The Savera UK Youth project aims to raise awareness, to young people, of the harmful practices that are unfortunately accepted as part of a tradition in some cultures, mainly black and minority ethnic communities. We did this by preparing and hosting a youth led conference on 13th November 2018 during UK Parliament Week which turned out to be really successful!
During the project, I learned about the different harmful practices that still take place today. These were: female genital mutilation (FGM), forced marriage honour-based abuse and much more. I have also learned that people that are dealing with this sort of issue can always seek help without having to spend the rest of their lives living in fear. Harmful practices are a violation of human rights and are an example of gender based violence; even FGM has a major life-long risks to a woman’s health and in some cases it may even lead to death.
At the conference, there was a panel of people who all represented different groups and organisations. The audience asked them questions about their roles, what they have in place and what more could be done in order to help and overcome these problems. I was curious to see what they all had to say. The founder of Savera UK (Afrah Qassim) also made a speech which was emotional. There was also a survivor who told her own inspiring story and some of the young people had also prepared poems. At the end of the conference the film was shown.
To prepare for the conference, we met up regularly and did a lot of sessions. We were educated all about harmful practices, the potential reasons for them, and what we as young people can do to help. The group of us young people discussed who we would like to see on our panel for the Q&A part during the conference and why they should be there. We planned the story line for the film we were going to make which would be shown at the conference then also learned how to use a camera which was fun. Shooting our film took about 4 days in total. We even filmed on the day of the conference! The film was about a young girl who was being forced to marry against her will. One of her classmates saw the hints she was posting on social media and she knew something was up. She managed to stop the wedding just in time and introduced the girl to Savera UK who were able to be instrumental in stopping the wedding. This story had a happy ending, but unfortunately this is not always the case in all real life situations.
Shauna, Malcolm and I were live on BBC Radio Merseyside which was an nerve-racking but an amazing experience. We spread the news about Savera UK and the problems of domestic violence.
I had two favourite parts during our conference. One was when I introduced our new ambassador Maya Jama to the stage and then she spoke about how passionate she is to make a difference to the lives of young women. I then interviewed her which was an amazing opportunity and she explained why she wanted to work with Savera UK. Her dedication was obvious and her enthusiasm just shows why she will always be an incredible ambassador for Savera UK. I was so excited to have met her. My other favourite part was listening to Nazir Afzal talk. He is the Patron for Savera UK and I just found his speech very inspiring and powerful. Listening to him talk about his personal experiences of different cases he has ruled about honour based abuse and harmful practices and how he thinks things should be different was very interesting and touching.
I loved every single journey of the project, and just seeing the successful end result of our all our hard work and commitment makes me very proud of us all. I personally have learned a lot more about harmful practices and domestic violence and I think that a lot more young people are aware of it as well.
By Kusqaum Adam