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The Mary Foundation awards its special donation to a women’s shelter in Afghanistan

There is a secret location in Kabul where 70 women and children live. They have escaped brutal violence and now live cut off from the outside world due to the risk of being murdered by their families. Mary Akrami is the woman behind the shelter, which is one of the few places where Afghan women can seek safety. The Mary Foundation awards its special donation of USD 50,000 for 2018 to this women’s shelter.

Fatima was only five years old when her father sold her to an older handicapped man for about DKK 24,000. When she turned 12, she was sent to live with the deaf-mute man.

For two years, she was beaten and abused. Until she plucked up the courage to escape. Out into the unknown. Fatima was lucky to end up at the women’s shelter in Kabul. Had her family found her, she would have been killed.

This was the story author and journalist Simi Jan shared on Children’s Day in November 2018. Among those in the audience was Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Mary of Denmark, who is deeply committed to the global fight for women’s rights, and who, through the work carried out by The Mary Foundation, actively works to combat domestic violence.

After listening to Simi Jan’s description of the women’s brutal fates and shelter’s difficult financial circumstances, The Mary Foundation approached the Danish Embassy in Kabul, UN Women, Danner and other organisations to find out more about the women’s shelter. The feedback was extremely positive, which made it easy to choose the recipient of The Mary Foundation’s special donation for 2018:

Women’s rights in Afghanistan are under pressure on many levels. Afghan women grapple with destructive and powerful social norms that make them extremely vulnerable. Mary Akrami has dedicated her life to helping women and children and is a strong spokesperson in the fight to change conditions for women in Afghanistan. This requires exceptional courage and has also made her a target for those who don’t want change. We would like to use The Mary Foundation’s special donation to support her impressive and profound work,” explained HRH Crown Princess Mary.

Part of the independent Afghan Women Skills Development Center, the women’s shelter was established by Mary Akrami in 2003 as the country’s first women’s shelter. The almost 70 women and children who are currently living at the crisis centre are safe, but are nevertheless still scarred physically and psychologically by their violent experiences. Fearing for their lives, they do not leave the shelter and instead spend their time healing and regaining their faith in a life without violence.

I am deeply grateful for and delighted to receive this wonderful donation. It means a lot, because it makes me feel that I am not alone. Women’s shelters are under threat because there are many forces that want them closed. But I will continue the fight. It is my mission in life.  I will continue to fight for my fellow sisters’ basic rights, such as the right to education, access to medical care and the right to control one’s own body – and for them not to be treated as a man’s property but as equals. This donation will be spent on education, medical care, legal assistance and increased security. Additional funds also enable me to accept more women into the crisis centres, and that means the world to women in mortal danger,” expressed founder and leader Mary Akrami from Kabul.

Every year, the Crown Princess presents The Mary Foundation’s special donation to a project or organisation that has shown particular potential.

The Mary Foundation's special donation

The Mary Foundation’s special donation has been awarded to various other projects in the past, including:

  • Neighbourhood Mothers, The Foundation for Social Responsibility (DKK 250,000)
  • Danish Refugee Council’s work in neighbouring regions (DKK 250,000)
  • Women Deliver, stipends to 14 young leaders (DKK 250,000)
  • Brothers For Life, South Africa (DKK 250,000)
  • Fórum Mulher, Mozambique (DKK 250,000)
  • Orchid Project (DKK 50,000) The “Africa Now” fundraising campaign (DKK 200,000)
  • Maternity Worldwide, Ethiopia (DKK 250,000)

Facts about women’s rights in Afghanistan

  • The Constitution of Afghanistan introduced in 2004 states:
    Any kind of discrimination and distinction between citizens of Afghanistan shall be forbidden. The citizens of Afghanistan, man and woman, have equal rights and duties before the law.” Article 22 of The Constitution of Afghanistan.
  • Despite the Constitution, many regions in Afghanistan are controlled by traditional tribal leaders and religious/cultural traditions that hinder equality. Many Afghans therefore still regard traditions and religious law as superior to judicial law. Source: Human Rights Watch
  • Only a fraction of the actual cases of violence against women in Afghanistan are reported. Source: Human Rights Watch
  • The majority of the cases of violence are addressed through mediation due to pressure from family members and the judicial system. Mediation deprives women of access to the courts and prevents the safeguarding of fundamental rights.ource: The UN report “Injustice and Impunity: Mediation of Criminal Offences of Violence against Women”, 2018. S
  • It is estimated that 87 % of women in Afghanistan experience physical, sexual or psychological violence at some point during their lives. Source: UN Women
  • Until the 1970s, Afghanistan experienced steady progress with respect to women’s rights. Source: Amnesty International
  • 27.7 % of Afghanistan’s parliament members are women. Source: UN Women

Afghan Women Skills Development Center

  • Just under 70 women and children currently live in the women’s shelter.
  • The women’s shelter opened in 2003. Since then, at least 3,500 women have lived at this secret address for shorter or longer periods.
  • The centre has also helped thousands of other girls who have not stayed at the women’s shelter, by providing them with financial or legal support, for example.
  • Mary Akrami is the founder of the women’s shelter and has managed it ever since its inception.

Read more about the Afghan Women Skills Development Center

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mary_fonden Vidste du, at knap hvert 6. barn i Danmark vokser op i et hjem med vold? Volden har store konsekvenser for børnene, uanset om de oplever vold mellem mor og far, eller om de selv er direkte udsat for fysisk eller psykisk vold. Børn, der vokser op i et hjem med vold, skal ses, høres og mindes om, at volden aldrig er deres skyld. I Mary Fonden giver vi sammen med Ole Kirk's Fond rygsække til alle børn, der flytter på krisecenter med deres mor. Rygsækkene indeholder praktiske ting og legetøj og bruges systematisk i krisecentermedarbejdernes første samtaler med børnene. #alleharrettilathøretil #stopvold #allebørnharrettiletlivudenvold #voldihjemmet
mary_fonden Mary Fonden styrker projekt for børn med et lille sprog Et lille sprog kan have store konsekvenser for små børns trivsel og senere skolegang. Med en ny, stor donation fra @egmont_fonden vil Mary Fonden over de næste tre år skærpe indsatsen for de sprogligt mest udfordrede børn. ”Alle børn har brug for at kunne sætte ord på deres tanker og følelser – og mangel på sprog kan være en hindring i forhold til at indgå i fællesskabet og i at udvikle det enkelte barns fulde potentiale. Vi ved, at LæseLeg virker, men vi har også en begrundet antagelse om, at vi kan målrette programmet endnu mere til de børn, der er sprogligt allermest udfordret,” siger direktør i Mary Fonden, Helle Østergaard. Læs mere på maryfonden.dk #alleharrettilathøretil #forebyggelseerbedst #læseleg
mary_fonden ”Jeg vil gerne sige en særlig tak til Jette og Lisbeth for, at I har fundet modet til at være med her i dag. Ved at stå frem og fortælle jeres historie giver i en forståelse for, hvor kompleks vold i hjemmet er, I nedbryder tabuet om vold og inspirerer andre kvinder til at gøre som jer og søge hjælp. Når vi forstår, hvad det gør ved et menneske at leve i et voldeligt forhold, så kan vi bedre hjælpe. Derfor er det så vigtigt at høre jeres historie.” To af de flere end 4.500 voldsudsatte kvinder, som vi hjulpet gennem projekt Råd til Livet, var med i dag, da Kronprinsessen samlede projektets partnere til et afsluttende arbejdsmøde på Ringsted Krisecenter. Kronprinsessen takkede indledningsvist de to kvinder for deres mod til at deltage på arbejdsmødet og dele deres oplevelser med at leve i et voldeligt parforhold. Programmet bød også på en brainstorm på farvede post-its over, hvad vi har lært i Råd til Livet. Erfaringerne fra dagen har vi taget med hjem i Mary Fonden. Der var mange gode pointer, som vi kan bruge fremadrettet i vores arbejde for at bekæmpe vold i hjemmet. Råd til Livet tilbyder gratis og uvildig økonomisk, juridisk og social rådgivning til voldsudsatte. Arbejdsmødet markerede afslutningen på projektsamarbejdet, som Mary Fonden træder ud af. Rådgivningen fortsætter i samme form i @moedrehjaelpen.dk rådgivningshuse og i de 22 krisecentre landet over, som er en del af Råd til Livet. Råd til Livet er udviklet af Mary Fonden, @moedrehjaelpen.dk, LOKK - Landsorganisation af Kvindekrisecentre, Nykredit og Østifterne. #alleharrettilathøretil #voldihjemmet #stopvold #levudenvold
mary_fonden Negativ social kontrol betyder, at man ikke selv kan vælge, hvordan man vil leve sit liv. I dag sætter Børns Vilkår fokus på børns oplevelser med at blive kontrolleret til konferencen “Adfærdskontrol og tankefængsel” på Christiansborg. En af pointerne er, at kontrollen sker i både muslimske og lukkede kristne miljøer. Og omvendt at religion ikke er lig med negativ social kontrol. Langtfra. Vi er med, fordi den sociale kontrol hænger tæt sammen med mistrivsel, ensomhed og vold, både fysisk og psykisk. Kendskabet til vores alle sammens menneskerettigheder er en af de anbefalinger, som bliver gentaget som vigtig. Hermed er opfordringen til at kende sin ret - både som barn og voksen - givet videre. #brydind #alleharrettilathøretil
mary_fonden Skal du se håndbold i aften? Vidste du, at Mary Fonden og @mikkelhansen24 i 2017 lancerede Antibulli ud fra en fælles ambition om at støtte børn til et aktivt fritidsliv uden mobning. #Antibulli består af en række øvelser og aktiviteter, som gør det let for håndboldtrænere at træne sammenholdet på banen og styrke det gode børnefællesskab. Antibulli er GRATIS – og du finder det hele på antibulli.dk #dukanændreverden #alleharrettilathøretil #handball19 #håndbold