THE WOMEN'S NETWORK
This is the very foundation of the work carried out by The Women's Network. Our knowledge base and our work methods are all sprung from the Human Rights declarations and conventions and from our experiences from support work in practice. The Women's Network strongly rejects all forms of social, cultural, religious, economic or political argument aimed to justify or conceal discrimination and oppression of children and women.
Network's activities are primarily financed by grants from the Social Services of Stockholm City (Stockholms Stads Socialtjänstförvaltning) and by the County Administrative Board of Stockholm (Länsstyrelsen i Stockholms län), as well as by the Swedish Inheritance Fund.
In the beginning, The Women's Network was not supposed to work as a social support centre since it is the society's responsibility to do. In the Social service's law chapter 5, §11, it says that the Social welfare board in every municipality is supposed to work for the crime victims and their close ones to get help and support. The law stresses in particular that the Social welfare board should pay attention to help and support women and children who are exposed to violence. We, however, see a society that does not fulfil its responsibility. Therefore we have an important role to play and one of our most important functions is to increase the citizens' knowledge and consciousness about women and children's rights, make them heard and make society's responsibility visible. We also work with spreading information and with counselling with the authorities.
The Women's Network means that the human rights are universal. The cultural relativism, where culture is more important than the individual, is never acceptable! We must never accept that parallel legal systems develop, one cultural/ religious and one legal. We must never take culture or religion into more consideration than the individual. Human rights must never be dependent on culture or religion; human rights mean everybody should have the same rights. The Women's Network acknowledges religious freedom and the right to maintain ethnic and cultural traditions as long as they do not violate basic human rights.
The Women's Network does not recognize any unconditional rights for parents to control young people's lives, or to force them into living according to religious or cultural regulations that they themselves do not accept. The Women's Network is of the opinion that this principle is especially important in issues regarding young female immigrants' sexual freedom, and the right to freely choose their boyfriends/partner.
The Women's Network believes that a free debate, a free flow of information and free research regarding the mechanisms that lead to oppression of women and young people is of crucial importance in order to combat the oppression.
The Women's Network operates: Matilda (for adults), Linnamottagningen and Systra mi (for youths), support activities and Höja rösten. Through these activities we spread information and knowledge, counselling, support, motivate and fight for women and children's rights.
The majority of our visitors are youths and young women who have had the power and courage to resist, and who have had the strength to seek us and get support in a situation where they will change their life situation. The people who contact us are not only victims but also strong individuals who have the strength and courage to resist offending treatment, oppression and violence.
To dare to change a destructive life situation requires a great deal of the individual and the people who seek support of The Women's Network often have a long and complicated history of their own struggle for change. To fight on their own can be very difficult and in the end many lose their strength or motivation to continue on their own.
Through experience The Women's Network know that foremost youths need a widely spread everyday support. When the person has gone through the acute phase the lack of a network is often large since they have left their family and close ones. In this situation many are in need of a mentor and this we can help with through our support work.
We follow the person through the whole process, from the initial phase when the supplicant is mainly in need of acute arrangements, to when the long term work by creating a functioning and independent life starts. Our goal for the youths who seek us is that he/ she can/ have/dare to live the life he/she wants! We work with empowerment to strengthen the youths so they can be free individuals, live independently and free themselves from objectification.
An important task for the Women's Network is spreading information and forming the public opinion regarding the rights of youths and women. We attend events where we come in contact with our target groups, officials and politicians for discussions and sharing experiences as much as possible, examples of this is visiting schools, social advice and guidance centres for young people, conferences and meetings with cooperation partners. We also try to have an active global monitoring and take part of research, studies and practical experiences. The Women's Network always tries to follow the debate and forming the public opinion with the purpose to change the attitudes in the society and to put demands on the politicians. We participate in experience exchanges both nationally and internationally, and we create our own forums.
The Women's Network also supports other organisations and authorities that in different ways work with the rights of youths and women, especially the honour related violence so that the knowledge and competence is strengthen and spread.
We carry out courses, seminars and conferences and offer meetings for the actives and the sympathisers in order to inspire action. Through this type of work we hope to recruit more active people in the fight for the rights of youths and women.
An important part of our member activities is to exchange experiences, increase our knowledge and discuss our role in society. This is a must to develop and survive as an organisation.
To reach our goals we need to be many and fight together. Together we are stronger!!
The honour related violence is closely connected to the control over the women's bodies, sexuality and feelings. The honour problem is not firstly about physical abuse or threats of violence, but of limitations in movement and of control and alienation. The social control is carried out by women as well as men, within and outside the family. The common feature for honour related violence is that it is often carried out by different persons and is therefore given a collective legitimacy. Violence towards women (generally) and honour related violence (in particular) is a social problem and should be treated as a crime, acted on with a firm and immediate social reaction.
The perpetrator is not only the person carrying out the deed but also the religious culture that powers the oppression. By knowing the reason for the oppression we can for example understand why the virginity of a girl is so important.
It must be possible to discuss religious cultures without being called a racist or prejudiced. We cannot fail the youths because of fear of racists using the situation or because of fear being called islamophobia. Besides the religious culture also misogynistic attitudes and alienation can enhance the oppression.
Violence in homes is reported to a lower degree than violence in public places. Women's inclination to blame themselves, take back statements, redefine the incident by diminishing or denying it, are all aspects that make the support work more difficult. When we are to understand the problems that the individuals who seek our support have, this is what we assume but we also make additions. Some very important aspects are segregation and alienation; others are experiences of other norm systems and values than the ones that dominate the society in general.
Since the honour related violence has become a concern for the society, we have to a larger extent started to act as advisors for others in the field and for the authorities who in different ways are in contact with the target group of our network.
The volunteers are a valuable resource in different activities; they help with driving practice, homework, moving, doing work with the web page and many other things.
As a volunteer you can also work as a sustaining person with a girl or a woman, how this is carried out depends on the needs and requirements of the person. The sustaining person should preferably be able to work a few hours every week and it is a requirement to have done the sustaining person course given by The Women's Network.
Linnamottagninen and Systra mi have in common that the youths are exposed to oppression and violation by family, relatives or other close persons. They are maybe subjected to:
For many of the young ones who seek help at The Women's Network the feelings of desolation and loneliness will be the most difficult challenge in their new life situation. Many carry the feelings of guilt and shame towards the people they love and consider having failed. Many also live with the conflict of the values they have been raised with and with their own wishes which in turn often leads to destructive senses of guilt. A large part of the youths we come in contact with is unused to regard or even identify their own needs and wishes. Many of them have also got an insufficient knowledge about society and are not prepared for an independent life in forms of living on their own and taking care of their own economy. Another problem area is the lack of knowledge of social codes which can create problems in their social lives. During their earlier life they have not learnt how they are supposed to act and behave in different social situations.
For these youths we want to:
Systra mi offers girls:
Within Matilda we also come in contact with women who need support because of violence within their relationship, support in a divorce process, and support in custodial issues.
For these women we want to:
|Telephone line for youths - All days - 09.00 – 22.00|
|Tel||020-40 70 40|
|(It cost's you nothing and the call will not be seen on phone company's bill.)|