BAME face horror in lockdown during COVID-19
Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic women in Cleveland have shared stories about the harrowing abuse they’ve faced during the Covid-19 lockdown.
The women have chosen to anonymously share their experiences on the National Day of Memory for Victims of Honour Killings, in the hope it may encourage other isolated victims to come forward and seek help - despite the cultural barriers they may face.
All of the victims are currently being supported by the Halo Project, a service commissioned by the Police and Crime Commissioner to deliver support for women experiencing illegal cultural harms, including forced marriage, honour-based violence and female genital mutilation.
One victim said: “I reported a few incidents of violence to the police and never had the courage to actually leave my abusive relationship. My partner has gone on holiday to India and whilst he was away, I have built courage to leave.
“I am living in a flat provided by the local authority, however I’m so happy for the support I have received from Halo. I hope to move away from the area before he comes back and to start a new life.”
Another victim said: “I was living with my mum during lockdown who was my perpetrator, the abuse got more difficult to cope with during Covid-19 as I could not go out to college or work.
“I called Halo and got support and left my situation with their help. I am in a bed and breakfast now till I get placed in my own place however, I am so happy to be out of that situation and in my own space abuse-free. My Halo worker helped me with the move and emotionally supported me.”
The Middlesbrough-based charity has supported clients from over 30 different Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds, including many from Cleveland’s large South Asian community.
The service has recently launched a web-chat service, giving victims access to specialist support remotely and safely, at a time when many may still be trapped with their perpetrators.
Halo Project Chief Executive Yasmin Khan said: “Victims should not suffer alone and in silence. It is imperative that we keeping improving our service to women and girls and that we reach out and offer safe, confidential, and different ways for them to access the vital help they need.”
Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger recently extended the charity’s contract for another 12 months. He said: “It’s difficult to hear about the terrible experiences some victims have faced during the Covid-19 lockdown.
“It is a comfort to hear that these women reached out to Halo Project for support, but there may be so many more women in Cleveland who may be suffering in silence, for fear of cultural or personal repercussions.
“By commissioning a specialist service like the Halo Project, we can ensure victims engage with staff who understand the cultural elements of their story and ensure they get the discreet support and advice they need.”
Audio files of victims stories can be accessed here. All stories are voiced by an actor.
Posted on Tuesday 14th July 2020