Submission to Rashida Manjoo, Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women
In April 2014, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, undertook a two week investigative mission to the United Kingdom to study the manifestations of violence perpetrated in the family and in the community. I had the opportunity to submit to her my recommendations on issues she should query the government on and include in her investigation. Here is a very brief overview of my submission, which included case studies – however these have been omitted for confidentiality reasons.
Mental Health inequalities faced by women and girls of Asian and Muslim background.
The coalition’s approach to mental health and equality does not take into account the massive inequalities faced by Black and Ethnic Minority (BAME) groups in accessing treatment, pathways into care, support and outcomes. The Mental Health Equalities Act 2010 failed to address key issues around race and mental health.
One key issue of concern is the fact that young Asian women and girls, in particular of Muslim background, are suffering with high rates of suicide, self-harm and eating disorders, yet they consistently have poor/low engagement with mental health services. Data, indicates that this same cohort have low rates of depression, i.e. they are not being diagnosed, and/or are not seen by services.
They are also facing sexual abuse and rape within their own communities, but government and mainstream media organisation repeatedly fail to recognise this and address it. BME communities are still perceived as either a menace to society or victims of their own misfortune in terms of culture, faith and identity.
This is demonstrated by the following case studies. (These have been omitted).
Previously in 2005 the government, produced an action plan ‘Delivering Race Equality’ to address these issues, however despite ending in 2010 the DRE action plan has not been adequately implemented. The issues of institutional racism, is an issue which has largely been ignored. It is the elephant in the room, that needs to be tackled and addressed by mental health services, in order for them to meet the complex needs of their BME clients. Finally, the consequences of structural violence has not been acknowledged and meaningful policy has not been created to address this.
I would ask the government the following:
- How can they address the varied and culturally specific issues faced by Muslims/Asians without demonising and problematising them?
- Can they address the structural violence experienced by Muslims/Asians, in the UK, which is disproportionately affecting women.
- All mental health professionals should undertake faith and culturally sensitive training.
- Faith and culturally sensitive services, should be provided in areas with high density BME populations.
- agencies should work in partnership with grassroots organisations in order to support BME victims of sexual and domestic violence.
- Better monitoring of ethnicity within mental health services.
- Better research to understand the complex reasons behind the disproportionately high mental health inequalities faced by BME groups.
The press release published at the end of Rashida Manjoo’s mission can be found here, which I am pleased to note highlights the following finding:
Women’s organizations report that black and minority ethnic (BME) and migrant women
experience a disproportionate rate of domestic homicide, and that Asian women are up to
three times more likely to commit suicide than other women. Young BME women, in
particular, are also more likely to experience domestic violence from multiple
perpetrators, such as extended family members.