Due to an unprecedented volume of referrals, we regret that we are unable to accept any new referrals between Wednesday 1st December 2021 and Wednesday 5th January 2022. We will continue to prioritise urgent cases and will take high-risk referrals only if a CAADA-DASH risk assessment has been undertaken and is attached with the referral. We will also continue to accept MARAC referrals. Our No Recourse Fund remains open for applications and referrals. Our Helpline (020 8571 9595) remains open between 9:00am and 5:00pm Monday – Friday until Friday 17th December, when SBS will close for the holidays until Wednesday 5th January 2022. 

You can reach the 24-hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0808 2000 247. If you are in immediate danger, dial 999.

SOUTHALL BLACK SISTERS

TIMELINE

1979

Founding of Southall Black Sisters.

Hundreds arrested and injured in a police operation to stop a mass protest against NF presence in Southall. Blair Peach killed by Special Patrol Group Officers. Defence campaign followed.

1979

1980

Chix strike, Slough. Many Southall women on mass picket.

Campaign against virginity testing of Asian immigrant women.

Mrs Dhillon and her children set on fire by her husband. SBS protests.

1980

1983

GLC (Greater London Council) funding received. Southall Black Women’s Centre established.

1983

1984

Krishna Sharma found hanged at home. Demonstration outside the house. Slogan “They say it’s suicide, we say it’s murder” “Black Women’s tradition/Struggle not submission” Links set up with other campaigns on domestic violence.

Dispute in Brent refuge starts. Management locked out. Demand to run projects separately.

Miners’ strike support activity.

1984

1985

Balwant Kaur murdered by her husband in Brent Asian Women’s Refuge. Campaign to ensure her husband’s conviction.

Refuge demands conceded.

1985

1986

The Gurdip Kaur campaign initiated in Reading following the murder of an Asian woman. Pickets and demos. Husband and brother-in-law conspired to murder. Brother-in-law charged with murder, got off with manslaughter. Charges against husband dropped.

National demonstration of women against violence against women organised by Network of Women.

Helped to produce film, “A Fearful Silence”, on domestic violence in Asian communities with Azad Productions.

Split in Southall Black Women’s Centre.

1986

1987

New centre established in the name of Southall Black Sisters.

Anti-deportation campaign “Josephine & Peter must stay”.

Dominion Centre campaign on safety of women workers.

1987

1988

Save SBS campaign. Funding threatened. Council lobbied. Slogan “Where will women go?”

Ealing FAB (Fight the Alton Bill which was an attempt to restrict women’s access to abortion) Campaign.

Launch of single homelessness campaign.

1988

1989

International Women’s Day meeting called “The resurgence of Religion? What price do women pay?’ SBS & Labour Party, Southall Women’s Section issue statement in support of Salman Rushdie.

March and rally on the tenth anniversary of Blair Peach’s murder by police.

First meeting of Women Against Fundamentalism.

Women Against Fundamentalism picket religious Muslim demonstration demanding an extension of blasphemy laws. Demands include a secularization of British state, no state funding of religious education and abolition of the blasphemy law. Slogans “Our Tradition: struggle not submission”, “Religious leaders don’t speak for us”, “Blasphemy laws police dissent”, “Fear is your weapon/Courage is ours”.

1989

1990

Publication of Against the Grain: A celebration of survival and struggle.

1990

1991

Set up the Save Our Schools Campaign with local groups, teachers and parents in Southall to prevent two schools opting out and becoming Sikh only schools.

Helped to launch “Remember Vandana Patel Campaign” with local Asian women’s groups.

Launch of the Free Kiranjit Ahluwalia campaign, a woman who is given a life sentence for murder for setting her violent husband on fire in a final act of survival.

1991

1992

Kiranjit is released and her original conviction is quashed and reduced to manslaughter.

SBS gives evidence on how the one-year rule in immigration traps newly married women in violent situations to the Home Affairs Select Committee’s inquiry into domestic violence.

SBS is awarded the Martin Ennals Civil Liberties Award by Liberty.

Memorial held for Abnash Bisla, killed by her husband. SBS also demonstrated outside the husband’s house with a number of other Asian women’s groups.

1992

1993

Pragna Patel, a member of the Management Committee, wins two Cosmopolitan Achievement Awards: in the Public Service category and is also the overall winner for the year.

Formed Alliance Against Communalism and for Democracy in South Asia with a number of local groups in Southall and Brent in the wake of the destruction of Babri Masjid in India by Hindu fundamentalist and Hindu and Muslim riots. Aimed to fight communal forces in South Asia and the UK.

1993

1995

SBS starts a campaign against the one-year immigration rule and wins Advice 2000′s ‘Challenge Award’ in ‘recognition of our efforts to gain justice’.

SBS sends a delegation of women to attend World Conference on Women in Beijing, China.

Successfully appealed in the case of an Asian woman with mental health problems who killed her child and had her conviction for murder reduced to manslaughter.

1995

1996

SBS makes a submission on immigration, asylum and domestic violence to the UN hearings on the International Convention for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

Memorial for Imtiaz Begum and her four children killed by her husband/their father in Birmingham and Bristol. Worked with local Asian women’s groups.

SBS starts campaign to free Zoora Shah, a woman serving life for the murder of her abuser, Mohammad Azam in Bradford in 1992.

1996

1997

Secured a first-ever conviction of a husband in a marital rape in the Asian community. Members of his family were also sentenced for abusing his wife.

Publication of Circle of Light, the story of Kiranjit Ahluwalia’s life, co-written with Rahila Gupta, a member of the MC.

1997

1998

Zoora Shah loses her appeal against her conviction for the murder of Mohammed Azam. SBS continues to explore other legal avenues including representations to the Home Secretary to reduce her 20-year tariff.

The conclusion of an internal review of SBS management and administrative structures resulted in SBS moving from a collective structure to a hierarchy.

SBS is nominated for the Ethnic Minority Charity for the Year by the Ethnic Minority Media Awards sponsored by Nat West Bank.

1998

1999

The House of Lords delivers a historic judgement in the Shah and Islam case: women who fear gender persecution should be recognized as refugees. We had advised one of the women and her legal team.

The Home Office announces concessions on the one-year rule for abused spouse/ partners subject to a probationary period following discussions with SBS.

SBS is invited to join The Home Office Working Group to inquire into the issue of forced marriage.

SBS, along with five other women’s organizations, are the beneficiaries of money raised by a ‘V-Day’ charity event – the first celebrity readings of Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues in the UK.

Hannana Siddiqui, Joint Co-ordinator, is nominated for the Emma Humphries Memorial Prize.

SBS supports the Lufthansa Skychef workers, most of whom were Asian women, sacked for going on a lawful one-day strike in protest against new working practices.

1999

2009

2009

2010

2010

2011

2011

2012

2012

2013

2013

2014

2014

2015

2015

2016

SBS takes part in an important conference on Sharia Law, Legal Pluralism and Access to Justice.

Pragna Patel gives a TED X talk on access to justice threatened by cuts to legal aid and religious fundamentalism. She shines a light on how these processes affect the most vulnerable and disenfranchised people in society; and asks “when access to justice is threatened, who or what fills the gap?

SBS condemns the Indian government’s drift to authoritarianism as shown by its attempt to gag and close down civil society organisations and legal firms like the Lawyers Collective in India that take action to hold the government accountable.

SBS joins campaigners in protest against the government’s so-called independent inquiry into Sharia Councils and women’s human rights abuses. They question the make-up of the inquiry panel and its terms of reference.

SBS and others call for a boycott of the Sharia law inquiry due to a lack of response from the government since they published a letter imploring the Home Secretary to undertake an impartial human rights inquiry rather than a theological inquiry.

SBS organises meetings to examine and discuss the role of religious arbitration in a family matter and the range of injustices faced by women who engage with them against the background of religious fundamentalism.

Pragna Patel exposes the BBC Asian Network for not including feminist voices in the debates.

SBS intervenes in cases on legal aid and immigration controls to highlight social injustices and bring about positive developments for our users.

Phannatiq launches 3D printed necklace in support of the work of SBS.

Pragna Patel speaks at Safety4Sisters Migrant Women’s Rights to Safety Conference in Manchester discussing the barriers that migrant women subject to immigration control face in accessing safety and protection from gender-based violence.

BME women issue a powerful statement against parallel legal systems based on fundamentalist religious codes. Their voices have not been heard in a debate that has overwhelmingly focused on religious identity politics rather than women’s rights and access to justice.

2016

2017

SBS opposes Nusrat Ghani MP’s Private Members Bill to ban the term ‘honour’ from official documents. The move whilst well intentioned is misguided.

Pragna Patel states report on Fundamentalism, Extremism and Cultural Rights by Karima Bennoune [United Nations Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights] is of huge importance to the work of SBS. It is invaluable to our work in challenging fundamentalist demands for gender segregation and parallel legal systems.

The UK Supreme Court begins hearing the ‘Worboys’ case, concerning two victims of a serial rapist who was seriously let down by a catastrophic litany of failures in the police’s investigation into their reports of rape. SBS intervenes with others and organises a demonstration outside the Supreme Court under the banner of ‘Violence Against Women & Girls: No Justice Without Accountability.

Pragna Patel speaks at the ‘GO HOME?’ book launch in Manchester. This book explores the discriminatory impact of the UK governments illegal plans in 2013 to drive down immigration. The ‘Go Home’ vans campaign marked a low point in the government’s desire to demonstrate a tough and hostile stance on immigration controls.

Shakila Maan wins the Emma Humphreys Memorial Prize.

Following the announcement of a ‘snap’ general election SBS demands that the election must take account of equality, justice and rights for all women.

SBS intervenes in a landmark case on gender segregation and leads protests.

SBS supports a series of resolutions that came out of the International Conference on Freedom of Conscience and Expression organised by One law for Law and others

SBS welcomes the recognition given to the problem of transnational marriage abandonment in the family justice system. In partnership with the University of Lincoln and Dawson Cornwall Solicitors, SBS succeeded in persuading the President of the Family Division to include abandonment as a form of domestic abuse in the revised Practice Direction on child arrangements, domestic violence and harm.

In a landmark judgment, in which SBS intervened, the Court of Appeal found that ‘separate but equal’ treatment on the basis of gender at a Muslim co-ed school can amount to unlawful sex discrimination under the Equality Act 2010.

SBS signs open letter to the Charity Commission urging it to strip the Hindu fundamentalist National Council of Hindu Temples of its charitable status for inciting religious hatred.

Pragna Patel speaking in the Guardian about the Weinstein scandal on sexual harassment and abuse and whether this spells the end of patriarchy.

SBS and the End Violence Against Women Coalition publish a new report on the Human Rights Act as a vital tool in the struggle for women’s rights to live free from violence and abuse.

SBS joins forces with the British Institute of Human Rights to demand the protection of fundamental human rights in the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill.

SBS throws light on the workings of ‘Sharia’ Councils and the Muslim Arbitration Tribunal – they reveal serious failings that flout principles of the rule of law and undermine the rights of women in fundamental ways.

2017

2018

SBS receives generous donations from local businesses to hold the annual Christmas Party for service users and their children.

SBS joins campaign to demand that the forthcoming Domestic Violence Bill prioritise safety, equality, dignity and liberty for migrant women.

SBS joins a local campaign to save Southall and Ealing Town Halls from being sold off to corporate body and to a fundamentalist Hindu Temple. The town halls are valuable and secular spaces for civic engagement.

Southall Black Sisters joins with One Law for All and coalition partners to express dismay and disappointment at the outcome of the Independent Sharia Review.

On 21 February, SBS, the End Violence Against Women Coalition (EVAW), NIA, Rape Crisis England & Wales welcomes the historic ruling in the ‘Worboys’ case. The Supreme Court which makes clear that the police must investigate rape properly to ensure that human rights are protected.

Pragna Patel speaks about the ‘Worboys’ case and says that women now have recourse to the law to hold the police to account.

Due to severe weather, SBS opens its doors to all homeless women in Southall and Ealing, providing hot food and shelter.

SBS call upon the women of Britain to join in the Women’s Initiative for Peace in Afrin launched at House of Commons. We demand an immediate end to the attacks on Afrin and for humanitarian support to be provided.

SBS gives a cautious welcome to the Government’s Consultation on a New Domestic Violence and Abuse Bill. It provides an opportunity for us to tell the government that we want a comprehensive law that works for all abused women irrespective of their background.

SBS organises a picket outside the Hyatt Place Hotel in Hayes where the Home Office – in partnership with the British High Commission in Delhi and an Indian NGO called the Development and Justice Initiative (DAJI) organised a meeting billed as an ’immigration seminar‘. The meeting is aimed at those who work with ‘migrant communities’ and involves the public helping the Home Office to gain access to vulnerable people identified as potentially ‘illegal’.

SBS stands in solidarity with the peaceful protesters at Stanstead Airport who took direct action to oppose harsh and punitive immigration practices. Protestors were not only being criminalised but astonishingly, tried under terrorism legislation.

Southall Black Sisters joins protests outside Downing Street against Narendra Modi, the Indian Prime Minister and his government’s complicity in the latest series of horrific rapes perpetrated against women and girls in India.

Pragna Patel discusses the government’s hostile and punitive immigration policies and how they have led the police and other agencies to prioritise the detention and arrest of migrant women over their right to safety when they report their experiences of gender-based violence and abuse.
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SBS shares its recommendations via social media in relation to, gender-based violence, migrant women and their right to access protection.

In the wakes of #MeToo, Pragna Patel calls for more philanthropic support to end violence against girls and women.

SBS and others write an open letter to the Ministry of Justice, calling for an urgent review into Sharia and civil marriage and divorce laws and to guarantee access to justice for all.

SBS supports the Victim’s Commissioner and the Mayor of London in ending the Hostile Environment for abused migrant women with insecure status.

SBS is a signatory to a letter upholding the right to freedom of expression in the face of racism, injustice and inequality. But also endorses the right to dissent. Both are necessary to defeat the forces of racism, authoritarianism and religious fundamentalism in all religions and communities.

The Giants Group of London supports SBS by organising a charity walk/run to raise funds for our work.

Pragna Patel signs a letter supporting the need for free and open debate on gender politics and women’s rights without violence, threats and discrimination.

SBS and others call on the government to ensure that the Domestic Violence Bill includes a comprehensive plan of action for migrant women based on protection and not immigration enforcement.

SBS refused permission to intervene on behalf Southall Black Sisters in the case of Lachaux v Independent News Print Limited. The questions raise crucial questions about media law and gender equality.

Pragna Patel contributes to Women’s Legal Landmarks – a book celebrating the history of women and law in the UK and Ireland.

SBS signs a manifesto at an International conference on Sharia, Segregation and Secularism. It lays down the key principles on which resistance to religious fundamentalism and struggle for secular democracy should be based.

SBS signs a resolution in support of Asia Bibi’s right to asylum and protection from fundamentalism in a safe country.

The organisation Liberty and SBS lodge the UK’s first-ever super-complaint against systemic and potentially unlawful data-sharing practices between the police and Home Office immigration enforcement teams. The practice discriminates against abuse victims and other vulnerable witnesses and undermines the fight against crime.

2018

2019

Following a short campaign in the media by SBS, the government announces its decision to stop charging forced marriage victims for their repatriation. SBS welcomes the U-turn by the government. The shameful practice of charging forced marriage victims for their freedom was always an abuse of the rights of the most vulnerable.

On Valentine’s Day and the 30th anniversary of the fatwa against Salman Rushdie, SBS supports a meeting organised by Feminist Dissent to defend the right to free speech and democratic values. SBS participation is a continuation of SBS’ campaigns against all forms of religious fundamentalism, racism.

2019