If you are interested in social justice, and not already a member of Liberty, we highly recommend checking out their work and becoming a member to make your voice heard. To be clear: Hackney Yoga Project is not affiliated with Liberty. We simply support their work, and the reason they’re in mind is because at WOW! (Women of the World festival) on London’s Southbank Centre this weekend we were inspired by Liberty’s director Shami Chakrabarti alongside many others.
Liberty is a campaigning organisation with 80 years of experience, and exists to promote civil liberties and protect human rights for everyone. Hackney Yoga Project helps survivors of violence and oppression (mainly refugee and asylum-seeking women) from countries where civil liberties and human rights are unprotected.
Because of this, in these countries it is easier for atrocities to take place, such as rape as a tool of war, torture, female genital mutilation (FGM) and human trafficking, aka exploitation of individuals for sexual/domestic slavery. It follows that it is also significantly less likely that perpetrators will be held accountable or convicted.
Why the Human Rights Act is vital
In the UK, the Human Rights Act means that you can defend your rights in the UK courts and that public organisations (including the Government, the Police and local councils) must treat everyone equally, with fairness, dignity and respect.
Despite this, on average, two women are killed every week in the England/Wales as a result of domestic violence and there are an estimated 1800-2000 victims of trafficking in the UK. Only 1% are ever rescued. Two thirds of all trafficking victims are women.
Why was a woman born in Congo DRC and not in Wiltshire in England? Why did she grow-up to get gang raped, see her children and husband shot in front of her and flee for her life to the UK to seek safety, rather than getting a great education and following her dreams? No reason we can ascertain.
What is certain
What is certain is that life is in constant flux, that we face death (like every other human being on the planet) and that we have no idea how long our lives will be. So, in the light of this reality, what do we do with our precious freedom?
At Hackney Yoga Project, we are doing what we love and believe in whole-heartedly (and we are not alone; the WOW! festival was full of people doing the same, as is the rest of the world – just look around…).
We’re focused on working with refugee and asylum-seeking women as they are more likely to have experienced gender based violence than any other group in the world. This includes rape, gang rape, female genital mutilation (FGM), sexual abuse and domestic violence. Some are survivors of torture and trafficking, and many are separated from their loved ones (including children). And yes, we’d love to work with men and younger people. It is just a matter of funding.
Thank you to all at WOW! and everyone else who continue to inspire and support us. At WOW! particularly the following, whose sessions we attended: Liberty director Shami Chakrabarti, solicitor Emma Norton, Sarah Ricca, founding partner at Deighton Pierce Glynn solicitors, clients Sharon Hardy and Khristina Swain and Celia Peachey and Manuel Fernandez; Ronke Phillips the senior correspondent from ITV news who chaired a session on trafficking, Afruca, Marissa Begonia, founder of Justice for Domestic Workers and Klara Skrivankova from Anti-Slavery International, and UKFeminista.