Archive for March 28th, 2008

£27,594 – £29,728
Rotherham Borough Council Neighbourhood and Adult Services

Based in the centre of Rotherham within the Community Safety Unit, this is a full time post, working 37 hours per week.

The main purpose of the job is to support the work of the Safer Rotherham Partnership and Rotherham MBC by ensuring a co-ordinated strategic response to domestic violence in Rotherham, to project manage the Safer Rotherham Partnership Domestic Violence Strategy, to co-ordinate and administer the Domestic Violence Priority Group and to oversee the delivery of relevant Rotherham wide training on domestic violence.

Although the main responsibilities of the post relate to domestic violence, there is a requirement for the post holder to carry out any other duties and responsibilities commensurate with the grade of the post as may be required, which will include providing support in other areas of crime and disorder when required.

Duties will include: supporting multi-agency work in delivering the crime and disorder priorities identified in the Partnership Plan, leading on work to develop relevant strategies and plans and supporting/advising internal and external customers on domestic violence/community safety issues.

We are looking for someone with excellent communication skills, experience and knowledge of domestic violence issues, partnership working within a community safety environment and of working with a range of statutory, voluntary and community sector agencies and facilitating good relationships.

For an informal discussion, please contact Steve Parry on (01709) 334565.

Closing date: 04/04/08

For an application form please contact Rotherham Connect, quoting your name, address and the reference number:
via telephone (01709) 336001 between 8am and 8pm Monday to Friday
e-mail jobline@rotherham.gov.uk.
Text 07781485111
or alternatively apply online at http://www.rotherham.gov.uk/jobs

The gender pay gap more than trebles when women reach their 30s, according to a new TUC report Closing the Gender Pay Gap, published on the eve of the 2008 TUC Women’s Conference says that adult women in all age groups earn less than men of the same age. The sharpest increase in the gender pay gap occurs when women reach their 30s. The difference between men’s and women’s full-time earnings rises from 3.3 per cent for women aged 22-29 to 11.2 per cent for women aged 30-39.

Several causes are cited for the gender pay gap, including the concentration of women in low-paid jobs such as childcare and cleaning, the undervaluing of women’s skills and the employment penalty for mothers. This ‘motherhood penalty’ partly explains why the gender pay gap increases so rapidly for women in their 30s.

The report also says that women are twice as likely to be poor as men. Over one in four women (27 per cent) are classified as poor, by being in the lowest earning bracket, compared to just 13 per cent of men. The average weekly disposable income for women is £127, £85 less than men.

A lack of quality, well-paid work is cited as one of the main causes of women’s poverty, as nearly half of all part-time jobs are low paid. Women working part-time earn nearly 40 per cent less per hour than men working full-time. With 7.5 million part-time workers, Britain has one of the highest proportions of this type of work in Europe, and more than three-quarters are female.

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: ‘We all expect our wages to increase as our careers progress. But women’s wages start to stagnate as early as their 30s and many are paying an unacceptable penalty simply for having children. Despite girls outperforming boys at school and at university, too many employers are still failing to make use of women’s skills. This waste of talent isn’t just hurting their take home pay, it’s harming the UK economy too.

‘When women earn poverty wages, the whole family suffers. If the Government is serious about ending child poverty, it must raise family income by creating better paid, quality part-time work Britain’s 7.5 million part-time workers.’

Minister for Women Harriet Harman said: ‘I just don’t believe women are less committed, less hard-working or less able than men. So they shouldn’t be paid less. The gender pay gap has fallen from 17% to 12% in the last ten years, and there will be some tough measures in the new Equality Bill which will come out later this year, to cut it even further.’

Campaigns officer at the Fawcett Society Kat Banyard said: ‘The gender pay gap is a national scandal. At every level in UK workplaces women are being paid less than men. The paucity of senior flexible roles and long working hours culture shuts women out of the boardroom and forces then into lower paid, lower status jobs when they have children.

‘This Government has an historic opportunity to end pay discrimination with preventative and remedial measures in the Single Equality Act. As a basic first step to rooting out inequality, all companies should be required to conduct pay audits. UK women cannot afford to wait any longer. We need action from Government now.’

Tables:
————————————————————————

Age Full-time pay for men Full-time pay for women Part-time pay for women Full-time gender pay gap Part-time gender pay gap
16-17 £4.75 £5.21 £5.14 -9.7% -8.2%
18-21 £7.28 £6.96 £6.96 4.4% 11.54%
22-29 £11.08 £10.72 £8.49 3.3% 23.4%
30-39 £15.64 £13.89 £10.70 11.2% 31.6%
40-49 £17.35 £13.39 £10.21 22.8% 41.2%
50-59 £16.22 £12.88 £9.89 20.6% 39.0%
60+ £13.36 £11.45 £8.90 14.3% 33.4%

————————————————————————

Bottom quintile Second quintile Third quintile Fourth quintile Top quintile Population (thousands)
Women 27 25 21 16 11 23003
Men 13 14 19 24 30 21524
All adults 20 20 20 20 20 44528

————————————————————————

Closing the Gender Pay Gap:
An update report for TUC Women’s Conference 2008

Introduction

This report uses official data and recent research into the gender pay gap to examine the position of women within the labour market and the causes of the continuing pay inequity they experience.

The report shows that, while the pay gap experienced by women continues to narrow, with the full time pay gap now at 17.2% and the part time pay gap at 35.6%, the underlying causes of the pay gap persist. Undervaluation of women’s work, a persistent employment penalty for mothers, occupational gender segregation, and discriminatory treatment in the workplace continue to hamper efforts to further reduce the pay gap.

The interconnectedness of part-time work, occupational gender segregation and the onset of family responsibilities hits women in the UK particularly hard – they experience a larger pay gap than many other women in Europe. The UK pay gap is a third higher than the EU average.

Unequal pay doesn’t just hurt women – this report also highlights the cost of women’s unequal pay for everyone, with strong links between the gender pay gap and child poverty, skills shortages and a cost to the economy of the under-utilisation of women’s skills in excess of £11bn a year.

The findings of this report emphasise the critical need to tackle the penalties paid by part-time workers and mothers as well as for widespread cultural change to challenge the undervaluation of women’s work.

You can download a full copy of this report at http://www.tuc.org.uk/extras/genderpayreport08.pdf

Comment published by Third Sector Magazine from John Knight, head of policy and campaigns at Leonard Cheshire Disability: jk.thirdsector@googlemail.com

I often write in this column about the real difference that voluntary organisations make to people’s lives. This is certainly true in terms of how the voluntary sector affects the lives of many thousands of women.

Last Saturday marked the 100th anniversary of the first march to celebrate International Women’s Day. Since 1908, millions of women all over the world have been marching and organising against oppression, violence and discrimination on this day.

Where public services stop for women, voluntary services start. The importance of refuges and rape crisis centres cannot be overestimated. The plight of women asylum seekers fleeing violence and rape abroad is far too often unseen – by both the public and the state. The work of organisations to raise the profile of these issues and help women to establish safe havens here is often done against incredible odds.

Other voluntary organisations work abroad to save women’s lives and raise awareness. A good example of this work is Maternity Worldwide, which trains midwives and works with women to improve maternal health services and outcomes in sub-Saharan Africa.

As well as providing these services, women’s voluntary organisations also advocate and campaign to change laws and raise awareness of issues that have traditionally remained in the private sphere – such as rape in marriage, domestic violence and domestic slavery. Advertising campaigns and lobbying on these issues and others – abortion time limits, rape conviction rates, equal pay and even women’s representation in political institutions – are the lifeblood of many of these voluntary organisations.

Women’s voluntary organisations propel women’s issues into the public arena and to the top of the decision-making agenda. They support, advise and protect many thousands of women every day. Yet The Women’s Resource Centre reported last year that only 1.2 per cent of third sector funding goes to women’s organisations. Discrimination or what?

http://www.thirdsector.co.uk/news/Article/789709/comment-praise-womens-organisations/

Liverpool-based Worst Kept Secret has helped thousands of victims of abuse in their homes since it was launched in 2001.

But its current funding package has come to an end and it now needs about £100,000 to keep it going for another year.

Worst Kept Secret’s six employees are now being prepared for the worst by its parent organisation, Local Solutions, which also runs the ECHO’s Bullybusters service.

The helpline is supported by various grant bodies and trusts across the UK.

Because those sources have reached an end, Local Solutions has until the end of April to secure its future.

It submitted applications for council help yesterday.

Steve Taylor-Smith, Local Solutions’ strategy and development manager, said: “The best scenario would be a pot of cash to sustain the project.

“We are pursuing a number of grant-making trusts, but it is a matter of finding the money sooner rather than later, because the deadline is imminent.

“Staff are hopeful the financial issues can be bridged.

“They will not be suddenly told that they are out of a job – we have procedures to keep them informed.”

In its first five years alone, Worst Kept Secret dealt with more than 11,000 calls from domestic violence victims.

One staff member, who would not be named, said: “It is devastating for us on a personal level but it could be the end for such a valuable resource.

“Our service is free and the number does not show up on a landline bill, which is crucial if an abuser is very controlling.

“This would leave a tremendous gap for the victims of abuse. We feel we can really help these people.”

Worst Kept Secret can be contacted in confidence on 0800 028 3398.

http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/liverpool-news/local-news/2008/03/26/cash-crisis-hits-abuse-advice-team-100252-20674835/

In a school in south London, women in headscarves are learning English, childcare skills and citizenship, to smooth their integration into British life.

The courses are encouraged under a new government policy to “empower” Muslim women, ultimately to combat the threat from Islamist violence, a threat made brutally clear when four homegrown suicide bombers killed 52 people in London in 2005.

Triggered by events from racial violence in northern England in 2001 to the London bombings, British policy on ethnic minorities has shifted from a “laissez-faire” approach to encouraging integration or “community cohesion”, said Rick Muir, research fellow at the Institute for Public Policy Research.

But Shazia Qayum’s story illustrates the obstacles still to be overcome in a country with more than 1.6 million Muslims. Qayum, who lives in the northern city of Derby, says her family kept her away from school for a year at age 15, planning a forced marriage to a Pakistani cousin. She ran away from her family after her marriage: now aged 28, she works with women who are undergoing similar experiences: “In the eyes of my parents, I am dead,” she said. “The surprising thing … is that no one asked the question where I was. No one from education welfare. No one from social services and no one from the police.”

This sort of alienation and isolation is one problem that the “empowerment” scheme could address. The policy’s backers say the main goal is for Britain’s estimated 800,000 Muslim women to become more influential in their communities, which might stem the threat from disaffected young Muslim men.

“Muslim women have a unique role to play in tackling the spread of violent extremism,” Communities Secretary Hazel Blears said as she unveiled the plan, backed by Prime Minister Gordon Brown. “I want to see more done in communities to build the capacity of Muslim women to shape their communities and to engage with disaffected groups.”

It’s a message that resonates with the women at the Bellenden Old School in south London, but the policy has been denounced as patronising and clumsy by some Muslim leaders. “I know I can offer something to this country,” said Ines Meddah, a 26-year-old Algerian lawyer at the London school. “But sometimes I feel like I am in a prison because I struggle to share my know-how.” From a new citizenship test for people seeking to live in Britain to a recent suggestion that young people swear an oath of allegiance to the Queen, the pressure to integrate is mounting — but it faces complex and deep-rooted obstacles.

In a document published in January, Blears highlighted figures showing almost two-thirds of Muslim women in Britain are “economically inactive” — as opposed to about a quarter of all women. Her plan would see tens of millions of pounds spent through local communities to raise their involvement. “We want the government to help those who are educated who want to (achieve) something in this country,” said Meddah, who has lived in London for two years.

But despite visible backing for the scheme from Brown, some Muslim community leaders are alienated by the way it has been presented. “Why is it that anything that has to do with Muslims, has to do with terrorism?” said Reefat Drabu, Chair of the Social and Family Affairs Committee of the Muslim Council of Britain. While in favour of female empowerment, she said linking it with reducing the threat of terrorism was ludicrous. “If they want to combat terrorism, they really need to get out of their denial and realise that they need to look at the policies, as far as foreign policies, policies at home, domestic policies to win the hearts and minds of people,” she said.

At the heart of the issue is the rise in tension between Muslims and other Britons since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington, the 2005 London attacks and thwarted car bomb attacks in London and Glasgow last year. The Muslim Public Affairs Committee, which calls itself Britain’s largest Muslim civil liberties group, said Blears’ initiative was missing the larger point — discrimination. “What Blears seems to fail to recognise is that women are unequivocally recognised by Islam as the moral authority in their homes,” the organisation commented on its Web site. “They do not need condescending advice on how they can better fulfil their roles in this sphere.”

Another Muslim scholar said the scheme was ill-conceived. “What does the government mean to say when they want to empower Muslim women? Against whom or what? Their men and their ‘traditions’, of course,” said Professor Werner Menski, chair of the Centre for Ethnic Minority Studies at SOAS. “All this talk about wanting to listen will throw some money at a problem that is far bigger than just women’s empowerment.”

The women at the London school — from countries as culturally diverse as Somalia, Iran, Algeria and Syria — urged against generalising Muslim experiences in Britain and in so doing propagating common prejudices. “One must not put everyone in the same basket,” Meddah said. “Here there are pharmacists, teachers, engineers, we are not extremists. We just want to have a good life, that’s all. We want to live well in this country.”

In pockets of some Asian communities in Britain, the notion of “empowering” women is directly opposed to imported rural traditions restricting their roles. In extreme cases, women’s lives may be at risk if they try to break the mould. A British government-funded study by consultant Nazia Khanum in early March found that in one town alone — Luton, where the largest ethnic minority is Pakistani — there were more than 300 approaches a year to external bodies for advice of some sort on forced marriage. In Luton, as in other towns and cities in northern England, the Asian community is largely segregated from the white, and concerns are mounting over the number of girls whose parents are removing them from education in order to marry them off. Britain’s Forced Marriage Unit receives more than 5,000 inquiries a year and last year intervened in 400 cases, many of them people forced into marriage with someone from overseas.

“Since it is mostly men who are perpetrators of forced marriages and domestic violence, the education of men is essential as a preventative measure,” Khanum’s report said.

For a video report on forced marriages in Britain, double-click on: http://www.reuters.com/news/video?videoId=78882&videoChannel=1

http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/L19739136.htm

British courts are overturning decisions taken by immigration officers that would have protected men and women from being forced into marriage.

The director of UK Visas said that appeals to the courts were often successful because people sponsoring foreigners to enter Britain were too frightened to admit that the applicants were being forced into marriage. Mark Sedwill said that 452 visas for Pakistani applicants were refused last year on the ground of family abuse, of which the majority were because of fears of forced marriage. He said that 116 cases were taken to appeal and 37 were successful.

Victims of forced marriage may even have been put in the position of giving evidence to the immigration tribunal in Britain to back their spouses’ appeals, Mr Sedwill admitted. “This is the real tragedy of this situation, that sponsors are forced into this position,” he told the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee inquiry into domestic violence yesterday.

The only right of appeal against the immigration tribunal’s decision is on a point of law.

Mr Sedwill said that sponsors of spouses or fiancées were often unwilling to make a public statement about the nature of the family abuse, including forced marriage, because they were frightened of the family reaction. He said that, of the 452 refusals, 252 involved British citizens who had reluctantly been required to sponsor an applicant from Pakistan and 86 were vulnerable adults, including people who were severely disabled.

One of the cases involved a disabled man in his early thirties whose parents could no longer look after him, so they attempted to marry him to a girl from the Indian sub-continent, he said.

In addition, there were 30 reluctant sponsors of Bangladeshi visa applications and 12 of Indian applications.

Overall 5,500 spousal settlement applications from the Indian sub-continent were refused last year, he said. “Within that 5,500 there are quite a number of cases where there has been some sort of compulsion, where the couple have not met or are under 18,” Mr Sedwill told MPs.

The committee was also told that people who sponsored an applicant for a visa were not routinely interviewed by officials, despite growing concern within the Government about the issue of forced marriage.

Applicants are interviewed formally and have to answer between 50 and 100 questions.

Mr Sedwill said: “They [sponsors] don’t necessarily go through a formal process of interview. In all of those cases where a sponsor has let us know that forced marriage is an issue, the sponsor will be interviewed either by telephone or in person.

“It’s not an immigration interview, but they will be interviewed by consular staff or by the forced marriage unit in the UK in order to gather the information that allows us to make a decision.”

Meg Munn, a junior Foreign Office Minister, said that one reason why sponsors were not interviewed was because of the “sheer volume” of the situation. A total of 47,000 spouses entered Britain on settlement visas last year, including 17,000 from the Indian sub-continent.

Bob Russell, Liberal Democrat MP for Colchester, accused the Government of complacency. “I do not understand why the sponsor and the applicant cannot be interviewed to find out if the marriage is genuine or not,” he said.

Forced Marriage Unit’s phone number, to be called if you are worried that you or someone you know may be forced into marriage: 0207008 0151

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article3621619.ece

Oldham Council has confirmed that 36 Asian pupils have seemingly vanished from school registers, raising fears that some of them may have become victims of forced marriages.

Oldham is one of 15 local authorities considered a ‘high-risk zone’ for the practice and was ordered to provide information to the Government on children missing from school registers as part of an investigation into forced marriages and domestic violence in the UK.

The Oldham figure includes primary school children and secondary school pupils, which would suggest it would be wrong to conclude that all had fallen victim of the controversial practice.

“The figure needs to be considered extremely carefully as it is not possible to determine how many of the missing pupils, if any of them at all, have been forced into marriages,” said a council spokesman. “In many instances pupils will be missing from registers because of extended holidays abroad, and so on.”

A recent study claims the number of women who have become victims of forced marriages in the UK has been drastically under-estimated and could be as high as 4,000.

Women who become victims often have no idea who their husbands will be and have no rights once they are married.

Oldham Council is organising a conference on forced marriage in July and has been praised for its pro-active approach.

“We would emphasise that Oldham has a growing reputation for its protection of children and – through the Local Safeguarding Children Board – has a forced marriage protocol within existing procedures,” said the council spokesman.

Kay Knox, an Oldham councillor for 21 years who has spent the past eight years specialising in issues affecting women of all backgrounds, has condemned the practice of forced marriage.

“I am not against arranged marriages but I am very much against forced marriages,” she said. “In this society women have basic freedoms that a forced marriage can take away. They are entitled to work on an equal footing to men.”

She added: “You only have to look at the example of Police Superintendant Caroline Ball to see what women in Oldham are capable of. The mental torment women can experience when they are forced to give up these rights is often damaging to family life.

“I welcome both the Government’s and the council’s positive stance and hope the practice becomes less prevalent.”

http://www.oldhamadvertiser.co.uk/news/s/1042558_borough_a_high_risk_for_forced_marriages

Officers from the Public Protection Unit (PPU) will work with partner agencies as part of the campaign.

Activity in Preston will include working with Preston Women’s Refuge to hold information sessions to provide help, support and advice to those suffering domestic violence.

The police will also conduct targeted arrests of suspected offenders.

National figures show domestic violence accounts for around 15 per cent of all violent crime, and will involve one in four women and one in six men at some point in their lives.

Tragically, two women are murdered every week in the UK as a result of domestic, accounting for 35 per cent of all murders.

If you are a victim of domestic violence call the Preston Women’s Refuge on 01772 201601 or the South Ribble Women’s Refuge on 01772 435865.

http://www.prestoncitizen.co.uk/news/headlines/display.var.2149063.0.domestic_violence_awareness_campaign.php

Date: Saturday 12 April, 2008
Time: 5.00-9:00pm
Address: University of London Union (ULU) Room 3D, Malet Street London WC1E 7HY
Closest underground: Russell Square

A year after the world was stunned by images of a 17 year old girl being stoned to death in Iraqi Kurdistan; an international panel will debate the rise of honour killings, violence against women, gender apartheid and political Islam in Kurdistan/Iraq and the Middle East.

The high profile speakers are women’s rights activists, academics and experts from Kurdistan, Iraq, Iran, Sweden, New Zealand, and Britain and include:
– Dr Sandra Phelps: Head of Sociology Department, Kurdistan University
– Houzan Mahmoud: representative of Organisation Women’s Freedom in Iraq
– Heather Harvey: head of women’s campaign-Amnesty International in UK
– Maryam Namazie: Spokesperson of Equal Rights Now
– Maria Hagberg: Cofounder of Network against Honour Killings in Sweden
– Azar Majedi: Chair of Organisation for Women’s Liberation in Iran
Chair: Maria Exall, Communication Workers’ Union National Executive in UK

For more information and to confirm please contact the organiser: Houzan Mahmoud: houzan2007@yahoo.com Tel: 07534264481

Organisation of Women’s Freedom in Iraq- Abroad representative
http://www.equalityiniraq.com

On April 7th 2008, Kurdish teenager Du’a Khalil was brutally stoned to death by hundreds of men, including her uncle and some of her closest relatives.

The crime was a so-called ‘honour’ killing, occasioned by art student Du’a’s romantic relationship with a local shopkeeper. The event scandalised the world, as the perpetrators filmed the violence on their mobile phones, which footage found its way onto the internet, where the world could see the murderous glee of the crowd and the collaboration of security forces.

ICAHK is asking you to remember Du’a Khalil and the thousands of other victims of so-called ‘honour’ this April 7th.

What you can do:

Find out more about Du’a Khalil http://www.stophonourkillings.com/?name=Content&pid=37

1. Spread the word
Write a letter to your local papers, raising the issue of so-called ‘honour’ killing.

2. Blog for Du’a
Write a blog entry for Du’a Khalil on the 7th April, perhaps using one of our graphics available here, or post about her story on your forums

3. Contact the KRG
Send an email http://www.krg.org/contact.asp?lngnr=12&smap=01000000 to the Kurdistan Regional Government asking what progress there has been in finding and prosecuting Du’a’s killers and what they intend to do to reduce the rate of ‘honour’ killings in Kurdistan (there have been at least 300 other victims since Du’a’s death.)

4. Sign the petition
Sign the petition http://www.petitiononline.com/kurdish/petition.html, join the Facebook group http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=8922389858&ref=share

5. Tell someone about it
Whether your friend, relative or workmate, use April 7th to tell Du’a’s story and highlight the inhumanity of ‘honour’ killings across the world

6. Get together
Organise an event to remember Du’a, whether its a candle-lit vigil or a private gathering to remember her. You can discuss ideas and get together in this thread http://www.stophonourkillings.com/?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&p=315 and please send us your photographs.

7. Put up a poster
Print out and put up a poster in your window to show that Du’a Khalil is not forgotten – download (large pdf files) colour poster (http://www.stophonourkillings.com/Du’a%20poster.pdf) or black and white poster (http://www.stophonourkillings.com/Du’a%20posterMONO.pdf)

8. Join the Facebook event
A Facebook event has been created: click here http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=9391292086&ref=mf to join.

9. Read a good book
The anthology written in honour of Du’a Khalil Nothing But Red http://nothingbutred.wordpress.com/ will be launched on April 7th with proceeds going to Equality Now http://www.equalitynow.org/

If you have any other suggestions about how to mark this terrible anniversary, please contact us http://www.stophonourkillings.com/?name=ContactPro

http://www.stophonourkillings.com/
Stop honour killings. Save lives!