Following the shocking events just over two weeks ago at a Buckingham Palace reception on the 29th of November 2022, Rights of Women are expressing our solidarity with Ngozi Fulani and Sistah Space. The event which was held to recognise and honour organisations working to end violence against women and girls, was overshadowed by racism.
Since this event, the vital work of Black and minoritised women working to end abuse has been called in to question. Black and minoritised women experience multiple intersecting forms of oppression and have the right to provide specialised services to protect the lives of women and girls in their community who are at risk of domestic violence.
We are deeply saddened to see that Sistah Space has been forced to cease operations over safety concerns. This closure will have real life consequences for Black women who continue to need their support. Specialist services are underfunded and overcapacity; it is devastating to see that the incredible impact of Sistah Space has now been hindered by the unacceptable backlash that this incident has given rise to.
Rights of Women (RoW) is an organisation that campaigns for equality, justice, and safety for all women. We know from our advice lines that Black and minoritised women are made disproportionately more vulnerable to domestic violence. This stems from the racism embedded in our structures and systems, including the legal system.
A key part of these experiences is not being believed – and the persistent questioning used during this incident echoes strongly with the experiences that our service users routinely report to us. We recognise the insidious racism that suggests that Black women can never really be British, and we know how this rhetoric has led to Black women being failed by the state again and again.
RoW stands in support of Black and minoritised women and girls and we stand committed to the VAWG Sector Anti-Racism Charter. This charter seeks to recognise, understand, respect, support and amplify the work that Black and minoritised women carry out in this space. Our commitment to the Charter reflects our position for the ‘By and For’ women’s organisations. ‘By and For’ VAWG organisations are independent, specialist, expert services run by and for women from the communities they seek to serve. They were set up in response to the social, political, and economic exclusion many communities face when in need of specialist support.
We have immense respect for these specialised services who are impactful via their ability to self-govern across staff, management and governance structures which enables them to best shape and respond to the violence experienced.
We will continue to show support and solidarity to Ngozi Fulani and the Sistah Space team and support specialist domestic violence services for women and girls across the UK.