Honour Based Violence
The initiative for this project came from the need perceived in our unit, Sopu, which is doing preventive and crisis work in the field of honour-related conflicts and violence. Sopu and Bahar project are part of Loisto setlementti. In Sopu we had seen that there was a need for long-term support services for young people who have faced honour-related conflicts or violence.
Theory and knowledge
Often crisis services are limited when it comes to long-term support, although many people need a lot of time for strengthening their self-esteem, going through trauma, working on safety issues and healthy boundaries, and, importantly, reflecting on one’s own family relations, thinking on who they are and what kind of future they want to have.In Bahar project, our target group is youth who no longer have contact with their family and/or community because of honour-related conflict or violence. In some cases it might be that the young person is is rejected by the family because of violating the social norms of the family, or that the young person themself has decided to live apart from the family, typically because they no longer can be accepted in the family or they feel pressured to behave according to the family norms.
We have been active in developing and inventing a new service model that is based on the best practices of the work that we already do in our unit. In the Bahar project we also combine and test new methods and approaches. The Bahar project, as well as our unit, recognized the need to approach honour-related conflicts and violence form multiple theoretical and practical perspectives. We respect cultural sensitivity and humility, meaning that we respect every person’s and family’s right for being experts in their own lives, and in defining what words like ‘culture’ or ‘honour’ mean to them. In our approach to violence trauma, we utilize a cultural sensitivity approach and for explaining how violence happens, also the theory of planned behaviour.
We also address the systemic family theory view, in which to understand an individual it is important to understand the internal hierarchies, working models and structures of their childhood families. In addition to the cultural sensitivity approach, antiracist and postcolonial studies as well intersectional feminism form the value base for the work we do.
The target group is youth from 15 to 29 years who have experienced honour-related conflict or violence and can no longer live with their families (temporarily or permanently). We have also many participants that represent gender and sexual minorities, and they form our special target group among the youth who have experienced honour-related violence. Our participants can represent any gender. In this project, we welcome youth from all language and ethnic backgrounds. Professional interpreters are always utilized if we do not have the required language skills in our own project team. All our services are free of charge, and we welcome also undocumented youth who live in the country. We offer our services mainly in the Capital Region of Finland (Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa) but we can also give consultation to professionals working with the target group nationwide.
We consult and work closely with authorities in the immigrant services, communal social services, police, health care services, shelters, reception centres, child protection, schools and NGOs in the Capital Region of Finland and the region Uusimaa. They can send us participants in need of our services, and we can also direct our clients to their services. Anyone in need of our services can also directly contact us via email or phone. Our groups are mainly closed groups because of safety reasons. Also, for this reason, our office location is not shared openly online.
The project has clear overall goals and expectations, which are written in our funding application and yearly reports. These are
- To support in creating safe spaces and new social relations for the youth who have faced honour-related violence.
- To offer professional and peer support (one-to-one and/or group support) for the youth in our target group to gain more trust to others, better self-esteem and mental health.
- Supporting greater independence in everyday life and creating a stronger sense of belonging within the youth in our target group.
With every participant, we make a specialised service plan, in which we list the goals specifically set for each participant. These goals are set and formulated in cooperation with the participant. We have follow-up interviews and questionnaires for the assessment of reaching the goals.
Some of the specific results have been: better housing/studying/job situation, gaining residence permit, better mental health, less alcohol abuse and risk behaviour, stronger self-esteem and independence, gaining more trust to speak about traumatic events, crime reports made, more trust to authorities.
Means of getting the results: mapping the situation holistically; contacting and consulting relevant authorities or NGO’s, regular support conversations & psychoeducation.
Description of activity
- individual support (counceling & guidance) in crisis situations, networkig e.g. with the police, shelters, healt care and social work
- group support & peer support (stabilizing groups, open activity/hobby groups in safe enviroment, workshops)
The strength of our unit and the Bahar project lies in intensive teamwork, and diversity of the workers also in the professional field. There is no special training program, but we have documented the specific qualifications needed in the work that we do. These qualifications have been created inside the team based on the experience we have already gathered in the project during the first two years of implementation.
The documented qualifications are related to cultural sensitivity skills and attitudes, knowledge of trauma-related symptoms and trauma-related psychoeducation, knowledge of the concept and phenomena related to honour-related conflicts and violence, good knowledge of the social, health care and immigrant services in Finland, experience in giving both individual and group-based support for youth, good communication and teamwork skills, experience in project work and development, fluent written and spoken language skills at least in Finnish and English. We recruit and train each new worker accordingly to meet these criteria.
We have regularly gathered feedback (oral and written) from our professional networks and from our participants. We documented these regularly to STEA, the fundraising instrument where the funding of the project comes. The feedback thus far has been very positive.
We need to document and report the assessment of meeting our goals on a yearly basis to STEA, where our funding comes. This is not shared on their webpage, but the reports can be shared to external parties if there is need for that.
Dissemination and implementation
We give training, mostly for Finnish professionals working in the field. These trainings are always specifically designed according to the needs of the organizations who ordered the training. We are also open for Nordic/international training offers. The trainings can be held in Finnish or in English.
Research / Evaluation
We have continuous and yearly evaluations. We evaluate each participants situation continuously with questionnaires, and there is a larger screening for some subgroups of our participants at the beginning and end of the services given to them. These larger screenings are analysed in 2021.
We have also one Master’s Thesis for the University of Helsinki, in which the participants of our project were interviewed. This study was published in the Spring 2020. It can be requested from the University of Helsinki, but it is not open access. Our unit also has twice a year its own internal assessment of meeting the project goals.
The participants evaluate meeting their goals regularly, approximately once in six months. This is done by our own evaluation tool (questionnaire) and by the interviews. Every participant leaving the project (individual support or group) is also given a feedback form to fill in their views and evaluations of our services.
It is very hard to prove socio-economic outcomes reliably in the project like ours. It would require a lot more effort that we are able to put through.
Follow-up of the intervention / Monitoring
For our funding instrument STEA, we need to provide yearly follow-up reports.
Detta lärande exempel tillhör Tema:Honour related violence and oppression