In September 2010, Southall Black Sisters (SBS) conducted a two-year evaluation Project in 2 high schools in Southall, West London to develop a ‘whole school’ approach to change attitude and behaviour on violence against black and minority ethnic (BME) women and girls. This includes domestic and sexual violence and harmful practices such as forced marriage (including child and early forced marriage), female genital mutilation (FGM) and ‘honour killings’ or honour based violence (HBV).
The schools are located in a high BME population and the Project focused on 14-15 year old pupils and their teachers, although it also did some work with school governors and parents. The activities included classroom sessions (particularly in Personal, Health and Social Education- PHSE) on violence against women and girls (VAWG) and its specific impact on BME groups, such as the forced marriage, HBV/honour killings, suicide and self-harm, ‘intersectional discrimination’ (overlapping discrimination caused by racism and sexism), religious fundamentalism and black feminism. The Project also provided training for teachers, and held events for the whole school such as assemblies and for International Day to Elimination Violence against Women. In particular, in one school, we developed an ambassador programme for pupils to campaign against violence against BME women and girls.
The Project was very successful. Many pupils said that they felt more aware of the problem of violence against BME women and girls and felt more confident about how to get help for themselves and their friends. Teachers also said they were better informed about the subject. Pupils and teachers felt that all schools should be teaching the subject, and improving their policies, procedures and ethos to address the problem. They also said that the subject should be part of the national curriculum, and taught in PHSE, which should be statutory.
The project is discussed in more detail in the following article, which will be published later this year:
Siddiqui, H. and Bhardwaj, A. (forthcoming) ‘“Pandora’s box”: preventing and challenging violence against black and minority ethnic (BME) women and girls’, in Ellis, J. and Thiara, R.K. (eds) Working with Children and Young People to Address Violence against Women and Girls: Lessons for Policy and Practice, London: The Policy Press, University of Bristol.
You can contact SBS for more information about the Project by email or call the Helpline No: 020 8571 0800
Two of our Young Girls Ambassadors, Safia and Vilma attended the Youth For Change event ahead of the Girl Summit 2014 presenting issues effecting them and BME girls and young women in Southall.