Bangla Sanglap desk: The government wants to remind those in the South Asian community that help and support is still available during the coronavirus pandemic through the ongoing #YouAreNotAlone domestic abuse campaign.
The #YouAreNotAlone campaign, which is open to people of all ethnicities, ages and backgrounds, was first set up in April 2020 in response to the increased demand for domestic abuse services during the first national lockdown. It aims to reassure and inform anybody at risk of, or experiencing domestic abuse that:
● Help and support is available for victims and their children during and beyond the coronavirus pandemic
● There is support available for all victims if they are able to leave home to seek help during the coronavirus pandemic
● Under the current lockdown rules, people are allowed to leave home if they are at risk of harm, including domestic abuse.
● If you are in immediate danger you should call 999 and the police will respond.
● You, and your children, can still access domestic abuse support services even if you are worried about your immigration status
Nadia Ali, TV and radio presenter, said: “There are many beautiful aspects associated with South Asian culture, but there are also some that can be quite damaging. Whilst going through my abuse, I allowed my husband to use our faith and our culture as weapons to manipulate me and keep me trapped in an emotionally and psychologically cruel marriage. After a while, I had the strength to actually listen to the voices in my head telling me that what I was going through was very wrong and no one had the right to control my mind, body or soul. It was time to put myself first, before my husband and the community. “
“Home is meant to be your haven, your safe place. If you find yourself being abused physically, psychologically or even emotionally by your husband or any other family member, I urge you to find a way to leave. There is so much support available so please trust your feelings, listen to your inner voice and try to seek help. You deserve the best!”
Seema Dhanak, Housing Caseworker and social media campaigner for domestic abuse awareness, has seen first-hand how the lockdown has impacted women from the community. She has often supported members of the popular South Asian women’s network group, RecommendAsian, with their own experiences of domestic abuse. She said: “In my current role, I have dealt with hundreds of homeless people affected by various forms of domestic abuse ranging from physical, sexual, emotional and financial. It wasn’t until I started supporting members of the group RecommendAsian that I truly began to understand the horrific nature of this crime, and the pain and suffering it caused the women in my community.
“For South Asian families, it is still considered taboo to take action if you are being abused by your husband, partner or another family member. And people find it easier to tolerate the abuse than venture into the unknown realms of homelessness and social services. From my own knowledge and experience of working with survivors of domestic abuse, I want to change how the community responds to this crime, and highlight that help is available during and beyond the coronavirus pandemic.”
According to the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) year ending March 2020:
● An estimated 7.3% of women (1.6 million) and 3.6% of men (757,000) experienced domestic abuse in the last year.
● Between April 2020 and February 2021, women’s domestic abuse charity Refuge’s saw a 61% increase in calls and contacts logged compared with the first three months of 2020.
Refuge also saw a 700% increase in the number of visits to its Helpline website (from 10,500 to 73,595 average visits per month), which holds information on recognising domestic abuse, safety planning and women’s rights and options.
The #YouAreNotAlone campaign also encourages people that know someone experiencing domestic abuse to seek support at gov.uk/domestic-abuse or to call the freephone 24-hour national domestic abuse helpline being provided by Refuge on 0808 2000 247 (in England, see alternative helplines below).
Following the recent widespread discussions about women’s safety, the Government reopened its Violence Against Women and Girls call for evidence. The aim is to understand the views and lived experiences of people from all backgrounds to help shape the new Violence Against Women and Girls strategy and ensure the Government is able to protect more victims and tackle perpetrators
To learn more about the support available during and after the national lockdown, visit gov.uk/domestic-abuse. You can also call or contact one of the below organisations:
● The Freephone 24-hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline run by Refuge for victims in England: 0808 2000 247. The hotline has Urdu, Punjabi and Hindi interpreters available upon request.
● The 24-hour Live Fear Free helpline for domestic abuse victims in Wales: 0808 80 10 800 or text 078600 77 333.
● The Men’s Advice line offers support for male victims of domestic abuse: 0808 801 0327.
● Karma Nirvana – a human rights charity supporting victims of domestic abuse, honour-based abuse and forced marriage.
● Roshni – a charity set up to support Black, Asian & Minority Ethnic communities affected by domestic abuse including forced marriage and honour based abuse.
○ 24 hour multilingual helpline – Contact number – 08009539666
○ 24 Hour West Midlands BAME Forced Marriage & Honour Based Abuse Helpline: 0800 953 9777
○ Exclusive WhatsApp number +44 7958 498 449
● Saheli – a Manchester-based charity set up to provide advice, information and support services to Asian women and their children fleeing domestic abuse and/or forced marriages. Contact number 01619454187
● Sharan – UK-based charity dedicated to supporting and advising vulnerable women, particularly of South Asian origin, who have been or are at risk of being disowned due to abuse or persecution. Contact number – 0844 504 3231