Over 300 women attended the Sadi Awaaz Suno (Listen to our Voices) event held at the Woodville Halls in Gravesham on Friday March 11. The event was organised in partnership by Rethink Sahayak and Kent Equality Cohesion Council.

The aim of the event was to look at issues such as domestic violence, equality and human rights, forced marriages, women’s health issues and the different support services available to women around Kent. It also provided an opportunity for women to socialise and watch a full array of cultural performances.

The main guest speakers were Deputy Chief Constable Gary Beautridge and Nazir Afzal the Director of Communities at the Crown Prosecution Service. Gary spoke about his visit to India and the work which was undertaken with the Indian Police. Kent Police have piloted some innovative work around domestic violence and he provided information around support mechanisms available to women who are suffering. Nazir spoke about some of the recent cases he has been involved in which have been to trial around honour killings and forced marriage including the murder of Geeta Aulak in West London. Nazir said it was important for members of the community to speak out about these issues and that those who were suffering not to suffer in silence.

Gurvinder Sandher the Director of Kent Equality Cohesion Council who spoke about equality and human rights issues commented “We have had a very good response to our event. The issues that were discussed today were very hard hitting and it was very positive to see so many people in attendance. I believe that all in attendance will have learnt something from today, I was personally very moved by the passionate and emotive presentation given by Nazir Afzal as he was talking about real cases that he has been involved in, in recent months. It is shocking that in this day and age that people within the Asian community can be murdered because they want a divorce. We need to work together as a community to challenge these stereotypes around honour and respect”

Carol Gosal the Area Service Manager for Kent and Sussex for Rethink said “A lot of hard work went into pulling this event together. It all proved to be worthwhile with the fantastic attendance we had. Rethink is committed to working in partnership with Kent Equality Cohesion Council and our statutory and community partners to make a positive difference to women who may need help and support with some of the issues which were discussed at the event.”