Friday, February 29, 2008

Womens' center under threat of closure; or, once again, "our needs are Universal; you're just a special interest, and can be subsumed"

via BlackAmazon:

Southall Black Sisters
, in their own words,

a not-for-profit organisation, was established in 1979 to meet the needs of black (Asian and African-Caribbean) women. Our aims are to highlight and challenge violence against women; empower them to gain more control over their lives; live without fear of violence; and assert their human rights to justice, equality and freedom. For more than two decades we have been at the forefront of challenging domestic and gender violence locally and nationally, and campaigning for the provision of support services to enable women and their children to escape violent relationships.

We manage a resource centre in West London that provides a comprehensive service to women experiencing violence and abuse. We offer specialist advice, information, casework, advocacy, counselling and self-help support services in several community languages. We are managed by a group of women with long experience of women's struggles and commitment to women's rights.

...are now in danger of termination, because

of our local authority’s (Ealing) decision to withdraw our funding as of April 2008.

The local authority’s decision is based on the view that there is no need for specialist services for black and minority women and that services to abused women in the borough need to be streamlined. This view fails to take account of the unequal social, economic and cultural context which makes it difficult, if not impossible, for black and minority women to access outside help or seek information about their rights.

This is the letter they've sent, at womensphere:

Ealing council suggests that we either extend our service to cover the needs of all women in the borough or that we set up a consortium of groups to provide such a service for the same sum of money. The amount of funds available to the voluntary sector in Ealing has shrunk year in, year out, but the withdrawal of funds to SBS will have a number of far reaching consequences:

* The attempt to compel us to meet the needs of all women will mean that we will have to reduce our services to black and minority women across London and the country. Abused black and minority women, who already face considerable racism, discrimination and cultural pressures, will no longer have access to a specialist service.

We have never denied our services to any woman who contacts SBS but our focus has out of necessity, and in recognition of the demographic composition of the area, been on meeting the needs of black and minority women who continue to be one of the most disempowered sections of our society. The suicide rates of Asian women for example, are already three times the national average and homicides - where abusive men and families kill their wives, daughters or daughters-in-law - are also high within some black and minority communities. In all likelihood, any reduction in our services will see a rise in suicide and homicide rates amongst black and minority women.

* We will no longer have the same national impact in terms of our input in policy and legal development in relation to black and minority women, which has been highly effective over the years. Our campaigns in such critical areas of work as forced marriage, honour killings, suicides and self harm, religious fundamentalism and immigration difficulties, especially the ‘no recourse to public funds’ issue, will have to be drastically cut back...


BA's commentary:

Why is it that whenever we think of streamlining or making things more effective, somehow magically and mystically it involves eliminating, streamlining or destroying the resources and avenues for women/people of color?


It's not like a women who reports her husband for domestic violence is more likely to get taken in herself if she's brown or po...

Wait a minute she is!

...If you can for a minute in your day take a perspective and or " look at the big picture" of

a) someone believing YOU SHOULDN'T EXIST in as few generations AS POSSIBLE
b) or structures believing and improved FLOW chart is more important than you hearing love and support in Gujurati BECAUSE IT'S THE ONLY LANGUAGE YOU KNOW AND YOUR HUSBAND BEATS YOU EVERYDAY WHILE IMMIGRATION DENIES YOU SERVICES

...Because you see this isn't about the fact that WOC need saving or do nothing.

No this is the case for WOC doing something , surviving thriving reaching back to help and aid each other across race , linguistic, socio economic barriers and being told that it's not what's needed.


request for help:

We would be grateful for any support that you can give us. If you do not have time to draft a letter, please contact Hannana Siddiqui or call 020 8571 9595 for more information. Please let us have a copy of any letter you send and any reply that you receive.

If you are able to support us in any other way please contact us. We look forward to your response.

Yours sincerely

Pragna Patel
Chair of Southall Black Sisters

Add: Southall Black Sisters, 21 Avenue Road, Southall, Middlesex UB1 3BL
Tel: 020 8571 9595
Fax: 020 8574 6781

Update: Louisefeminista has a report on the protest here.


Anonymous said...

Erm - is it worth pointing out that the date on the protest flyer says 26th February?

belledame222 said...

oops. um, yeah.

apart from that, though...

Louisefeminista said...

Hiya Belledame,

I attended the protest to show my support and solidarity to Southall Black Sisters. They have been going for 29 years and for them to be closed now would be a disaster.

Here's my report of the protest.

belledame222 said...

Hey, thanks LF.

Louisefeminista said...

You're welcome....

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