Who We Are
KMEWO was established in 1999 in order to provide support for women from Iraq, Iran and Eastern Turkey. All these women have one thing in common – they were all victims of domestic violence and exposed to the threat of honour killing in their countries. However coming to Britain was not quite was expected and one set of problems was exchanged for another. Most of the women spoke little or no English and they were all new to the Western culture and the British way of life. They had very little money on arrival, were not able to find jobs and in many cases had to sleep on the floors in the homes of friends.
In some cases the women were followed into Britain by the men who had previously threatened them in their countries and the abuse continue all over again. In other cases the men in the homes where they were offered shelter also began to abuse them. The problems were further compounded by their inability to speak English, problems with their immigration status, health and education for their children.
It was in response to these problems that a few dedicated and visionary women, with determination and drive, formed the Kurdistan Refugee Women’s Organisation. Initially they started giving advice and counselling, two days per week, from a small office in Archway. As news of our services spread within the community, demand grows and soon they were working five days per week.
The opening of the Peckham office follows swiftly thereafter. The growth in the demand for the services continue unabated and about then we came into contact with the Middle East Centre for Women’s Rights and a working relationship developed almost immediately. We establish the violence against women project, concentrating on the areas of advice, support and information. The working relationship between the two organisations grew from strength to strength and this enables us to expand our workload and the area of our work.