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SAS Rights: Who Are We? A NOT FOR PROFIT registered Community Interest Company

We aim to speak up and speak out against Gender-Based Violence and to help those that need support, or we will refer to an agency that can.

We are a diverse team of activists, safeguarding, equality and inclusion specialists. We are informed by grassroots experience, as well as discreet, sometimes messy but always heartfelt engagement. We never underestimate the value of lived experience in informing what we do. We know communities keep growing, changing, and expanding (like the universe!) so we never become complacent, we try to adapt, and we know that every day we may learn something new and unexpected.

The short video at the end of this information will tell you about our ideas. This is not new work for us: we have been involved in activism in its various guises for over 30 years as individuals and it makes sense to formalise our organisation. I am Saima, the founding director of SAS RIGHTS. I live and work in Blackburn, Lancashire and my focus is on crisis prevention. But what I too often have to deal with, sadly, is crisis, including rape, murder, forced marriage, female genital mutilation and sexual exploitation.

My co-directors are Johanna and Mmapula. Johanna Stiebert is an academic based in Leeds. Mmapula Kebaneilwe is also an academic living and working in Botswana. Together we lead SAS RIGHTS. We have an amazingly diverse group of friends, associates, volunteers and participants. Some are based in Lancashire, others elsewhere in the UK, and a growing number are dispersed across other parts of the world. You can see some of us on the poster! Gender-Based Violence (GBV) is a global pandemic. And during the Covid crisis alarming statistics in the UK and elsewhere have highlighted how cases of domestic abuse have risen by a reliably estimated 20%.

Research from the United Nations shows that femicide is another global issue of deep concern. Femicide, too, is prevalent in rich and in poor countries alike. Data from 2017 highlights that women are far more likely to be murdered by someone they know than by a stranger. Women are far more at risk in their own families and communities than walking on dark streets! The issue of gendered violence cannot be ignored, because there is no safe haven for many women, especially not in their own homes.

Our collaboration between academic and grassroots activists aims for an evidence-based approach drawing on lived experience. It aims also for intersectionality. Underpinned with expertise in multiple areas and with diverse sets of experiences we aim, together, to offer practical help.

Whatever we can do to achieve this, we will do it. We will use art and other creative means, film, workshops, lobbying, teaching, or just plain-old speaking out without fear. We do not acquiesce under pressure. We will use any privilege we have or opportunity we see to stay outspoken on this issue. In doing so, we hope our activism can help those who already provide support services to take some of the strain. We hope our activism will engage everyone committed to this agenda, to prevent crisis and the need for crisis support, until gender-based violence is eliminated.

Your support would mean so much, as so much of what we deal with is categorised as 'taboo' . With your help we can bring to life the reality of the violence and abuse faced by men, women and boys and girls across the world.

Listen to my video if you have time. Thank you for your support!


Saima Afzal

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