Service for survivors for BME women continue to be under threat – let’s join the fight to keep London Black Women’s Project’s refuge services and ensure that specialist domestic violence services do not become a target for austerity cuts.
Closure of specialist services due to loss of funding is cutting off a lifeline for women, campaigners say
Anjum Mouj, chair of the LBWP, said: “It is a solid and reliable service that has saved the lives of many women and children who would have nowhere to go if we did not exist.”
Baljit Banga, who was the director for over a decade but stepped down in May, said: “We were really shocked by the decision. It puts women’s lives at risk. BME women will be too scared to access generic services. From the research and frontline work we do we know that BME women do not access generic services.
“They use BME services because of language barriers and culturally specific support available there, and also because they want a service that understands them and their voices. We are historically rooted in the communities we serve. We have always worked closely with women to ensure their lived experiences and their voice were the things that shaped the way these services should be delivered.
“This decision constitutes a total erasure of women’s voices. There is a terrible sense of injustice being committed. Survivors we work with are very upset because they do not know where they are going to go to access support. This funding decision forces women to relive the trauma they have already experienced.”
Like many in the BME Violence Against Women’s sector, we find the decision by Newham Council to award funds to run a BME women’s refuge to a generic service deeply disturbing although not surprising. For some time, the writing has been on the wall. We are presiding over an era in which the BME women’s projects set up following struggles for equality, are being decimated one by one. We see many parallels between your struggle and our own struggle at SBS in 2008/9 to save our advocacy services. We won that fight only after a long and sustained campaign and legal action against Ealing Council. But we have had to remain constantly vigilant. What is at stake is not just our services but our right to political self-determination as BME women. We cannot and must not allow the local or national government to use austerity to silence us or push us back into the margins of our communities and society. We stand shoulder to shoulder with you and in the long fight ahead.
In sisterhood and solidarity.
Support the protest to stop cuts to the London Black Women’s project – a vital service for BME women London wide.
— LBWP (@LBWPWomen) July 3, 2019
Image Credit: Independent