About Apna Haq
Our name, Apna Haq, means ‘our right’ in Urdu.
Apna Haq exists to support black and minority ethnic (BME) women and girls in Rotherham, South Yorkshire who are experiencing any form of violence against women and girls (VAWG). Our long-term support helps women heal from the trauma of abuse and make the transition from crisis situations to safe, independent, violence-free lives.
We are also very active in our work against racism and Islamophobia which so often amplifies the violence experienced by black and minority ethnic women.
We are a survivor-led organisation with many years of experience in the forms of violence that disproportionately affect BME women, as well as an understanding of the cultural issues that these communities face when seeking support, such as language barriers and community pressures.
Our current work involves many BME communities in Rotherham including: Chinese, Thai, Iranian, African, Roma, Bengali, Caribbean, Indian, Yemeni, Pakistani, Muslim revert communities and others. We support women and girls in all their diversity, including from any religion or no religion, and of any sexuality, including women who identify as lesbian, bisexual, transgender or intersex (LGBTI).
How we started
We started in 1994 as a charitable organisation that supported South Asian Muslim women experiencing, or at risk of, domestic violence.
However, in 2010 we expanded our focus to become a black and minority ethnic (BME) women-led organisation working to end all forms of violence in Rotherham and surrounding areas in South Yorkshire. This was in response to the changing demographics and needs in Rotherham, along with national policy changes and research findings.
While we continue to work with women and girls who experience domestic violence, we have become sector-leading experts on a range of experiences that can specifically affect BME women, including forced marriage and honour-based violence, as well as child sexual exploitation (CSE) and other forms of sexual abuse. Our experience means we understand patterns of abuse, justifications within the family for certain behaviours, and why women do not escape.
Our work to support BME women in Rotherham is holistic and wide-ranging:
Our primary objective is to ensure the safety of women, managing the risks they may face. This involves general advice, signposting and referrals, as well as planning support more long-term. We also advocate for survivors of CSE and tackle peer-led hate crime.
Empowering women is key to them leaving a violent situation. Our range of confidence building courses aims to improve health and wellbeing. Specifically, we have an economic empowerment programme which entails a Hardship Fund, and a training and development programme which strengthens life skills and employability status.
Prevention and improved responses
By working in partnership with many agencies, we ensure the community is knowledgeable about how VAWG affects the BME community. Our training for partners and prevention activities raises awareness about the subject.
Giving a voice to survivors of VAWG is key to changing cultural norms, and so we support other VAWG groups to develop their capacity; lobby and campaign on policy issues that affect women; and undertake and participate in research projects.
Ensuring continued service user involvement in Apna Haq is key to our success as an organisation. Our training and development package for current and ex-service users ensures our work continues to be focused and relevant.
Our wider work
Alongside direct service provision, we campaign for ending the acceptance of violence against women and girls. This requires culturally appropriate advocacy work with, for, and by BME women experiencing any form of violence. We are active in our community, in local schools, and in the media to mobilise the change of community attitudes.