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SBS Timeline

1979 | 1980 | 1983 | 1984 | 1985 | 1986 | 1987 | 1988 | 1989 | 1990 | 1991 | 1992 | 1993 | 1995 | 1996 | 1997 | 1998 | 1999 | 2000 | 2001 | 2002 | 2003 | 2004 | 2005 | 2006 | 2007 | 2008 | 2009 | 2010 | 2011

For a full narrative on the first ten years of SBS history, please see Against the Grain, Southall Black Sisters, 1990, available for purchase from Southall Black Sisters.

1979

  • Founding of Southall Black Sisters.
  • Hundreds arrested and injured in police operation to stop mass protest against NF presence in Southall. Blair Peach killed by Special Patrol Group Officers. Defence campaign followed.

1980

  • Chix strike, Slough. Many Southall women on mass picket.
  • Campaign against virginity testing of Asian immigrant women.
  • Mrs Dhillon and her children set on fire by her husband. SBS protests.

1983

  • GLC (Greater London Council) funding received. Southall Black Women’s Centre established.

1984

  • Krishna Sharma found hanged at home. Demonstration outside the house. Slogan “They say it’s suicide, we say it’s murder” “Black Women’s tradition/Struggle not submission” Links set up with other campaigns on domestic violence.
  • Dispute in Brent refuge starts. Management locked out. Demand to run projects separately.
  • Miners’ strike support activity.

1985

  • Balwant Kaur murdered by her husband in Brent Asian Women’s Refuge. Campaign to ensure her husband’s conviction.
  • Refuge demands conceded.

1986

  • The Gurdip Kaur campaign initiated in Reading following the murder of an Asian woman. Pickets and demos. Husband and brother-in-law conspired to murder. Brother-in-law charged with murder, got off with manslaughter. Charges against husband dropped.
  • National demonstration of women against violence against women organised by Network of Women.
  • Helped to produce film, “A Fearful Silence”, on domestic violence in Asian communities with Azad Productions.
  • Split in Southall Black Women’s Centre.

1987

  • New centre established in the name of Southall Black Sisters.
  • Anti-deportation campaign “Josephine & Peter must stay”.
  • Dominion Centre campaign on safety of women workers.

1988

  • Save SBS campaign. Funding threatened. Council lobbied. Slogan “Where will women go?”
  • Ealing FAB (Fight the Alton Bill which was an attempt to restrict women’s access to abortion) Campaign.
  • Launch of single homelessness campaign.

1989

  • International Women’s Day meeting called “The resurgence of Religion? What price do women pay?’ SBS & Labour Party, Southall Women’s Section issue statement in support of Salman Rushdie.
  • March and rally on tenth anniversary of Blair Peach’s murder by police.
  • First meeting of Women Against Fundamentalism.
  • Women Against Fundamentalism picket religious Muslim demonstration demanding an extension of blasphemy laws. Demands include a secularization of British state, no state funding of religious education and abolition of the blasphemy law. Slogans “Our Tradition: struggle not submission”, “Religious leaders don’t speak for us”, “Blasphemy laws police dissent”, “Fear is your weapon/Courage is ours”.

1990

  • Publication of Against the Grain: A celebration of survival and struggle.

1991

  • Set up the Save Our Schools Campaign with local groups, teachers and parents in Southall to prevent two schools opting out and becoming Sikh only schools.
  • Helped to launch “Remember Vandana Patel Campaign” with local Asian women’s groups.
  • Launch of the Free Kiranjit Ahluwalia campaign, a woman who is given a life sentence for murder for setting her violent husband on fire in a final act of survival.

1992

  • Kiranjit is released and her original conviction is quashed and reduced to manslaughter.
  • SBS gives evidence on how the one-year rule in immigration traps newly married women in violent situations to the Home Affairs Select Committee’s inquiry into domestic violence.
  • SBS is awarded the Martin Ennals Civil Liberties Award by Liberty.
  • Memorial held for Abnash Bisla, killed by her husband. SBS also demonstrated outside the husband’s house with a number of other Asian women’s groups.

1993

  • Pragna Patel, a member of the Management Committee, wins two Cosmopolitan Achievement Awards: in the Public Service category and is also the overall winner for the year.
  • Formed Alliance Against Communalism and for Democracy in South Asia with a number of local groups in Southall and Brent in the wake of the destruction of Babri Masjid in India by Hindu fundamentalist and Hindu and Muslim riots. Aimed to fight communal forces in South Asia and the UK.

1995

  • SBS starts a campaign against the one-year immigration rule and wins Advice 2000′s ‘Challenge Award’ in ‘recognition of our efforts to gain justice’.
  • SBS sends a delegation of women to attend World Conference on Women in Beijing, China.
  • Successfully appealed in the case of an Asian woman with mental health problems who killed her child and had her conviction for murder reduced to manslaughter.

1996

  • SBS makes a submission on immigration, asylum and domestic violence to the UN hearings on the International Convention for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
  • Memorial for Imtiaz Begum and her four children killed by her husband/their father in Birmingham and Bristol. Worked with local Asian women’s groups.
  • SBS starts campaign to free Zoora Shah, a woman serving life for the murder of her abuser, Mohammad Azam in Bradford in 1992.

1997

  • Secured a first-ever conviction of a husband in a marital rape in the Asian community. Members of his family were also sentenced for abusing his wife.
  • Publication of Circle of Light, the story of Kiranjit Ahluwalia’s life, co-written with Rahila Gupta, a member of the MC.

1998

  • Zoora Shah loses her appeal against her conviction for the murder of Mohammed Azam. SBS continues to explore other legal avenues including representations to the Home Secretary to reduce her 20-year tariff.
  • The conclusion of an internal review of SBS management and administrative structures resulted in SBS moving from a collective structure to a hierarchy.
  • SBS is nominated for the Ethnic Minority Charity for the Year by the Ethnic Minority Media Awards sponsored by Nat West Bank.

1999

  • The House of Lords delivers a historic judgement in the Shah and Islam case: women who fear gender persecution should be recognized as refugees. We had advised one of the women and her legal team.
  • The Home Office announces concessions on the one-year rule for abused spouse/ partners subject to a probationary period following discussions with SBS.
  • SBS is invited to join The Home Office Working Group to inquire into the issue of forced marriage.
  • SBS, along with five other women’s organizations, are the beneficiaries of money raised by a ‘V-Day’ charity event – the first celebrity readings of Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues in the UK.
  • Hannana Siddiqui, Joint Co-ordinator, is nominated for the Emma Humphries Memorial Prize.
  • SBS supports the Lufthansa Skychef workers, most of whom were Asian women, sacked for going on a lawful one-day strike in protest against new working practices.

2000

  • Southall Black Sisters Trust is set up.
  • After representations to the Home Secretary by SBS, Zoora Shah’s sentence is cut down from 20 to 12 years.
  • SBS begins work on the case of Morgan James Smith in conjunction with Justice for Women and Liberty. The case involved the House of Lords deliberating on the defence of provocation under homicide law. Their conclusions reinforced the crucial advances made on the law of provocation in the cases of Ahluwalia, Thornton and Humphries.
  • Laid flowers outside the house of Jaspal Sohal, a local woman killed by her husband, who was later convicted of her murder.
  • The Home Office Working Group on Forced Marriage produces its report. SBS resigns from the Working Group over the issue of mediation.
  • SBS celebrates its 21st anniversary.
  • Pragna Patel is nominated for the Emma Humphries Memorial Prize.

2001

  • SBS makes a presentation on the intersection between race and gender at the preparatory meetings for the UN Conference on Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance and oral evidence to the UN Commission on the Status of Women, 45th Session, in New York.
  • SBS submits research to the Home Office on the operation of the concessions to the one-year immigration rule since they were announced in summer 1999.
  • Written and oral evidence is given to the United Nations Working Group on Contemporary Forms of Slavery in Geneva.
  • SBS publishes Forced Marriage: an abuse of human rights to mark the first anniversary of the Home Office Working Group Report, A Choice by Right to assess government progress. It makes a number of recommendations for future action.
  • Kiranjit Ahluwalia wins the Asian Woman of Courage award and SBS is given a Lifetime’s Achievement Award organized by Media Moguls.

2002

  • SBS is involved in AWAAZ, a loose network of individuals and organisations, formed in the wake of the Gujarat genocide of Muslims, to oppose religious fundamentalism in the UK and Indian Sub-continent
  • SBS sought a judicial review of a coroner’s decision not to hold an inquest and not to recognise SBS as an interested third party after the collapse of a criminal trial against the husband of Nazia Bi who was burnt to death with her child. This was the first time a voluntary organisation challenged a Coroner’s Court in a domestic violence case. Although the High Court refused leave for judicial review, SBS continues to campaign on issues raised in the case.
  • SBS successfully helped a young Asian woman secure the first annulment of marriage in England and Wales in a forced marriage case.
  • Hannana Siddiqui wins the Women of the Year Award from GG2 – Garavi Gujarat newspaper.
  • Home Office Minister Beverley Hughes announces further reforms to the domestic violence concession of the One Year Rule and incorporates it into the Immigration Rules following consultation with SBS.
  • SBS holds a historic series of regional consultation meetings with black and minority women and women’s groups to start a national initiative on violence against black and minority women.
  • SBS holds a vigil and a public meeting to highlight the issues of race, child abuse and State accountability following the death of Victoria Climbié. The event was jointly organised with the Family Foundation Group in support of the Victoria Climbié Family Campaign and acted as a memorial to Victoria. It was also the first meeting to examine the role of Ealing Council in Victoria’s case.

2003

  • Hannana Siddiqui nominated by the Government’s Women and Equality Unit for the Asian Women’s Achievement Award.

2004

  • SBS Trust buys its own building.
  • SBS holds its first national conference on raising standards in tackling violence against black and ethnic minority women.
  • Hannana Siddiqui, member of SBS, was offered an MBE, which she decline.

2005

  • Hannana Siddiqui receives a Masters of Art from the University of Teesside for her work at SBS on domestic violence

2006

  • A focus of homicide and suicide cases sees SBS’ intervention in the case of Samira Nazia’s brother and cousin convicted of her murder
  • Navjit Sidhu commits suicide with her two children by jumping off the bridge at Southall British Rail station
  • Court of Appeal dismisses the Crown of Appeal against the Old Bailey’s ruling discontinuing charges of grievous bodily harm (GBH) against the husband of Gurjit Dhaliwal in a landmark case of an Asian woman who committed suicide after experiencing domestic violence. In response to this injustice, Ian Duncan Smith MP introduces a Private Members Bill to introduce an offence of liability for suicide
  • SBS is wins the Liberty and JUSTICE human rights award on Forced Marriages
  • The motion picture, Provoked, featuring Ashwariya Rai, is released based on the life Kiranjit Ahluwalia and on how SBS helped her to overturn her conviction and reduce her sentence to manslaughter

2007

  • Hannana Siddiqui receives an award from the Metropolitan Police Services Operational Command Unit for her commitment and dedication to tackling violence against Black and Asian women across the capital
  • Pragna Patel receives the Asian Woman award for excellence
  • SBS receives a Political and Public lifetime achievement award from Asian Voice presented by Keith Vaz
  • The Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Bill is enacted
  • Banaz Mahmod is murdered by her father, uncle and other men in the community in a so called ‘honour killing’ for having a boyfriend. SBS works on aspects of the case which resulted in a conviction
  • Surjit Atwal was also subjected to an ‘honour killing’ by her husband and mother-in-law. SBS campaigns and succeeds in seeing that her murderers are found guilty and appropriately sentenced
  • An inquest also hears of the case of Ravinder Dokal, who committed suicide in Southall following harassment from her parents-in-laws

2007/8

  • SBS faces funding cuts from Ealing Council that could mean a complete closure of its operations.  Ealing Council argues that specialist groups are no longer necessary and pushes its own interpretation of ‘Social Cohesion’. SBS users challenge Ealing Council and win a landmark victory at the High Court, deeming Ealing Council’s action as unlawful and contravening the Race Relations Act. The case has enabled black and ethnic minority groups nationally facing funding cuts on grounds of social cohesion to challenge their local authority. Many local authorities, with advice from SBS, are including the recommendations of the ruling to protect specialist groups.

2009

  • May 2009 – Hannana Siddiqui was nominated and shortlisted for an Asian Women’s Achievement Award.
  • July 2009 – SBS 30th anniversary party which was attended by 300 people.
  • September 2009- SBS expanded and restructured as an organisation. We increased staffing levels due to increased demands for all our services and due to successful fund-raising.
  • September 2009 – Hannana Siddiqui and SBS received a special letter of commendation from the Association of Chief Police Officers.
  • October 2009 – Shareen Khan’s husband was found guilty of manslaughter in a context where he perpetrated domestic violence against her.  After a three week trial at the Old Bailey, Shireen’s husband was cleared of murder but found guilty of manslaughter on the grounds of provocation.  He claimed that Shireen had a boyfriend and that she been tormenting him before he strangled her. The trial judge commented that as he had suffered years of provocation as her questioning of his manliness was the ‘last straw that broke the camel’s back’. He was perceived to have been ‘under tremendous pressure.’ SBS commented on the case in the local paper in which we expressed concerns that the history of domestic violence was ignored by the courts, and that the police could have prevented the killing if they had taken more action in respect of the breach of an existing protection order that had powers of arrest attached. This case also raised problems within civil courts where the failure to grant an ouster injunction resulted in forcing Shareen to live with her husband.
  • November 2009 – Geeta Aulakh was murdered. She was found with her hand severed near the home of her childminder in Greenford. Geeta had been on her way home from work to pick up her 10 and 8 year old sons. SBS met with Geeta’s family in November 2009 following their request for assistance.  Over the following days, SBS worked with the police by handing out leaflets in Southall and Greenford requesting information surrounding the murder, and assisted the family in making an appeal on Sunrise Radio. In December 2010, we saw a successful conviction of Geeta’s husband, Harpreet Aulakh who was jailed at the Old Bailey for life and ordered to serve at least 28 years. Two other men, Sher Singh and Jaswant Dhillon, were also jailed for life for murder for a minimum of 22 years. A fourth man, Harpreet Singh, was convicted for murder in April 2011 and also given a minimum sentence of 22 years.
  • November 2009 – Home Office establish a pilot project , the Sojourner Project, to pay limited benefits and housing costs for victims of domestic violence who are subject to immigration control and have no recourse to public funds. In July 2010 the Home Secretary, Teresa May, announced that the Government would be introducing a longer-term solution. In March 2011, the Home Office stated that they will be giving benefits to victims of domestic violence with no recourse to public funds from April 2012. This change is in the process of being implemented.  These developments are major victories for SBS, which led the campaign for nearly 20 years for legal reform to exempt victims of domestic violence with immigration problems from the no recourse to public funds requirement.  In 2007, SBS established and led the Campaign to Abolish No Recourse to Public Funds which includes leading women and human rights organisations, which have also lobbied for this reform together with us.

2010

  • March 2010 – SBS received the Secularist of the Year Award from the National Secular Society.
  • March 2010 – Pragna Patel, member of SBS, was offered an MBE, which she declined.
  • March 2010 – the Department of Health Taskforce on the Health Aspects of Violence against Women and Children sub-group and the focus group reports recommended SBS as an example of best practice. The sub-group on harmful traditional practices said, “it is generally accepted that advocacy/interpretation services and specialist support can be effective or, in some cases, an essential part of care provision. It is self-evident that a victim of honour based violence who is fearful and unable to communicate in English will need support to explain what has happened to her. The work of organisations, such as SBS…can play an important part in helping victims to rebuild their lives.”
  • July 2010 – Meena Patel received an honorary doctorate from Roehampton University.
  • September 2010 – SBS started a pilot project to test the effectiveness of the ‘whole schools’ approach in two schools in Southall in preventing violence against black and minority women and girls. SBS has been selected as one of the six ‘grassroots’ experts across the country by Comic Relief, who fund the project, to pilot this as part of a wider project on preventing violence against women and girls (VAWG). The project is also funded by the Government’s Forced Marriage Unit. The evaluation report will be used to influence the Department of Education and other bodies in relation to the school curriculum and how schools as a whole address and prevent VAWG. The project also features in EVAW’s publication on ‘promising practice’ in preventing VAWG.
  • August 2010 – We gave expert evidence to the Law Society, which successfully challenged the Legal Service Commission (LSC) decision not to award contracts to specialist firms dealing with family and forced marriage litigation.
  • November 2010 – SBS was awarded the Diamond Jubilee Award-Political Agenda Setting Award by the Political Studies Association. This was presented by the TV presenter, Jon Snow.

2011

  • March 2011Pragna Patel was listed as one of top 100 most inspiring women in the Guardian newspaper.
  • March 2011 – the Home Office Violence against Women and Girl’s Action Plan was published, which recognised the need to work with the SBS and the End Violence against Women (EVAW) coalition on a violence against BME women strategy. In January 2011, SBS and EVAW published ‘What BME Women Want: 10 Key Actions for a Safer World’ to tackle violence against BME women based on consultations with over 200 individuals and women’s organisations across the UK.
  • March 2011 – We also published two action based research reports based on our work, Safe and Sane (2010) and Cohesion, Faith and Gender (2011). These publications were launched in March 2011 with high profile keynote speakers, such as the Anne Milton, Minister for Public Health, at 2 Garden Court Chambers; and Lord Parekth and Lord Ouseley at the House of Lords respectively.
  • May 2011 – the Home Affairs Select Committee stated that Southall Black Sisters is a “highly respected” organisation which should be funded by local authorities, and that the closure of such services will “materially damage the UK’s ability to support and protect victims and potential victims of forced marriage, and the Government should take steps to avoid this outcome” (HASC: Forced Marriage, Eighth Report HC 880, 2011).
  • July 2011 – SBS successfully prevented government proposed cuts in legal aid for those making immigration applications under the domestic violence rule by threatening legal action.
  • October 2011 – SBS successfully intervened in the cases of Quila and Bibi, where the Supreme Court ruled that government age related polices on immigration and forced marriage denied the right to family life to couples in genuine marriages with little evidence to show that it protected victims of forced marriage.