Sanskriti Sanghi

Public Meeting on Institutional Racism: The Criminalisation of Black Women

On 12 June 2024, Southall Black Sisters convened a public meeting to raise awareness about Black women’s daily experiences of institutional racism and the criminalisation they are subjected to if they dare to resist racist abuse.

In September last year, our Executive Director Selma Taha and her friends, Divina Riggon and Danae Thomas, were subjected to an extremely violent racist attack while on the Underground, in the presence of an off-duty Met police officer. This included the assailant, a white woman, making monkey sounds at Selma and her friends, and calling them “Black bitches” and “slaves” among other vile racist slurs. The assailant subsequently physically attacked Selma and her friends, pulling clumps of hair off Selma and her friend and biting Selma’s flesh, leaving a deeply embedded imprint of her teeth which necessitated tetanus and hepatitis injections and antibiotics.

In a shocking development, the CPS have charged Selma, Divina and Danae with common assault by beating. Danae has also been charged with a racially aggravated public order offence and Divina has been charged with a public order offence, but without the racial aggravation. No further action is to be taken against the assailant in relation to the assault. In relation to her racist abuse, she has been offered and accepted a caution for racially aggravated conduct contrary to s4A of the Public Order Act, in relation to one instance of racist abuse which she has admitted. No further action is to be taken in relation to other instances of racist abuse by her during the incident.

We are disappointed that the case is proceeding to a full trial on 10th, 11th and 12th July at Highbury Magistrates’ Court.

By charging Selma, Divina and Danae, the CPS is criminalising the right of Black people, and Black women in particular, to call out racist abuse and resist racist violence. It highlights the many ways in which the criminal justice system disadvantages Black women due to institutionalised racism and sexism and reaffirms our lack of faith in an appropriate systemic response. By hosting this public meeting, we wished to engage in discourse around the structural inequalities rampant in our system and collectively consider solutions.


Andrea Simon (Executive Director, End Violence Against Women)

Suresh Grover (Co-Director, The Monitoring Group)

Marai Larasi (Feminist Advocate, Community Organiser and Consultant)

Daniel Kebede (General Secretary, National Education Union)

Sukhdev Reel (Activist)

Dr Shola Mos-Shogbamimu (Lawyer and Activist)

Rahila Gupta – Chair (Chair, Management Committee, Southall Black Sisters)

Thank you for joining the conversation. If you missed it, you can now watch the recording!

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