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UK: Building FORB through faith-and-belief friendly workplaces

UK: Building FORB through faith-and-belief friendly workplaces

By Jim Shannon MP, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for International Freedom of Religion or Belief

APPG FoRB (20.11.2023) – The Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) is a touchstone human right. It enters every aspect of our lives, not only in religious practice. Whether in home life, the workplace, recreation, or any other setting, our belief systems, backgrounds, and identities travel with us. This report is a much-needed step in developing governmental thought on FoRB and business, showcasing the fantastic steps which businesses across the world, including many in the UK, are taking to promote “covenantal pluralism” in their workplaces.

 

The report is unique in that it provides a very practical toolkit for businesses to promote FoRB, thus improving employee experience and business output. The recommendations, tried and proven by top corporations, will prove valuable in promoting fundamental human rights in organic ways, through the “building method” of FoRB promotion.

When building, we seek to promote openness and acceptance of various religious and belief backgrounds, including those of no belief. In so doing, we feel free to express ourselves in a more authentic way, allowing for greater trust and cooperation among colleagues.

As a parliamentarian, I look forward to the combination of “building” and “advocacy” strategies playing out in the business world and in parliament. There is much we can learn in government from such positive methods. I look forward to applying the recommendations in my own work as an MP, with the hope that our diversity and celebration of FoRB will blossom, laying the foundation for FoRB policy innovations that may benefit millions.”

Table of Content

Foreword:  Jim  Shannon  MP,  Chair of  the  APPG  for  International  Freedom of  Religion  or  Belief

I.Introduction: A Builder’s Approach & Cali  ta  Action

II. Executive Summary

III. Background:  Meetings with  APPG  FoRB  and  No.  10 Downing  Street

IV.Conceptual Background  on  “Building”  FoRB

V.FoRB Helps  Businesses  & Economies  Grow

A.Macro Argument:  Economies

B.Micro Argument:  Workplaces

VI.Calls ta  action:  Business,  Government,  FoRB  Community

VII.  Tools  and  Organisational  Resources

A.How to  Approach  the  Tapie  of  Faith  and  Belief  in  the  Workplace

B.Faith-related Employee  Resource  Groups  (ERGs):  Overview

C.Corporate Religious  Equity,  Diversity  &  Inclusion  (REDI)  Index:

Free  Benchmarking  Tool

D.Organisational Examples  in  the  UK

Baringa

DELL Technologies

Google

NATS

OVO  Energy

Rolls-Royce  pic

Thames Water

University  of  Derby

UK  Research  and  Innovation  (UKRI)

Faith Friendly  Workplaces  (Network)

Further reading about FORB in UK on HRWF website

 





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UK: Femicide – 125 women killed by men March 2021 – 2022

Femicide – 125 women killed by men March 2021 – 2022

See the full list and pictures HERE

 

By Joan Smith

 

Telegraph (03.03.2022) – https://bit.ly/3s0VHbq – Some of their faces are familiar, but dozens more we are seeing for the first time.

 

Their names are barely known, except to families and friends. But two other women and a teenage girl were killed by men in the same week that Sarah Everard’s murder shook the country to its core a year ago. Four murders of women in such a short space of time is unusual – it tends to be between two and three per week – but it is a stark reminder of how many of their deaths go unremarked.

 

Around 125 women have been killed by men since March last year. The figure is not definitive because the perpetrator has yet to be identified in some cases. But we know that the victims ranged in age from 16 to 88. Most were attacked by someone known to them and many died in their own homes, challenging the notion that the streets are the most dangerous place for women.

 

Some of their faces are familiar, such as Sabina Nessa, the 28-year-old primary school teacher attacked while walking through a London park to meet a friend; Julia James, 53, a PCSO killed while walking her dog; teenager Bobbi-Anne McLeod, who went missing from a bus stop and was found dead on a Devon beach in November last year.

 

Dozens more – some of whom are pictured above, all of whom are named below – we are seeing for the first time.

 

The figure is substantially higher than in 2020, when the annual Femicide Census recorded 110 women killed, but similar to the 128 recorded in 2019. Despite all the assurances by police and government ministers that they are determined to protect women, the number killed by men has never fallen below two a week.

 

The list shatters some myths, demonstrating that stranger-killings like that of Sarah Everard are comparatively rare. The largest number of women are killed by current or former partners, while the next most significant group is mothers killed by sons; anyone who thinks that matricide is a rare event, confined to Greek tragedy, should think again. Sexually motivated murders are third on the list.

 

The popular notion that women in their 20s and 30s are most at risk is quite wrong, confirming the urgent need to make tackling violence against older women a priority.

 

Of the women killed over the last 12 months, 11 were in their 70s, another nine were 80 or older and 14 were in their 60s. That’s over a quarter of the total. There is a peculiar horror about these fatal attacks on older women, some of them carried out by men they gave birth to and raised.

 

In April last year, a DJ strangled his mother, 85-year-old Loretta Herman, in their east London home. Mark Herman, 54, later killed himself in a secure mental health facility. It is one of many cases in which there were warning signs: Herman, who had been unable to work because of Covid, had previously attempted suicide and attacked his mother.

 

It followed a horrendous murder-suicide the previous month in Northern Ireland. Karen McClean, 50, was stabbed to death by her son, Ken Flanagan, 26, who went on to kill his girlfriend, Stacey Knell, 30, and himself. Friends of the family, who lived in Northern Ireland, said Ms McClean had been worried that her son was using drugs and might hurt himself or someone else. Ms Knell’s previous partner, who had a child with her, had contacted police and social services the day before the double murder.

 

There is a repeated sense of the police letting women down. One of those failed was Yasmin Chkaifi, 43, who was killed in January, in Maida Vale, by her ex-husband. There was an arrest warrant out for Leon McCaskie, who had been accused of breaching an interim stalking protection order and failed to appear in court, when he stabbed his former partner on the street. Friends told how Yasmin had previously predicted that she would die at her ex-husband’s hands. Her son, Zayd Bakkali, has since said he will “never fully trust” the police again.

 

A look at figures from the Femicide Census in recent years shows that the number of women confirmed to have been killed by a man they know hovers between the 60-65 per cent mark each year (that number is likely higher, but the killer has not been caught).

 

That was the case for the youngest victim last year: 16-year-old Wenjing Ling. She was killed two days after Sarah Everard, strangled at her family’s Chinese takeaway in Wales. The murder was carried out by a friend, Chun Xu, 32, who had gambling debts and owed money to the family. In November last year, Xu was jailed for a minimum of 30 years for the murder. He was also convicted of the attempted murder of Wenjing’s stepfather.

 

Three days earlier, Samantha Heap, 45, was found dead in a flat in Congleton, Cheshire. Her neighbour, David Mottram, 47, strangled, stabbed and inflicted multiple blunt force injuries on her. Mottram boasted that he killed Ms Heap “because he didn’t like her”. He was sentenced to life with a minimum term of 30 years. 

 

Another woman was killed on the day following Ms Everard’s murder. Geetika Goyal, 29, met a hideous death at the hands of her husband, Kashish Aggarwal, 28. Ms Goyal’s body was found with 19 stab wounds, wrapped in plastic and dumped in a street in Leicester. Aggarwal told her family she had gone missing but later admitted murder, and was sentenced to a minimum of 20 years and six months in prison. 

 

What’s striking about these murders is that the men received long prison sentences, but too late to help their victims. Around three-fifths of men who kill women known are found guilty of murder or manslaughter, a relatively high proportion, but they are clearly not deterred by the prospect of spending decades in prison.

 

A chilling feature is the prevalence of “over-killing”, where the perpetrator uses far more force than was needed. These are men who refuse to control their rage towards the women in their lives – and their prior behaviour offers ample warnings. In the decade after the Femicide Census was founded in 2009, a history of domestic abuse featured in 59 per cent of killings committed by current or former partners.

 

During the outcry that followed Sarah Everard’s murder, many people expressed the hope that it would be a turning point. We now have 125 reasons to doubt that aspiration. 

 

It is in part a consequence of an under-funded criminal justice system, but it is also a question of priorities. Women who report abuse or threats to kill still don’t get the advice and protection they need, and police have been slow to use measures such as domestic violence prevention orders. The failures are so egregious that there appears to be an unspoken assumption that a certain level of fatalities is inevitable. 

 

The agonies these women went through – stabbed, strangled, bludgeoned, raped, even set on fire – are almost unbearable to contemplate. Like Sarah Everard, they all had a right to life, but every single one was let down.

Photo credits: Paul Grover for the Telegraph





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UK: ‘Honour-based’ offences soared by 81% in last five years

‘Honour-based’ offences soared by 81% in last five years

Lawyer calls for improved education on issue and says figures are likely to show ‘tip of the iceberg’

 

By Haroon Siddique

 

The Guardian (31.10.2021) – https://bit.ly/3nQnpF5 – The number of “honour-based” abuse (HBA) offences recorded by English police forces has soared over the past five years, figures suggest.

 

According to data from the 28 out of 39 constabularies that responded to freedom of information (FoI) requests, the number of HBA cases – including offences such as rape, death threats and assault – rose from 884 in 2016 to 1,599 last year, a rise of 81%.

 

While some of the increase in HBA offences could be down to more victims coming forward and improved identification of offences by police, Imran Khodabocus, a senior associate at the Family Law Company who represents families in such cases, said the rise was alarming.

 

He said: “It’s essential education around what honour-based abuse is and how it impacts families is improved across the country. These figures are likely to just show the tip of the iceberg: lockdowns have exacerbated the problem for many and as we continue to get back to normal life, I expect to see even more cases involving honour-based abuse.

“Of course, due to the very nature of these cases, it’s likely many victims will never even think to approach the police and the issues are often not recognised by schools, social services or the police.”

 

Forced marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM) are other instances of HBA offences committed, according to the Crown Prosecution Service, “to protect or defend the honour of an individual, family and/or community for alleged or perceived breaches of the family and/or community’s code of behaviour.”

 

There are estimated to be 12 to 15 so-called “honour” killings in Britain every year. Notorious cases include Banaz Mahmod, whose father, uncle and other relatives plotted to murder her after she left an allegedly abusive marriage and fell in love with another man; and Samia Shahid, from Bradford, who was killed on a trip to Pakistan. Shahid’s ex-husband and father were arrested in Pakistan in connection with her death but her father died while on bail and nobody has stood trial.

 

The Home Office has collected data from police forces on HBA offences on a mandatory basis since April 2019. Its first figures, described as “experimental”, showed 2,024 offences recorded in 2019-20, although it said as it was often a “hidden” crime, this was likely to have been a “small proportion” of offences actually committed.

 

Greater Manchester police (GMP) were excluded from the Home Office figures because they could not supply data owing to installation of a new IT system, and were unable to respond to the FoI request either.

 

Karma Nirvana, a charity that supports victims of honour-based violence, said the omission of figures from GMP, England’s third biggest force, was significant as the area generates a lot of calls to its helpline.

 

Natasha Rattu, the director of Karma Nirvana, acknowledged police identification of such crimes was better, albeit still with room for improvement, but said: “The fact that there are increases suggests that people are and have been feeling more desperate or more at risk.”

 

The charity wants a fresh review of policing of honour-based abuse by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary as it says many of the recommendations of the last report, in 2015, which found police were not doing enough to protect victims, have not been implemented.

 

A National Police Chiefs’ Council spokesperson said: “We acknowledge that these abuses are hugely under-reported and we remain focused on giving victims the confidence and come forward. I urge anyone with information or concerns about honour-based violence to contact the police – your report will be taken seriously.”

 

Photo credits: Guardian/PA





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UK: Thousands of EU citizens refused UK entry in three months since Brexit

By Chantal Da Silva

 

Euronews (28.05.2021) – https://bit.ly/3oZnV3P – Thousands of EU citizens were refused entry at the UK border in the first three months of 2021, representing a major surge in cases despite a decline in travel due to the coronavirus pandemic.

 

As many as 3,294 EU citizens were blocked from entering the UK in the first quarter of 2021, according to new data published by the British government.

 

The figure represents a major increase from the first quarter of last year, when fewer than 500 EU citizens were denied entry, despite travel rates being significantly higher.

 

Experts have linked it to Brexit taking effect on January 1. COVID travel restrictions could have also played a part, but they would also have been in place last year when the number of EU citizens turned away was much lower.

 

 

End of free movement

 

While post-Brexit rules allow EU citizens to visit the UK without a visa, Marley Morris, an associate director at the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), has said the surge in EU citizens being turned away from British borders was an early sign of the “impact of [the] end of free movement”.

 

“Most striking thing I’ve seen so far,” Morris said in a tweet.

 

Speaking with Euronews, Morris said that with the end of free movement, EU citizens are facing deeper scrutiny at the UK border than they may have expected following Brexit.

 

“Before free movement ended, there weren’t many restrictions in place and you didn’t have to justify why you were coming, but now, people are coming and they are being refused because there’s a suspicion on the part of border control that… they might be coming to settle or to work or in another way break the conditions of their temporary leave,” Morris said.

 

“I think that’s what seems to be happening,” he said. “People are coming and for whatever reason, they’re being suspected of coming to the UK to work rather than for just visiting purposes.”

 

 

Romanians form bulk of those turned away

 

Of the EU citizens turned away from UK borders in the first quarter of 2021, more than 2,000 were from Romania, according to the data.

 

It is unclear exactly why so many Romanians were turned away. Euronews has contacted the Home Office for more information.

 

Romanian MEP Ramona Strugariu told Euronews that she was aware of the issue, however.

 

“I know there were some refusals and there were also some issues regarding Romanians kept in detention,” she said.

 

Strugariu said she was aware of Romanians being turned away from the British border “on various grounds”, including issues related to their labour arrangements.

 

The issue was so prevalent that she said one of her colleagues had written to British authorities to address the issue.

 

Morris said he had been surprised to notice the high number of Romanians turned away.

 

“It does seem odd to have such a sort of sharp increase specifically for Romanian citizens, though it is worth saying that even if you take Romanians out of the picture, there is still an overall increase,” he said.

 

While Morris said deeper scrutiny from border officials has played a major role in EU citizens being turned away from British borders, he also said confusion around the country’s new rules following Brexit could also be an issue.

 

 

‘I thought my first trip would be a nice opportunity’

 

In one recent case, a woman who had travelled to the UK from Italy to learn more English and help look after her cousin’s children told Euronews of her horror when she was blocked from entering the country and instead taken to a detention centre before being deported back to Italy the next day.

 

“I thought my first trip would be a nice opportunity and experience, but the result was completely different,” Marta Lomartire, 24, told Euronews.

 

Her relatives in the UK had gone to lengths to ensure that she would have everything she needed, including discussing the trip with their local MP and being assured Marta would be able to enter the country for six months as an au pair.

 

However, when Marta arrived at the border, she was told her documents were not enough to secure her entry.

 

Morris said he believed that the rejections would likely continue at the UK border “as people adapt to this new system”.

 

With both EU citizens and UK border officials having to adapt to new rules, he said what we are seeing now is likely a “teething process”.

 

However, he said the rise in rejections of EU citizens at the UK border was concerning and an issue that will have to be “monitored quite carefully going forward”.

 

Photo credits:  Frank Augstein





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AFRICA/FGM: UK – FGM Policies May Be Alienating Some African Diaspora Communities

By Nazia Parveen and Aamna Mohdin

 

WUNRN (18.02.2021) – https://bit.ly/2ZHWzDu – Safeguarding policies introduced to protect women and girls against female genital mutilation (FGM) are instead eroding trust and alienating African diaspora communities, a study has found.

 

Current FGM safeguarding measures are undermining the welfare and safety of the women and young girls they seek to protect, with families feeling racially profiled, criminalised and stigmatised, according to the report.

 

The report, published by African women’s rights organisation Forward and the University of Huddersfield, examines the lived experiences of FGM safeguarding policies and procedures in the UK.

 

Based on interviews with communities and professionals, including serving police officers, it found that health and social care workers, teachers and the police are concerned about the growing mistrust within their communities, and are sceptical of the need to single out FGM from other forms of child abuse.

 

Key findings included that safeguarding policies enacted since 2014 may have inadvertently done a great deal of harm to families, communities and young girls, potentially across the UK.

 

They increased the scrutiny, suspicion and stigmatisation experienced by families in many areas of their lives, from school, to healthcare, to overseas travel, the report said. These experiences had taken a significant toll on the mental health of parents, who said they had no intention of carrying out FGM on their daughters, and in some cases even campaigned against it.

 

Professionals participating in the study expressed equal concern over the ways in which the current policies had burdened some families, and warned against a growing disconnect between them and the diaspora communities.

 

“The current FGM safeguarding policies are causing quite a lot of harm. Communities are feeling targeted and that they are racially profiled. There is a general sense of assumption that many of these African diaspora communities are having the intention of subjecting their daughters to FGM, even if in some of the cases that’s not actually true,” said Amy Abdelshahid, lead author and head of evidence at Forward.

 

She added there is an excessive focus on families from certain communities when they travel abroad. “Sometimes they may receive home visits from social services and police investigating them and interrogating before they are able to travel,” she said.

 

Asha, from the Somali community, who participated in the study, said: “When children are going on summer holiday, mothers face fear … The assumption is that you are going on holiday and you are doing FGM to your daughter. It’s really the holiday that you were thinking about.’’

 

Abdelshahid said participants also spoke of having to endure repetitive and uncomfortable conversations about their own FGM and their intention of having it carried out on their daughters in healthcare settings.

 

“What we’re seeing is that in different touchpoints of their lives, they are getting that constant scrutiny by different types of professionals across many areas,” she added.

 

In an interview with a police detective, she said singling out FGM as a particular issue could be stigmatising for a community, “whereas we should be looking at all forms of abuse within every community”.

 

Abdelshahid said: “We think the policies could end up being counterproductive.”

 

She pointed to a quote in the report by a social worker who warned communities are staying away from them. “And that is really alarming, because if community organisations are not able to do the awareness raising and grassroots work that has proven to be very effective in the past, then we’re risking undermining quite a lot of fundamental and essential work.”

 

The report makes a series of recommendations to address FGM in a more compassionate and inclusive way, including the introduction of more holistic training for professionals, re-examining the current policies and a focus on policies that recognise the role of communities in eliminating FGM.

 

However, the feminist campaigner Nimco Ali – who has been a key figure in the global fight to end FGM – praised the work being carried out by the government, stating that the practice would only be eradicated via legislation and state-level involvement.

 

Ali, who is a survivor of FGM and was appointed by the Home Secretary, Priti Patel, as an independent adviser to help draw up a strategy to tackle violence against women and girls, said: “When I was growing up it was all about trying to work with communities – which is good – but FGM is an organised crime. The idea that we need to return to talking and negotiating with communities is a non-starter.

 

“I absolutely understand [the need] for the state to take control of this issue, and it is the reason FGM was added to the Children’s Act. We are going to ask uncomfortable questions. Why are we offended that these questions are being asked? We need these safety nets.”

 

Victoria Atkins, the Safeguarding Minister, said: “Female genital mutilation is a crime. It causes extreme and lifelong physical and psychological suffering to women and girls and we will not tolerate this child abuse taking place in our country.

 

“The government introduced tough safeguarding laws which compel certain professionals to report if they have encountered a potential child victim of female genital mutilation, regardless of what community they are from.”

 

 

Photo credits: Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images


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