scene where we could see the engaged couple, having a conversation in the car, were taken to the police station as if they were criminals. Protesting against police arrest and injustice led to the abuse of power and the beating up of the man by an institution which is supposed to protect their citizens from aggression and abuse. Nadine is trying also to shed the light on the pressure on women under such society where women sexuality stills a big taboo. Women have to prove that they are virgin even if they have to undergo a surgical operation whereas men can always get away with it to the extent of showing off as well as having mistresses. Therefore women are compelled to be hypocrite just to carry on having a normal life in the future by forming their own family. In addition the movie depicts also the hardship of women lives in their 50s where they have no life apart from working hard to make a living while at the same time caring after their families. Rose is the character with whom I sympathise the most, living self denial as a female who needs love and affection simply because she has the responsibility to look after her old mother.
Homosexuality is another taboo that Nadine bravely wanted to highlight and invite people to be more open about it and discuss the matter rather to deny the right to happiness to those women who have just different sexual orientation than the rest of us.
To conclude, I would love to say that Caramel is very interesting movie to watch as it tackles a lot of issues well present in almost most of conservative countries, this movie is a reflexion about all these topics worth to be handled seriously in order to allow these societies to move on in the right direction.   
Review written by Islington Olive Club participant: Salima
I agree the hijab should be banned for very young girls in primary schools – it's not Islamophobic to say that
Neena Lall, the headteacher of a school in East London, has been overruled after attempting to ban the hijab for under-eights. It's not right; we have to be allowed to criticise and remain tolerant at the same time without being called 'racist'
Some years ago, in Leicester, I saw a Muslim woman wearing a hijab ahead of me, holding the hands of her two young children. Along came a group of young lads who circled them and shouted, “Take the tea-towel off your head!” They laughed, shoved past them and moved on to the philosophy lecture they were no doubt on their way to. 

I ran to the lady. It was upsetting. She comforted me, told me not to worry as there were idiots everywhere but most people were tolerant and good. I thanked her for looking after me; she told me to “stay positive”. I told her children they had a very strong mummy, they looked awkward and we all went about our business.
Read more here
Documentaries to Watch

Free Documentaries
BBC Iplayer
Love and Drugs on the Street: Girls Sleeping Rough

Eye-opening stories of the daily lives of women sleeping rough on Brighton’s streets.
Watch here
Calendar Dates
1-7 August 2017 - World Breastfeeding Week
The World Breastfeeding Week is coordinated by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA), a global network of individuals and organisations concerned with the protection, promotion and support of breastfeeding worldwide based on the Innocenti Declarations, the Ten Links for Nurturing the Future and the WHO/UNICEF Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding.

19 August - World Humanitarian Day  
Every year on World Humanitarian Day, we shine a spotlight on the millions of civilians around the world whose lives have been caught up in conflict. On this day we also take a moment to honour the brave health and aid workers who are targeted or obstructed as they set out to help people in need, and pay tribute to the government employees, members of civil society and representatives of international organizations and agencies who risk their lives to provide humanitarian aid and protection.

5 September - International Day of Charity 
The International Day of Charity was established with the objective of sensitizing and mobilizing people, NGOs, and stakeholders all around the world to to help others through volunteer and philanthropic activities.The date of 5 September was chosen in order to commemorate the anniversary of the passing away of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 "for work undertaken in the struggle to overcome poverty and distress, which also constitute a threat to peace."
As of March 2018 MEWSo will be sending our mewsletter every two months in order to create better material in each newsletter sent. If you require more up to date information on our services please visit our website or contact Kate Oboussier at
If you would like to write an article, share a personal experience, give feedback on a MEWSo service or advertise your organisation in next month's Mewsletter
Please contact: Kate Oboussier
Copyright © 2018 Middle Eastern Women and Society Organisation, All rights reserved.

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp