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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 Årets vinder af @antibulli.dk Håndbold Prisen er nu fundet 🏆 Her til aften blev ungdomsafdelingen i KLG Håndbold hædret for deres arbejde med fællesskab, rummelighed og sammenhold. Mikkel Hansen overrakte Antibulli Håndbold Prisen 2019 til en masse seje og glade unge håndboldspillere ved en velgørenhedskamp mellem Paris-Saint Germain og Århus Håndbold. Antibulli Håndbold Prisen udspringer af Antibulli Håndbold, der er udviklet af Mary Fonden og @mh24_official. Med prisen følger 20.000 kroner til en fællesskabende aktivitet for alle klubbens ungdomshold. Antibulli Håndbold Prisen går hvert år til ungdomsafdelingen i en klub, som sætter gode holdkammerater, spillernes tryghed og det at have det sjovt først. Stort tillykke! Foto: @burojantzen #sammenholdetvinderaltid #forebyggelseerbedst #fællesskab
mary_fonden "Kære Mary Fonden Da jeg var 17 år, mistede jeg min far til kræft." Sådan startede Charlotte sin mail til os og fortsatte ved at fortælle, at det denne sommer var 20 år siden, at hendes far døde. Charlotte fortalte også, at farens død stadig berørte hende dybt, og 20-årsdagen havde givet hende og hendes søster en ide. Vi synes, ideen er så god, at den skal deles. For det første fordi andre kan blive inspireret. Både til at mindes og til at tale om dem, vi har mistet. For det andet fordi Charlotte og Malenes invitation minder os om, at vi skal leve med sorgen, men heldigvis også med alle de gode minder. Tak for mailen! I efteråret sætter vi sammen med Børn, Unge & Sorg, Østifterne, Politiken, Ekstra Bladet og Jyllands-Posten fokus på at tale om død, sorg og alvorlig sygdom i Mediekonkurrencen. Konkurrencen løber fra uge 38-46 og er målrettet 6.-10 klasse. Læs mere på www.newsdesk.dk.
mary_fonden Vi stempler ud de næste to uger. Men vores budskaber holder ved. For alle har ret til at høre til - ferie eller ej. Rigtig god sommer fra alle i Mary Fonden. #alleharrettilathøretil #maryfonden
mary_fonden “Forældre er gode rollemodeller for deres børn, når ...” Til årets Fri for Mobberi Børnestafetter udfordrede vi børn og forældre til at fuldføre sætningen - og her er et par af deres bud. Hvad synes du? #friformobberi #forebyggelseerbedst
mary_fonden "Det var så flovt, og jeg følte, at andre tog afstand fra mig. Mens volden og bruddet stod på, var det svært for mig at sætte ord på, hvad der skete inden i mig. Det var en frygtelig fornemmelse at mærke, at jeg langsomt mistede fodfæstet. Jeg havde en følelse af at være svag og helt forkert, og at jeg svigtede fællesskabet." I 23 år var Jette Højholdt Mikkelsen sammen med sin eksmand. De første mange år i et harmonisk parforhold, hvor de sammen byggede en virksomhed og en velfungerende gård op med både dyr og fødevarer. Men Jettes mand udviklede et massivt alkoholforbrug, og volden sneg sig langsomt ind i form af trusler, nedgørelse og kontrol. I 2017 flyttede Jette ind på Ringsted Krisecenter, hvor hun bl.a. fik rådgivning i Råd til Livet, som vi har udviklet sammen med @moedrehjaelpen.dk, LOKK – Landsorganisation af Kvindekrisecentre, Nykredit og Østifterne. Jette fortæller modigt og åbent om ensomhed, fordomme og ønsket om at finde balance i livet igen. Og så giver hun et godt råd til pårørende til voldsudsatte. Læs med i bio. #voldihjemmet #alleharrettiletlivudenvold #sigdettilnogen #partnervold