Around the world, activists will use the #16days of activism as an opportunity to highlight the devastating impact of violence against women and girls (VAWG), while calling for change.
This post is dedicated to all the women who have fought, and who continue to fight for equality, justice and a voice. In particular, these words are dedicated to the women of Roshni, Nottingham, and all the other women whose blood, sweat and tears continue to soak through the rich, painful tapestry of this work.
I cried because we lost Roshni. But through the tears, I stand here to say again, ‘Nothing about us without us!’ We will keep fighting!
We will fight to save Apna Haq, a lifeline for many of the women of Rotherham who are even more unsafe on the streets as Islamophobic violence has increased. Apna Haq, like so many organisations for minority women, was set up because we needed a place to go, a place of safety, a place where we could speak, a place where we could be heard.
This has always been about the work. This has always been about our voices, our safety and our lives.
So to the politicians we say, this: ‘As you contemplate your cuts, remember we never started out on a level playing field. We have already been cut. We have already suffered disproportionately. Let us get on with our work.’
We say: ‘Stop destroying our organisations and our lives. We have a right to define the solutions that work for us. We have a right to speak with our own voices and in our own words.’
We know our realities and we speak from that place. We are the experts in our own journeys. Black women need Black-led services, and so we say: nothing about us without us!
Marai Larasi is the Executive Director of Imkaan, a UK-based national second tier organisation dedicated to challenging violence against black and ‘minority ethnic’ women and girls. A longer version of this piece appeared in Imkaan's publication In Our Own Words.