Paving the Way for Systematic Law Changes & Sharpened Victim Protection…
RELIGIOUS INSTITUTE SUPPORT & EDUCATION
“Where I am going to run to… I am a child and the only place I know is my home, and that is not a safe place… Where am I going to run to…”
“Do I not have the right to minimise the risk to myself and my children? Why can’t I know where my Sex Offender has been relocated upon release? Why can’t I have the right to protect myself?” #Maya’sLaw
“Has Justice really prevailed? A Child Sexual Abuse Survivor is NEVER free from the abuse, physically and mentally being tortured until the day they die. Don’t let me believe the sentence is justified…”
“We have a duty of care to protect victims of violence and to provide adequate support to survivors of Psychological Trauma and Mental Health. We can no longer make excuses or avoid our responsibilities for fear of reprisals…..”
The child house concept is based on best practice learned from the USA and Scandinavia. Recognising the vulnerability of the child victim and the harm caused to the child by multiple interviews, the child house uses a child-friendly response to child sexual abuse (CSA).
In the UK, 2 child houses are available in the city of London, in Wales there is none.
As a child, you do not know who and where to run to, you do not know that there is any support available, if we can offer Child Houses across the UK, we can save children.
As a continuation of Refuges for Domestic Violence, there should be Child Houses for children suffering child sexual abuse.
We know that many children who are suffering child abuse will at some point try and escape, they will want to free themselves, but they have no where to go, They will be returned back home, back into the arms of their abuser.
Providing a safe house, that is child-friendly, that can open the way for disclosure and safeguarding, is something not to be ignored.
In Iceland, the ‘Barnahus’ model has been in place since 1998, and offers in one place, forensic interviews, making court statements, medical examinations and access to therapeutic services.
We should look at this model and then consider its adaption, to make this available like we do a domestic violence refuge. Since the Barnahus model was established in Iceland, the number of child victims of CSA coming forward for help has more than doubled per year, indictments have tripled, and convictions have doubled. This is enough evidence to show they are crucial.
Not only should we be providing child houses, but we should continue this with educating children that there are, safe, child-friendly, therapeutic options available.
Please join my Campaign to address this issue and push for the Welsh Government to provide a Child House in Wales.
The new Child House open in London ‘The Lighthouse‘, is accessible for children to access support, but we cannot surely expect children to get to London from other areas of the United Kingdom, if they are even aware such houses exist!
Our children need somewhere to run to, they need to be safe and they need to have access to the correct support to save themselves from the life sentence of Child Sexual Abuse.
ITV Wales Interview calling on the Welsh Government to follow London in setting up Child House for children suffering from Child Abuse.
I was met by the media including ITV Wales, BBC Wales and Wales Online, and was very honoured to have a number of Assembly Members in attendance for the Handover.
The Petition was discussed and met with a united response and recognition of how important the Child House is, to saving children and from a child’s perspective. My backstory to the petition was also discussed, and I can not thank enough the Chair of the Committee, David Rowlands AM who showed a genuine compassion and understanding of what this petition meant to me.
It was an overwhelming, but proud moment.
On Tuesday 15th January the Petitions Committee discussed the Petition Live via Senedd TV, Petition and Actions were set in place to move this forward. An absolutely momentous occasion!
The opening words of David Rowalnds AM: “I would like to personally congratulate Mayameen on the Courage she has showed in bringing this petition to the committee in the first place”
Thank you David Rowlands AM for this honourable introduction and for allowing my voice to be heard.
After receiving the petition, Caroline Jones AM said: “Mayameen Meftahi is a truly inspirational woman, subjected to years of harrowing abuse at the hands of her own father, she has, with immense bravery, decided to speak up for child victims of sexual abuse. Her story may be harrowing, but her drive and message are commendable and I hope the Welsh Government will listen.
Tuesday 19th March 2019: The Petition was discussed again at the Senedd. Another positive discussion, however clear clarification that the issue we have surrounding Child Sexual Abuse, is the blurring of information, outdated guidelines and lack of prioritising!
I would also like to state, that this petition and campaign is nothing to do with gender, it is not gender specific nor does gender even need to be discussed, because it is about CHILDREN!
I will be responding to the Senedd as requested.
MOVEMENT SUCCESS: legacy
I received this email to advise about the debate that: Bethan Sayed was taking forward the motion to propose the National Assembly for Wales to:
1. Notes a proposal for a bill to reform and improve support for child victims of sexual abuse in Wales
2. Notes the purpose of this bill would be to: a) introduce the Barnahus Model of therapeutic led support for victims; b) work with police to use the Barnahus Model of investigation in all cases of child sexual abuse; and c) introduce statutory changes to improve emergency and temporary accommodation for abused children who cannot return to their home or are homeless.
This was fantastic news and then news came in from Bethan Sayed that we won!!!!!
A massive thank you to Bethan Sayed Am who pushed this through for debate and to Caroline Jones Am, whom has spoken so honourably of myself, that I am “one of the most inspirational women she has had the pleasure to meet… Waiving her Anonymity and going public to raise this Campaign to prioritise children from Sexual Abuse, we owe it to her to listen”… I broke at that point!
This Petition only raised 227 signatures, which was not enough to take to debate, however I decided to attend the Petition Handover and I shared my story as to what this means and why. I honour the Power of my Story and thank you to those who signed.
Voting time: For 29 | Abstain 18 | Against 2 | Total 49 – Motion was Agreed
Legacy has been made in my name. This is the power of the voice when broken from silence.
SWANSEA SOUND: Calls For Safe Houses For Victims Of Child Abuse
A proposal to introduce better help and support is going before the Senedd.
It follows calls from campaigner for emergency accommodation for children who have suffered sexual abuse – some of whom are forced to live with their abusers.
The petition was started by Mayameen Meftahi from Swansea. She was just four years of age when she started being abused.
There’s a full briefing on the background to this and the Barnahus Model from the Senedd Research Service (link).
The idea arose because of a petition by Mayameen Meftahi – an abuse victim herself – calling for reforms to services for child sex abuse victims.
GET IN TOUCH WITH MAYAMEEN
If you are a Journalist, Organisation, Activist or Someone in General Need of Guidance or Support and want to speak to Mayameen about her Lived Experience, her Professional Field or her Campaigns, you are welcome to get in touch via Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Upon Mayameen’s fathers release from prison, she was / and still is not allowed to know where he is located.
Having been told repeatedly that this is sensitive information and that there is ‘no reason’ for her to know. That she could bump into him anywhere and so what will knowing actually do for her…
Well, this man is a high-profile sex offender whom controlled every aspect of her life, right up until the day he was arrested. Not only the horrific sexual abuse, he was a serial stalker, he would track her and even worse as she discovered when he was arrested, he had placed transmitters into plug sockets (a device so that he could record conversations even when he wasn’t there).
Therefore, she a right to avoid the vicinity in which he is currently living, minimised the risk to herself and her children, by not visiting or unknowingly entering into the home town of where he lives.
Does she not have the right to feel a little bit safe and to at least try to safeguard her family? Can she not even have that, now that he is free into the society…
Clare’s Law: The Domestic Violence Scheme (DVS), that offers members of the public the right to ask the police if their partner may pose a risk to them.
Sarah’s Law: The Sex Offender Disclosure Scheme, that allows anyone to formally ask the police if someone with access to a child has a record for child sexual offences.
If Pete across the road has access to her children and something isn’t sitting right, and she wants to safeguard her children, she can formally make a written disclosure, to which the police will consider if it is in the best interests for safeguarding, to release that information in confidence.
So because her father is not living opposite her (yet!), she is not able to access this information of location, and yet her father, the high-profile sex offender was not Pete down the road, he was the man who was supposed to protect her, he was the man who she was supposed to love unconditionally, the role model, and what should have been for her children.
So where is her law to the right to ask the police where her Sexual Abuser is living? She isn’t requesting house number, address and postcode, simply the vicinity is enough, to minimise risk.
Let’s also consider, that her father was placed on licencing conditions to not enter near her home, therefore he was released information of her vicinity in order to know not to breach his licencing conditions!! So her father was allowed the information, that she, the victim is not allowed!?
“I am calling out for Sharpened Victim Protection, my right of law to release confidentially, the location of sex offenders for minimising risk” #MayasLaw
A petition has been lodged with the UK Government and Parliament, now approved, please sign and share this petition, so we can reach numbers that can take it into debate:
Anyone who has read Mayameen’s Story, will clearly see how unjust the sentencing was.
In 2014, her father was publicly named as being a ‘listener trained by Samaritans’ potentially implying a man of reform. Yet in 2016, and again in 2017 he was not eligible for Parole. The parole boards remit is in the most high-profile cases where sentence is indeterminate, to judge at oral hearings whether prisoners guilty of the most serious sex offences still pose a risk to society, to justify imprisonment after the expiration of their tariff – the minimum time the trial judge ruled they must serve.
So in September 2016 and again in 2017 he was still a risk to society, yet 8 months on from this parole boards decision, he was released into the community.
Being sentenced to 10 years in prison, serving approximately 6 1/2 years in total.
Serving half a sentence and the rest in the community under licencing conditions for just 9 months, is Justice?
A Child Sexual Abuse survivor is never free from the abuse, physically and mentally being tortured until the day they die. It impacts their whole life, whether it destroys it, or empowers it, they never escape the sudden flashbacks, nightmares, memories, guilt, blame, stigma, shame. Let alone, the impact on their relationships and parenthood.
Should he have served his entire sentence? Absolutely!
There are 2 parts to this campaign, firstly:
The sentencing guidelines for historical child abuse cases are flawed, historical sexual abuses are sentenced on the time of the act and that applicable law, not the current law.
Sentences are too lenient:
We know that sentences for Sexual Abuse and Rape are too lenient and this has once again been proved in the recent article on www.express.co.uk dated 7th February 2018:
Judge Ticehurst told him “The national Sentencing Council Guidelines are simply too lenient”.
High-profile sex offenders should be subjected to current law sentencing.
When you sentence an offender to 10 years in prison, at the moment of time, the only thing that registers in a victims mind is ’10 years’, not 10 years, minus 224 days spent on remand and actually they will only serve half of that sentence…
By issuing a 10 year sentence, that is not actually going to be served in prison, you provide a false sense of safety, that victims are protected for that amount of time and can try and rebuild their lives based on the words ‘sentencing you to 10 years imprisonment’.
Victims are put through gruelling processes to get offenders punished, through the loopholes of the Judiciary system, and then sentencing it not actually as it states.
Do not act like you are moving mountains, just be honest and say he will serve 5 years minimum sentence… don’t let us believe we are safe when in fact we are not.
High-profile sex offenders should serve their full sentence in prison.
The R.I.S.E Project is an initiative, that all Religious Institutes should commit to, so we can improve support provisions and unite in building a stronger, safer society.
Guest Speaker Invitation on Islam Channel TV Show: Women’s AM to discuss Trauma & Survival. This will provide an insight to the Projects personal backstory, and discussing this crucial need ↓
The R.I.S.E Project Pledge:
To Account, Act & Advocate to protect and provide for our community, who are Suffering in Silence
To Rise, Speak Out & Stand Together, unified to be the voices of the vulnerable and to break the Chain of Silence
To highlight our Pledges Proudly, to integrate into our Society and Serve our Community
Providing designated/appointed Specialist Male & Female Support Workers in all Religious Institutes
Notice Boards clearly displaying the Specialist Support Workers Information & Awareness Posters for Domestic & Sexual Violence
Educating members of Religious Institutes on these ‘taboo’ topics during Khutbahs, Sermons etc
Building partnership working with local Police Officers, Local Authorities & Organisations
Creating & following adequate Safeguarding procedures and Safety Plans
Specialist Support Worker Guidance:
Every Religious Institute (RI) should have a Specialised Support Worker leading the way for Safeguarding, male and female.
The Specialist Support Worker must be adequately trained with Trauma-Informed Training, Domestic & Sexual Violence Training and Safeguarding Training.
As part of our R.I.S.E Project, we can provide Exclusive Training, for all Religious Institutes, who want to roll out this crucial initiative.
The Specialist Support Worker should be available to provide support, inside the Institute. As well as their contact information being displayed clearly on the RI Notice Board. The logistics of the schedule is to be discussed with the RI and the Specialist Support Team.
Working closely and building partnerships with local police officers (PCSO’s), local authority and local crisis centres. Mayameen has experience with this, and has worked with police officers who have dealt sensitively with crisis cases, attending in ‘out of uniform’ if necessary, to provide advice and non-pressured support.
The Specialist Support Worker should always be independent from the trustees/committee board members etc, this is to prevent any institutional pressures from refraining or delaying to implement protective and preventative measures.
The Specialist Support Worker, should be compassionate, sensitive to cultural barriers and work foremost to provide practical and support services to those in need.
Professional Training provided by Mayameen meftahi (MASC P.Th & NLP):
Trauma Informed Practice
Child Sexual Abuse Awareness
Female Genital Mutilation Awareness
Certificate of Attendance will be provided with CPD Accreditation.
The R.I.S.E Project Initiative via Mayameen can also provide consultancy support as and when is required.
Mayameen works in collaboration with KOGS (Keeping Our Girls Safe) as a Support Worker/Facilitator. This is a registered Charity, and we can provide Training Packages that will can also include: Safeguarding Training and Child Sexual Exploitation Training.
We know that funding/costs will always be a concern for Institutes, however the question should be, how can we not afford this!
The initial cost outlay will consist of Training, which could easily be considered as a 1 day Fundraising Initiative, for example: if you allocate a Friday for the Khutbah to raise awareness of The R.I.S.E Project and stipulate that all money raised from that days Khutbah will be allocated to training.
This is the same for a Christian Church, to allocate a Sunday Service for the fundraising of training, a Synagogue, a Temple, a specific Religious Centre etc.
You can also bring the project into any other fundraising events you organise. We know, that many people are passionate about this cause and will be happy to donate and support as much as possible.
We are all accountable for our next generation, and the good deeds we have done for our current.
Money is not a barrier to protecting innocent victims and helping to rebuild innocent lives.
The Support Worker will need to be independent, but the selection process is left to the Religious Institute who will know its community members well. The same safeguarding and processes will be undertaken to appoint a Support Worker, as it is to appoint a leader, teacher etc.
The appointed, will need to have the right character, resilience and passion to be a Specialised Support Worker, be ‘a person of good standing in their community’ and DBS checked.
Remember, you are not a crisis centre, therefore you would follow your local safeguarding procedures. Importance on building partnership working and making sure the Religious Institute has the correct Local Authority safeguarding processes in place.
You can obtain this information from your Local Safeguarding Boards and you would follow the necessary actions.
If there was immediate danger to a child or an adult, you would contact the police dialling 999, or 101 for no immediate risk.
Your role is supportive and you will make sure you are aware of the local crisis teams, and refer appropriately.
Never, try and take a crisis situation into your own hands, there are services and provisions in place for referring into.
Awareness: Talking about Domestic Violence, Child Sexual Abuse, or Rape or Exploitation has been the elephant in the room for too long.
Accountability: Religious Institutes hold standing, influence and connections, which makes it a powerful place to contribute to eradicating violence.
As RI’s hold this powerful position, why are we not providing a duty of care and a service to our community?
If someone is a perpetrator attending the Institute, and they hear a sermon about violence, it may well make them think twice, if someone attending the Institute is a victim, and they hear via the Khutbah, that the Institute is open and able to provide a confidential, sensitive, trusted Support Worker, it could be the difference between life and death.
That may sound far fetched, however statistics are speaking for themselves, that violence is causing murders, that suicide rates are prevalent from trauma and mental health is a crisis.
Action: Further, we are not immune to the fact that Religious Institutes are often called out for not being pro-active on these issues, that vigilante groups are accusing Religious Institutes of covering up and ignoring the issues surrounding communities.
If you take accountability, and responsibility to create this Initiative, accept there are issues to be addressed, as there are in all communities, but that as an Institute, pro-active in tackling them, then many will no longer need to be vilified from the far-right.
We stand together, united in diversity, to protect humanity.