Womens Fightback: Campaigns and activism

Submitted by AWL on 24 February, 2008 - 8:19

Southall Black Sisters face closure

Southall Black Sisters, for many years the only militant women’s organisation fighting for ethnic minority women is facing the threat of closure as a result of Ealing Council’s decision to withdraw vital funding in April 2008.

The money from the council has helped the group provide advice, advocacy, counselling and support services to black and minority women in the borough who experience violence and abuse.

The council say there is no need for specialist services for black and minority women, and that services to abused women in the borough need to be streamlined. When the group point out that it is more difficult, if not impossible, for black and minority women to access outside help or seek information about their rights, the council has not been persuaded. The council want the group to either extend the service to cover the needs of all women in the borough, or set up a consortium of groups to provide such a service for the same sum of money.

While the group have never denied services to any woman who contacts them, they feel that a focus on the needs of black and minority women is vital and indeed life-saving.

The suicide rates of Asian women for example, are three times the national average and homicides — where abusive men and families kill their wives, daughters or daughters-in-law — are also high within some black and minority communities.

Moreover campaigns in such critical areas of work as forced marriage, honour killings, suicides and self harm, religious fundamentalism and immigration difficulties, especially the ‘no recourse to public funds’ issue, will have to be drastically cut back .

• If you think you can help contact southallblacksisters@btconnect.com

Iranian women’s magazine shutdown

Last week, Iranian authorities shut down Zanan, the country’s premier women’s magazine. President Ahmadinejad said that Zanan showed Iranian women in a “black light” and was a threat to the psychological well being of Iranian society.

Please join Human Rights First in calling on the the Iranian judiciary to reverse the closure order:


Iraqi LGBT benefit

Middle Eastern Dance Night extravaganza! Thursday 28th February, 9 pm – 2 am, The Golden Lion Britannia Street, London, WC1X 9JE. £5

This evening is a benefit set up on behalf of IRAQI LGBT by Camden LGBT Forum to help fund safe houses for LGBT people who have become victims of hate crime in Iraq . Come and hear the founder of IRAQI LGBT, Ali Hilli, explain what is happening and then dance to DJs Rockit, Nikki Lucas (and Ali Hilli ) or boggle at the amazing belly dance of Snake Boy!



X-talk update

X-Talk, the sex-worker run project which offers free English classes to migrant sex workers, is about to start teaching is second set of course. Supported by the Internatonal Union of Sex Workers, the Feminist Review, Feminist Fightback and NUS Women’s Campaign (at the instigation of Feminist Fightback activists!), X-Talk ran a pilot course last May, attracting students who wanted English skills in order to be better able to protect themselves and demand their rights at work. As a result of this initial success, X-Talk have now secured more funding and are able to offer beginner and intermediate classes and a male class — all taught by sex workers, in a safe and non-judgemental environment.

Since we are the only people offering this kind of service to sex workers we want to get the word out as much as possible, and have been dropping leaflets in brothels and advertising in a variety of foreign language and migrant community newspapers.

Unfortunately, one of these publications, Thai Smile, has just returned our advertisement — they will not advertise for “women who want sex”. Given that a significant proportion of sex workers in London are Thai — including a number of those who came to the last X-Talk classes — it appears that the self-appointed community leaders at Thai Smile deliberately want to ignore and cover-up this important issue. This little incident is a useful indication of a broader culture in which the taboo around sex work means that, despite lip-service paid to the need to help trafficked women, obstacles are still being placed in the way of serious projects to empower sex workers.

By a X-Talk teaching assistant.

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