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Women share their powerful stories at Female Voices Forum

WOMEN, who have been victims of domestic violence, ‘honour’ based abuse, hate crime and anti-social behaviour, shared their powerful stories at the first Female Voices Forum.

Hosted by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC) for Essex, the event aimed to give women from minority ethnic and faith communities the chance to talk about their crime and safety-related concerns.

As well as being attended by women from the community, representatives from the New Generation Development agency – a local group specialising in community development, mediation and hate crime prevention and education –  and Essex Police also went along.

The meeting, which was hosted at the Gurdwara in Maidstone Road, Grays, heard from women who had been repeat victims of harassment and anti-social behaviour.

One woman told how she had suffered ‘honour’ abuse – which is violence or behaviour carried out to “defend the honour” of a family or community. As well as sharing her harrowing story, the woman told how she believed there was still a lack of understanding of the crime among some areas of the police, and that officers should be given specialist training to deal with abuse in minority communities.

A survivor of domestic abuse shared how she had suffered a 20-year long ordeal at the hands of her partner and how she got through the difficult time with the help of a local women’s aid.

At the conclusion of the meeting, all of those present agreed moving forward that more places, where women can meet and socialise safely, are needed.

Gwanwyn Mason, Assistant Director for Engagement at the OPCC who organised and hosted the event, said:  “This was our very first Female Voices Forum and it was great to see women from different minority ethnic and faith communities sharing their experiences.

“It was also invaluable to hear from them about how they believe police can work more closely with their communities to improve experiences for women and this will be used to inform future work of both myself and the Police and Crime Commissioner.”

The forum enjoyed the strong support of Nick Alston, PCC for Essex, who did not attend as the event was for women only.

He said: “I am delighted that the first Female Voices Forum has been a success. As Police and Crime Commissioner it is important for me to hear from all parts of the community about their experience of crime and policing and I look forward to my office hosting further forums across the rest of the county.”

The Female Voices Forum took place on Thursday March 26.

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PFCC for Essex, Kelvedon Park, London Road, Rivenhall, Witham, Essex, CM8 3HB
01245 291600

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