The Iranian & Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation (IKWRO) – Group Award Nominee – 2007

IKWRO was established in 2002 by a group of Iranian and Kurdish refugee women who identified the need for a service to provide support, advice and advocacy for women and girls of Middle Eastern origin, particularly Farsi, Kurdish and Arab speaking who are at risk of so called honour killings, domestic violence and forced marriages. IKWRO’s work falls under two main headings: direct services for individuals and awareness raising and campaigning work in the realisation that ‘honour’ killings is an unknown violence against women with no appropriate help for them. IKWRO managed to make a high profile of ‘honour’ based violence against women and children in the UK and internationally, identified the needs of services for women in need of help, and helped make changes in policy and also in the justice system. For many years, the police, law enforcement agencies and services generally have been reluctant to intervene to protect women from Middle Eastern and Asian backgrounds alleging reasons of ‘cultural sensitivity’. The theme of ‘cultural hesitance’ to intervene recurs throughout IKWRO’s campaigning and casework when advocating on behalf of individual women. The service is entirely run by a dedicated team of ten trained volunteers including former service users, and one full-time member of staff. Last year, IKWRO provided direct services to 240 women from throughout the Greater London area. Of these, 46 cases involved service users at risk of ‘honour’ killing. An additional 350 women received support and guidance over the phone. During the last five years, IKWRO has helped hundreds of women in the UK. IKWRO won the ‘Rising Star award’ by the Lilith Project (Eaves Housing) for the Best New Voluntary Sector Organisation in 2006.