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MEWSo, defending and protecting women from violence
at home and in the wider community

July, 2021

Campaign News

Polygamy Seminar

On Wednesday 14th July at 2pm, MEWSo will be holding its first seminar on polygamy to explain about our renewed project and our campaign Polygamy Matters.

Working with the University of Greenwich, the project aims to support women trapped in polygamous relationships in which ever way they need help, and conduct vital research.

Alongside that, our campaign aims to raise awareness within ethnic communities, and wider society, to help deter such illegal marriages in future. All too often women caught in these situations are left vulnerable to destitution and domestic violence, and have none of the rights and protections of a legal wife.
If you'd like to attend and learn more about the issue, or if you know of women in such situations who need our help, call MEWSo on 07579 801 366 or email: office@mewso.org.
The seminar's Zoom room link will be given out nearer the date.

Banning Virginity Tests Update

In the latest meeting between the Department of Health and Social Care, Richard Holden MP, and key stakeholders campaigning to end virginity tests, MEWSo’s Executive Director, Halaleh Taheri, once again reiterated the need to also ban hymen repair surgery.

MEWSo, and fellow charities Karma Nirvana, IKWRO and others, were invited to answer questions from Government policy advisors. To stress the need for banning both practices, Halaleh reminded the advisors of MEWSo's expertise and years of campaigning in this area, our close links with the communities affected, and that young people need to be educated on the issue as a  matter of priority, to limit the damage these practices inflict and to stop them going ‘underground’ once a ban is in place.

MEWSo will continue to lobby for a ban to be written into the forthcoming Health Bill.

Making A Stir At Rosa

Speaking at a recent conference by the Rosa Foundation, MEWSo’s Halaleh Taheri, called for more organisations, authorities, experts and pioneers to join us in helping educate parents and communities about the rights of children, young girls and women. 

We must, she said, start in secondary schools, teaching young people about their rights when it comes to virginity tests, hymen repair surgery and polygamy. 
The challenges, she stressed, are huge and we need to prepare ourselves for them. Such as speaking out against Sharia Law and the damage it does to so many women in ethnic communities. It creates, Halaleh said, a two-tier system of rights and legislation. “I believe in Britain we should all live by one law, British law.”

She added, we need to protect women from harmful customs and attitudes, whether they are religious or traditional ones, that oppress and violate women’s rights. “These should be challenged by everyone who wants to see the violence end,” she said.

Partnerships

From Survivors To Thrivers

MEWSo is now in partnership with the Kurdish and Middle Eastern Women’s Organisation (KMEWO) in a three-year project called Survivors2Thrivers. 

The project is supported by the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC), the body that is responsible for overseeing the Metropolitan Police at the Greater London Authority.

As part of this new programme we will provide specialist advice on domestic violence to women in the London Boroughs of Barnet, Westminster, Hackney and Enfield. We will arrange workshops on domestic violence for health and social care professionals and our voluntary sector partners, and provide counselling to women in a range of community languages. For more information, email: office@mewso.org.

Staff & Service Updates

Introducing Loris

Since our last newsletter, MEWSo has lost a trustee but gained a staff member. Loris Konaizeh, who was a trustee with MEWSo for several years, stepped down earlier in the year to become our new Volunteers Coordinator.

Loris has been working in the charity sector for the last four years as a Programme and Volunteers Manager. She is now responsible for recruiting, training and organising our fabulous group of volunteers who act as befrienders, translators, facilitators and administrators and generally help keep our services going. She is also responsible for MEWSo's befriending programme for isolated women.
On changing roles, Loris said: "I have always found it inspiring to work with volunteers, and I’m delighted to have this opportunity to motivate and engage with such a caring, dedicated group of people. The support we receive from our volunteers is invaluable. Our aim is to maintain and grow our volunteer network, ensuring that they will have the best volunteering experience at MEWSo."

If you want to volunteer for MEWSo or you know of someone who does, please email: Loris.Konaizeh@mewso.org.

Zumba Restarts Later in the Summer

Now that school holidays are upon us and there is the possibility of lockdown being partially or entirely lifted, our Zumba class is taking a well-earned break.

The hope is that we will be able to bring the class back later in the summer with the facilitator and clients able to meet in person (socially distanced) rather than on Zoom. However, the rules and logistics are currently being worked through, and, as you'd expect, they are liable to last minute changes.
As soon as we have firm details about our Zumba class to share, we will let you know. All other MEWSo classes and workshops are still going strong. So, email: office@mewso.org to sign up.
Written & compiled by Audrey Thompson, Communications Coordinator
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Middle Eastern Women and Society Organisation · Durham Road Resource Centre · 86 Durham Road · London, London N7 7DT · United Kingdom

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