Who we are
We highlight and challenge all forms of violence against women and girls, empowering them to gain control over their lives & assert their human rights to justice, equality and freedom.
Southall Black Sisters has attained iconic status, not just because of the longevity of our existence, but because we have played a leading role in challenging and shaping government policy on the issues facing black and minoritised women in the UK and offered an intensive and extensive service to women facing violence.
At our very inception in 1979, we made headlines for campaigning against virginity testing of Asian brides which was, briefly, the UK government’s way of reducing immigration by exploiting Asian patriarchal traditions to assess the authenticity of an arranged marriage. In the 90s, when non-British women in violent marriages were trapped by immigration rules that would result in deportation if the marriage ended within a year, we embarked on a campaign to lobby the government to change the rules. For many years, we were a lone voice until finally the campaign gathered steam and the government granted concessions and also limited access to benefits while women were applying for Leave to Remain.
Today, the issue of No Recourse to Public Funds is the linchpin of government policy & funding and forms the core of service delivery of domestic violence organisations to migrant women. SBS was also the first organisation to draw attention to the plight of non-British women abandoned abroad by their husbands, a phenomenon that has been steadily increasing. A recent court case ruled that this should be seen as domestic abuse and gave permission to a woman to return to the UK to apply for Leave to Remain here.
We believe secular ideals should be at the core of the feminist challenge to the patriarchal nature of religion. We campaigned successfully against the segregation by sex of students at universities at events where the speakers demanded it, against the Law society’s advice to introduce sharia-compliant elements to wills and against the growing importance of sharia council decisions in family law. We campaigned against the spread of Hindutva and its anti-Muslim ideas. We campaigned successfully against Sikh governors at a local school attempting to use new freedoms under the Education Act 1988 to turn into a religious school.
SBS hopes to continue on its trailblazing path.