FORWARD is an African-led, women’s rights organisation. For over 30 years their work has focused on combating female genital mutilation (FGM), child marriage, and other forms of violence against women and girls (VAWG) that impact adversely on the health, dignity and well being of African women and girls.
Their work enables community members, key professionals and policymakers to have the motivation, capacity and opportunity to bring about social and policy changes.
They do this by fostering strategic networks and partnerships; developing leadership capacity and skills and convening spaces for effective participation and engagement.
FORWARD’s vision is that women and girls live in dignity, are healthy and have choices and enjoy equal rights.
Here is a short film about the work done by FORWARD
Case Study :
Sara (25 years old) a newly married bride came to the UK, for her very first time, to join her husband. Her marriage was a traditional arranged marriage. She had not met her husband in person but was excited at the prospect of coming to the UK and having the opportunity of pursuing her career. Sara was referred to our services from the organization Refuge which supported victims of domestic abuse. Throughout the 8 months of her short marriage, Sara had suffered from severe emotional and physical abuse by her husband. The shock that she endured from her husband, left her dumbfounded.
When she came to FORWARD, she was constantly crying, suffering from nightmares, panic attacks and loss of appetite. The longest time she slept was for 2 hours, she would then awake, frightened, as if someone was strangling her. The fear of her ex-husband was extreme. She was confident that if he found her he would kill her.
The abuse began from the second day of their marriage. Unable to consummate the marriage due to Sara having had FGM Type III, left Sara’s husband feeling frustrated and angry. He began hurling abuse at her, shaming her, treating her as if she was his servant, to cook and clean for him. He forced her to do acts of sex on him that left Sara feeling mortified. He made her feel that something was detrimentally wrong with her.
Sara suffered from PostTraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). She had poor self-esteem and poor confidence in herself. She would say “I feel so broken and damaged”. Sara had no way to return back to her country. Her ex-husband had spread rumours about how she was not a ‘virgin’ when he had married her. Her older brother vowed to kill her if he ever saw her again. She had brought shame and dishonor to their family.
Sara felt she had lost everything in this marriage. Her family had turned against her, she was also tied to her ex husband by the spousal visa. Through her solicitor and FORWARD’s support we provided a letter to the Home Office to support her application. She was granted a visa to remain on compassionate grounds. She commented how FORWARD staff made her feel like she was part of the family. Everyone would greet her with warmth and kindness.