Rosa invests in organisations which work to create a safer world for women. Violence against women, which includes domestic violence, stalking and harassment, rape and sexual offences, forced marriage, honour based violence and female genital mutilation, child abuse, sexual exploitation by human trafficking and prostitution, is a shameful violation of women’s human rights and a cause and consequence of women’s inequality.
Fear of violence reduces women’s autonomy and choices. We want to end violence and the fear of violence. The example below is illustrative of the sorts of projects Rosa has been able to support, empowering women to speak out against Female Genital Mutilation.
Rosa supported the Warm Hut project, a self-help organisation based in Salford, which serves to provide advocacy and welfare for refugees, asylum seekers and migrant workers. The work funded was mostly with French-speaking asylum-seekers and refugees who live in and around Greater Manchester, including those from Burkina Faso, Mali, Senegal and Guinea Conakry.
The peer support group was set up by members who were once newly-arrived migrants themselves, and offers programs that help people to engage in UK life, offer psychological support, and challenge harmful traditional practices (FGM included).
After discovering through community research that FGM was largely supported and that knowledge of its illegality was limited in the area, work was initiated to encourage women to step forward and share their experiences of living with FGM, as part of an effort to prevent it for future generations.
The ‘Living Story’ project documented women’s experiences of living with FGM, and engaged younger women in FGM prevention using social media.
“If we stay silent on this issue we are not going to be able to help our community or our girls”
-Pipeeh Miyalu, Project Coordinator
It was important to build trust to ensure that participants did not feel a sense of betraying their heritage and tarnishing their cultural practices. Framing FGM as a health issue, project coordinators were able to record 25 stories, which were then played back in ‘learning circles’ to educate, engage, and foster discussion among men, women, and children in the community.
“I have been through it; I know what it is and want to stop bad things happening to our daughter”
– Warm Hut project participant
By providing a safe space to discuss FGM, the project encouraged many women who had undergone FGM to speak out for the first time and even to become advocates against the practice, openly stating that they did not intend to cut their daughters.
Additionally, many young people who attended the sessions were not aware of FGM or did not realize that they were potentially at risk. Warm Hut intends to continue to work to end FGM in the communities where they work, using the community-based approach that they have developed under the ‘Living Story’ project.