Diana Nammi has been battling for women’s rights since she was a teenager growing up in Iran. In the link you can find a video interview that BBC did and her last sentence is so powerful, “the world should not stay silent about these things.”
A former Peshmerga fighter who came to the UK in 1996, she has been instrumental in the campaign to bring honor killers to justice in British courts as well as striving to get forced marriages banned in this country.
Her achievements were recognized when she received one of the six recipients of the Barclays Women of the Year Awards in London in 2014. She has earned this for her work at the Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation (IKWRO), which she founded in her home in 2002 to provide advice and counselling for women from Middle Eastern, North African and Afghan communities.
In the past, the only recognition that she and her staff have had is abuse, threats and even physical attack. She says. “Many people tried to prevent us talking about this and said, ‘You are disclosing private matters to the world’, but it is honor killings that bring dishonor. Killing women should not be tolerated.”
She is turning her attention to “marital captivity” – women trapped in desperately unhappy, often violent, religious marriages who are unable to divorce. She is also launching a campaign for all school staff to be trained to spot signs of honour-based violence, forced marriage and female genital mutilation. And Nammi wants pupils to be taught that they have the right not to face honour-based violence.
“What we need next is to raise awareness within the community and to educate people about this law and about why the practice is wrong.” Children as young as nine are being forced into marriage, she says. In some cases, “they are still attending schools, struggling to do homework, and at the same time they are being raped by a middle-aged man regularly, and being abused by their families”.
“We need to tell children from a young age what human rights are,” she insists. “At the moment, it is the opposite, with many people telling young girls, ‘It’s your duty to be a good mother and good wife and housewife’, but they are not telling them their rights. We need to empower them.”