On the 18th June we had our first Regional Meeting of 2022, at The University of Essex. The AGM went smoothly followed by the more ‘up to date’ business of the Regional Meeting.
Our guest speaker was Aneeta Prem, founder of The Freedom Charity.
Her theme was Dishonour Based Abuse covering her work in rescuing mostly women but also men from a Forced Marriage; also changing laws based on case studies having talked to many who have been in a Forced Marriage and those who believe it is likely to happen to them in the near future. It is not just those of Asian extraction who are at risk from this practice, it affects those of all ages from a wide range of countries whose family believe it is the right thing to do and shame would be brought on them it if did not take place. It is frequently linked to immigration – a way of young men being able to come to the UK if married to a British woman, particularly once they are pregnant.
She fights to stop FGM which has been illegal in the UK since 1985, and since 2003 anyone taking a child out of the UK to be cut faces 14 years in prison. However, it is still practised in the UK where it is estimated there are still 5,000 ‘cuttings’ a year. Aneeta also informed us about dignity testing and’ hymen repair’ where women are abused to see if they have an intact hymen (not a test that identifies virginity although this is why it is done!).
Aneeta is the author of ‘But It’s Not Fair’ & ‘Cut Flowers’ and many of us bought her books plus the triangle badge that signifies support for her work. For each book sold she is able to place 2 ‘free’ ones into schools. Indeed, part of her remit is to go into schools and teach children in an appropriate way about the dangers these issues can place children and women in.
For us, some of her stories based on interviews and cases she has been involved in were quite harrowing but it was important to hear the truth about these practices.
SI Ipswich had donated a quilt for a raffle to raise money for the Freedom Charity. Those attending were generous in their support be it through buying tickets or giving a donation. We raised a total of £150 which will be sent to the the Charity.
Of course, a Regional photo was essential: