SOUTHALL BLACK SISTERS
is a leading organisation that advocates for justice and provides support services to women from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities who experience domestic and sexual violence and other forms of gender-based violence. GMSP has been working with Southall Black Sisters (SBS) for a number of years to reach hundreds of women and children affected by violence – including funding a helpline, core staff costs and other services.
509 cases and 5,196 enquiries dealt with in the last year
of people who have used SBS support services report increased safety
The overwhelming majority of women who seek help from SBS present with multiple complex issues, largely to do with violence and abuse requiring several interventions, including assistance with protection, housing, immigration, mental health services and other emotional support. Because mainstream health and social services often fail to understand the particular cultural needs of BAME women, or penalise them for their immigration status, victims of abuse are often wary of seeking help. This exacerbates their social exclusion and increases their risk of further abuse.
SBS recognises the particular needs of this category of vulnerable, marginalised women and operates within an intersectional framework, acknowledging that abused BAME women need more sustained, intense and long-term support because of the multiple layers of discrimination (based on race, caste, class, religion) that marginalise them.
SBS has had a visible and vocal presence pursuing justice for BAME women for 40 years. The organisation was set up in the wake of far-right and anti-fascist rallies in Southall but shot to fame for its successful 1980 campaign to stop virginity testing, a policy carried out by the government on immigrant women to verify their marriages to UK citizens were authentic.
Since then, SBS has held the government, the police and local councils to account via campaigns and legal challenges in its pursuit of justice for BAME women.
In addition to its policy advocacy and campaigning work, SBS offers information, advice, advocacy, resources, self-help support and counselling services at its centre in West London to women experiencing violence, abuse and other forms of inequality.