Southall Black Sisters (the saga continued)

// 29 February 2008

It’s not often we recommend an article by a bloke, but Sunny Hundal has written a great piece on why Southall Black Sisters is a. important and b. meeting government aims but c. still being delisted for funding.

The protest at Ealing Council on Tuesday ended with SBS protestors being removed – why? Because they dared respond to the claims that there is evidence that female violence against men is increasing from a Conservative Council member.

As Hundal points out SBS has been caught in the political crossfire between Government ideas about combating extremism (mind I don’t see many Christian fundamentalists being included here) which has led to commentators decrying the focus on Muslim and Asian (remember the two are used almost interchangably). Many people claim that groups focussing on specific ethnicities (like Black and Minority Ethnic which is, of course, actually really broad) is creating separatism. Of course not funding a long-lived and well-used service like SBS isn’t the answer, but it’s certainly Ealing Council’s answer, sadly.

Comments From You

Lesley Woodburn // Posted 18 July 2008 at 1:44 am

Feminist imperialism?

I have followed and supported Southall Black Sisters (SBS) to regain its funding and have recently learnt of Refuge’s bid to take SBS funds for its own organisation. I cannot help thinking that Refuge, aware of the high profile of SBS case and what the closure of such a pioneering and active organisation would mean to women and feminists everywhere , that this is a form of feminist imperialism. I have yet to read any comment from Refuge or its chief executive stating why a 9.4 million organisation requires SBS’s meagre in comparison 100,000 funding from Ealing Council. When did Rufuge approach Ealing for this funding? when Refuge speakers spoke against violence on women alongside SBS on the Million Women Rise IWD demonstration or after? why has national women’s rights organisions such as Women’s Aid has given support to SBS Refuge not done so. Why?

“We are extremely disturbed to note that the organisation Refuge has decided to make a bid for the recycled funds that should be awarded to SBS. Refuge is a national domestic violence charity that has considerable resources at its disposal. In 2006/7 for instance, its total annual income was £9.4 million. Refuge has made a bid for the £100,000 to provide a domestic violence service in Ealing. Needless to say, this move undermines our struggle for funding and for our autonomy. By way of a gesture of support, Refuge wrote to Ealing Council requesting it to make reserve funds available for SBS following the bidding process! It is a matter of great disappointment to SBS that a well known, well resourced national organisation like Refuge is colluding in the closure of a vital specialist organisation. Given its annual income, its bid for the £100,000 represents a ‘drop in the ocean’, but the same funds will make all the difference to our work with black and minority women. Its attitude displays a patronising, unprincipled and indifferent approach to our struggles as black and minority women.”

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