Fuuse Forum: Forced Marriage
FUUSE FORUM: MY BODY, MY RIGHTS – FORCED MARRIAGE
23rd of November from 13:00 – 16:00 at Chagall, Vaskerelven 1, 5014 Bergen, Norway.
This is a free event, visit this link to REGISTER ONLINE NOW
Fuuse is an Emmy and Peabody award-winning company founded by Norwegian artist and activist Deeyah Khan. Fuuse works to bring about urgently needed dialogue and social change towards a culture of human rights, gender equality, freedom of expression, social justice, inclusion and peace.
Fuuse launched Fuuse Forum, its series of dialogue events in September 2015. Fuuse Forum is a platform for open exchange on the most demanding issues that our society faces today. Fuuse Forum encourages the interchange of various vantage points through bringing forward hidden, alternative, and excluded perspectives in an atmosphere of plurality and respect. Fuuse Forum cultivates this multiplicity of opinions to develop rounded understandings and practical recommendations on crucial current issues.
My Body, My Rights – Forced Marriage is the second forum of this series.
INTRODUCTION TO FUUSE FORUM: MY BODY, MY RIGHTS – FORCED MARRIAGE
by Deeyah Khan
As a woman who has the benefits of a dual identity, combining a South Asian ancestry with a Scandinavian upbringing, I have always been preoccupied with exploring the various issues and contrasts arising from our intercultural societies. My work confronts the most problematic of these clashes. One of these is the issue around the control of women’s bodies, and the denial of their rights to self-determination. The most extreme instance of this is the phenomenon of so-called ‘honour’ killings. This was a topic which I explored in my first film, Banaz: A Love Story.
For young women like Banaz, their bodies become battlegrounds between the expectations of their parents’ culture and their aspirations for self-expression and freedom. For some families, marriage is seen as a means of maintaining clean lines of inheritance, or as a method of organising relations of reciprocity within and between families. This is a legacy of the practices of farmers and herders dating back to the earliest epochs of human civilisation.
Here, family ‘honour’ is connected to the ability to raise daughters who submit to their role in these arrangements: as chaste brides, as dutiful wives, and as self-sacrificing mothers. A family’s status in the community is reflected by how well they socialise their female members to these expectations. But increasingly, these ancient values clash with those of the modern world, where marriage is an expression of a relationship between two people, not a business arrangement between two families. Women are now encouraged to find other roles: to express their potential outside the home as well as within it. This conflict plays out in kitchens and living rooms across Norway every day. The expectations of parents meet the aspirations of their children, and most often compromises are made. But in some cases, the result is not compromise, it is a gross and criminal violation of human rights: where parents who have raised a daughter conspire together, to force her into a marriage where she will be raped by a man of their choosing.
Our second FUUSE FORUM event explores this problem of forced marriage. We will talk to activists that work to prevent these crimes, and to some young women who have escaped the prospect of forced marriage. Together we will explore why the issue of forced marriage took so long to be addressed in European policy, and how current legislative and policy responses operate to support victims and change the mentalities around forced marriage. We will talk about how we all need to come together, regardless of who we are, and address forced marriage as a community. Each of us needs to work out the roles that we can all play in reducing these crimes, and in supporting the victims.
My hope is that we can use these experiences to develop deeper understandings and more practical solutions to dealing with the issue of forced marriage. In developing Fuuse Forum, I wanted to create a series that takes a fresh and compassionate take on the pressing issues of our age, featuring speakers and viewpoints as diverse as the societies we live in today: encounters that bring together disparate voices with a common concern for our shared future. We will have to learn together to live together.
Diana Nammi has dedicated her life to campaigning for universal human rights. She spent 12 years on the frontline as a Peshmerga (Kurdish freedom fighter) but eventually her activism resulted in her facing persecution, which forced her to flee to the UK. In 2002 she founded the Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation (IKWRO) an NGO providing advice, advocacy, training and counselling to women and girls from Middle Eastern and North African communities affected by domestic violence. As Executive Director, Diana leads IKWRO’s campaigning. Successes include the first extradition of two men from the Kurdistan region of Iraq, who were found guilty of the ‘honour’ killing of Banaz Mahmod, and being part of the campaign for the criminalisation of forced marriage in the UK. Diana’s work has received national and international recognition and she is regularly called upon to share her expertise with government, academics, media and professionals. In 2012 she was named as one of 150 women who shake the world by Newsweek and The Daily Beast. In 2014 she received the Special Jury Women on the Move Award. In 2015 she won the Women of Courage Award from the Women’s Refugee Commission in New York and the XXI Premis Ones Mediterrania Award.
At the age of 18, Neda was forced to run away from home with her two younger sisters, then aged 11 and 16. Her 16 year old sister was going to be forced to marry a much older man. She had little support from the police whom she contacted. Due to those experiences she has shared her story with politicians, the UK Forced Marriage Commission, the BBC and Huffington Post in order to raise the profile of these crimes. For Neda, the hardest challenge she faced was the idea of having brought “shame” to the family and the isolation from the community. However, after years of hard work and struggle, Neda and her sisters have become independent women pursuing their own ambitions. Neda herself has recently finished a PhD and is currently working as a junior surgeon. She spearheads IKWRO’s “Right to Know” campaign which calls on the government to educate young people in schools about “honour” based violence, forced marriage and FGM.
Shaheen Hashmat is a Scottish Pakistani writer and campaigner who escaped the threat of forced marriage when she was 12 years old. 20 years on, Shaheen now spends much of her time highlighting the long-term recovery needs of those affected by forced marriage and ‘honour’ related abuse, focusing specifically on the need for urgent improvement of mental health services. Through her writing and advocacy work with a number of charities that provide specialist support, Shaheen continues to promote greater public understanding of this complex issue. She is currently writing a memoir of escaping honour abuse, coming to terms with a joint diagnosis of bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder, and finding happiness despite her painful experiences. Shaheen also works full time for the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, a charity that provides reproductive health care to women throughout the UK.
|NURAY YILDIRIM GULLESTAD
Nuray came to Norway as a political refugee from Turkey in 1998. She was one of the first students to enroll in anthropologist Unni Wikan’s course on ‘honour’ at the University of Oslo. This course was developed in the aftermath of the ‘honour’ killing of a young Kurdish woman, Fadime Şahindal, by her family in Sweden. The murder pushed the abuse of young women from minority communities into the public understanding in Europe. Nuray has worked for MIRA Senteret in their campaign against forced marriage, and has been working for IMDI (the Directorate of Integation and Diversity) for six years, where she is responsible for implementing the action plans against forced marriage and female genital mutilation in the Western region of Norway. She is also studying for a Master’s degree in democracy building at the University of Bergen.
|NAZIR AFZAL OBE
Nazir worked as a solicitor in Birmingham from 1988 to 1991. In London, he became a Crown Prosecutor in 1991 and Assistant Chief Crown Prosecutor in 2001. In 2011, he was appointed North West Chief Crown Prosecutor covering the areas of Greater Manchester, Cumbria and Lancashire. As one of the 13 chief crown prosecutors that cover England and Wales, he was responsible for over 100,000 prosecutions a year and managed 800 lawyers and paralegals. He was awarded an OBE in 2005. During a 24 year career, Nazir has prosecuted some of the most high profile cases in the country, including the ‘honour’ killing of Samaira Nazir. He has campaigned tirelessly on a range of issues, including violence against women and girls, child sexual abuse, and ‘honour’-based violence. He has advised UK government ministers and trains lawyers and judges from other countries. He now gives expert perspectives on all these topics. He is on the European Union and Council of Europe list of expert speakers. He is an outstanding communicator and has given hundreds of interviews across many media platforms.
|Time||FUUSE FORUM: MY BODY, MY RIGHTS – FORCED MARRIAGE|
|13:05||INTRODUCTION AND WELCOME: NAZIR AFZAL AND DEEYAH KHAN|
|13:10||NURAY YILDIRIM GULLESTAD: Forced marriage in Norway|
|13:25||SHAHEEN HASHMAT: Broken Families, Shattered Lives|
|13:45||DIANA NAMMI: NGO activism against forced marriage|
|14:05||NAZIR AFZAL: From Romeo & Juliet to Brad & Angelina|
|14:40||NEDA BARZEGAR: Forced marriage needs a community response|
|15:00||GROUP DISCUSSION: How can we end forced marriage? (Including Q&A from the audience.)|
|16:00||END: Summation by Nazir Afzal and thanks from Deeyah Khan|