News about nia

Criminal Records Challenge - Win for Women

02 March 2018

Sex trade survivors win crucial victory: Disclosure of soliciting convictions is a “disproportionate interference with private life” and “not in accordance with the law.”

The High Court today handed down judgment in a ground breaking judicial review brought by three women formerly involved in prostitution, challenging the Government’s Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) Regulations. They argued successfully that the disclosure of their convictions for soliciting is disproportionate and a breach of the right to respect for private life.

The women, who had all been groomed into prostitution as teenagers presented evidence of the far-reaching impact of prostitution-specific records on all aspects of their lives. The DBS scheme requires mandatory disclosure of ‘spent’ criminal records when applying for jobs or volunteer activity in prescribed areas, primarily involving contact with the vulnerable. Following previous legal challenges, there is a filtering mechanism but it only applies to single convictions. As the women had shown in evidence, soliciting by its nature almost invariably results in multiple convictions. Their evidence showed that the disclosure of such records was deeply stigmatising, impacted on the ability of women to exit from prostitution and adversely impacted on employment opportunities, volunteering, education and training opportunities.

The Judges provided a strong judgement recognising the disproportionate nature of disclosure and the significant violation of their right to private life. It should result in the women being able to have their DBS records filtered to remove the soliciting offences – though the mechanism for this is not yet clear.

Fiona Broadfoot, one of the claimants, who waived her anonymity in this case and has been fighting this battle for over 20 years said, “Finally, I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders – it’s a vindication. I have carried these convictions around – 8 pages of them – all my life and it’s a disgrace. Not one of those men who bought and used and abused me – even the ones who knew fine well I was a child when first put on the streets – has ever had to face the consequences of his actions. It has been a long fight but worth it.”

Harriet Wistrich the Lawyer for the women said, “This is an important judgment – although there were only three claimants in this case, the judgment will benefit all women in these circumstances and has the potential to bring about real change for a sex trade survivors who should never have been criminalised in the first place. Unfortunately, the court were not persuaded by our argument that the practice discriminates against women or is in breach of duties with regard to trafficked women. We will be seeking permission to appeal in relation to those broader points. It is not easy for women with a history of prostitution to come forward and advocate for themselves and others – so much stigma attends them – so the courage and determination of these women is to be applauded.”

Karen Ingala Smith (CEO for nia a women’s charity supporting the women) said, “We feel strongly that these women should never have been convicted in the first place prostitution is symptomatic of women’s continued inequality and discrimination and a form of violence against women. These women were exploited and coerced and yet it is their lives, not those of their buyers and pimps, that were blighted with convictions. They should not have had to take up this fight, but they did and it is to the benefit of all those exploited in prostitution”.

Notes to Eds

Judgment by LJ Holroyde handed down at 9.30 am on 2 March 2018 in case of R (on an application of (1) QSA (2) Fiona Broadfoot (3) ARB v 91) SSHD and (2) SSJ [2018] EWHC 407 (Admin)


Harriet Wistrich: Lawyer Birnberg Peirce and Director of Centre for Women’s Justice 07903 912 641

Heather Harvey (nia charity that supports the women (0207 683 1270 or 07472 145141))

For more information about the Judicial review challenge 17 and 18 January, 2018

Research carried out by nia identifying issues for women with prostitution specific criminal records

Criminal Records Challenge - Win for Women


Next steps in supporting women to bring challenge to government DBS regulations

09 January 2018

As you are aware, in July we launched a report on the impact of prostitution-specific criminal records on women involved in, and exiting, prostitution. Later that month, a group of women with the support of their lawyer (Harriet Wistrich, Birnberg Peirce) went to Court to seek permission to bring a judicial review of the Government’s Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) regulations in so far as they impact on women involved in prostitution. In November, the women received notification that they were able to go ahead with the judicial review and were given a hearing date of 17 and 18 January at the Royal Courts of Justice (Strand). The Centre for Women’s Justice is also supporting the case and working closely with the women (see below for links to more information about the case and parties involved).

We are now writing to our supporters with the following:

1. A request that you attend the hearing on 17 and 18 January (Royal courts of Justice, Strand).
We wish to have a good turnout both for a photo opportunity before the hearing starts and to highlight that there is support and solidarity for this group of women and this issue and that it has far-reaching effects for many women. Should you wish to attend, please email to let us know you will be there and we can add you to the list. We do not have exact details of which court room or what time it starts yet and will not have until a couple of days before so if we have your emails we can let you know.

2. Some points that you might want to make in a letter to your MP.
We are urging supporters to write to their MP as soon as possible to just make them aware of the case. The MPs may wish to attend, they may have constituents for whom it is relevant and to whom they will pass on the information, they may wish to raise a question in the house. It may be that we will need campaigning and so having alerted MPs already to the issue will stand us in good stead in the future. Do not underestimate the potential that direct communications with parliamentarians can have – please take the time to do this. The attached document includes points to make and how to go about this.

3.Links to more information about the case (see below)

• For more information about the case:
• For the original research report:
• Press release about July hearing:
• Press release relating to the research findings:

Violence against women and girls charities mystified and dismayed at serial rapist Worboys’ release

05 January 2018

Worboys was convicted of raping 19 women and a further 105 women came forward to report similar cases.

At his sentencing he was told he must spend a minimum of 8 years behind bars and could not be released until parole board were convinced he posed no further threat.

“What the evidence was that was presented to convince the Parole Board that Worboys “posed no further threat” is hard to imagine and unfortunately we cannot find out…” Said CEO of nia, Karen Ingala Smith, “ I’d be alarmed if it’s his startlingly excellent progress on a “sex offender treatment programme” since there is little evidence of their success. Indeed, in June last year the Government announced it was suspending its “sex offender treatment” programme as there was no evidence it worked and it may have facilitated and enabled further offending.”

In 2012, Unilad magazine came under pressure to remove an article titled “Sexual Mathematics” which stated:

“If the girl you’ve taken for a drink… won’t ‘spread for your head’, think about this mathematical statistic: 85% of rape cases go unreported. “That seems to be fairly good odds.”

Shocking as this may seem, sadly it is an accurate reflection of some men’s attitude and it is attitudes like this and failings of the criminal justice system that make rape such a low-risk crime to the perpetrators.

It is outrageous that we are looking at Worboys’ release when legal processes regarding the police’s ineptitude are still on-going. Two women have gone all the way to the Supreme Court to establish the extent of the police investigative duty in rape cases arising directly from police failures in the Worboys case. While police and Home Office attempt to argue that the duty is limited and that we should not be able to hold them to account for falling short, Rape Crisis, Southall Black Sisters EVAW, the nia project, Liberty all went to court to act as intervenors to support the women in their quest for justice. We are on tenterhooks awaiting that judgement and it is due any time now.

“The number of rapes reported to the police is increasing but the proportion of rape reports ending in a conviction has more than halved over the last seven years. We need

to see improvements in how rape and rape victims are treated by the state and being able to hold the police to account is an important part of that.” ends Karen Ingala Smith

nia's CEO Karen Ingala Amith and Women's Aid release Femicide Census report on findings from 2016

10 December 2017

Today’s Femicide Census report reveals that 113 women were killed by men in England, Wales and Northern Ireland between 1st January 2016 and 31st December 2016.

Nine in ten women killed during 2016 were killed by someone they knew, 78 women were killed by their current or former intimate partner and 65 of which were killed at their own home or the home they shared with the perpetrator, data from the latest Femicide Census report can reveal.

Karen Ingala Smith, Chief Executive of nia, said:

“When we look at crime statistics, whether in relation to sexual violence, child sex abuse, prostitution or domestic violence and abuse, too often the disparity in the sexes of the victim and perpetrator is not made clear. This prevents us from being able to see the full extent and reach of men’s violence against women and girls. The Femicide Census is a very significant exception to this.

“Men are killing women and girls; most often women and girls that they are related to. Nine out of ten women killed by men in the census were killed by someone they knew. Over three quarters by a current or former partner. Every woman killed was important. But when we think about women killed by men, it’s important that we don’t forget about women who were killed by a man who wasn’t a partner; in 2016 they included a 30-year-old woman who was sexually assaulted and killed as she walked to work, a 20-year-old woman who suffered 60 separate injuries as she was raped and murdered by a delusional sexual predator who had promised to help her get home safely and an 81-year-old woman who was battered on the head and set alight by an intruder in her home. Men’s fatal violence against women extends beyond their partners and families.

“By breaking the barriers through which we contextualise violent crime, we’re able to build a different picture, a broader picture, about what causes and influences violence – violence that is largely perpetrated by men.

“Our work was cited as a good practice example by the United Nations. I really hope that the lessons that can be learned from The Femicide Census are taken seriously.”

Katie Ghose, Chief Executive of Women’s Aid, said:

“More needs to be done to address men’s fatal violence against women, as once again the Femicide Census reveals fatalities not as isolated incidents but as part of a repeated pattern of male violence against women. Shockingly, in 2016, over two thirds of women killed by a men were killed by a current or former intimate partner; 83% of these women were killed at their own home or the home they shared with the perpetrator. The government must urgently put the prevention of femicide at the centre of its work to combat male violence against women and girls.

“Every woman should be safe in her own home. Until that day, refuges are a vital lifeline, not an optional extra; they are not just a bed for a night but essential for women to safely escape domestic abuse and rebuild their lives away from the perpetrator. A crucial part of preventing more fatalities must be to ensure sufficient provision for domestic abuse and sexual violence services, including refuges. Yet the government’s proposed changes to supported housing funding for refuges plan to remove refuges’ last secure form of funding.

“Demand for refuges already far outstrips supply and the proposed funding model could be the breaking point. Refuges will be faced with the awful reality of either turning more women away or closing their doors forever. Only by creating a long-term and sustainable funding model for a national network of refuges can we ensure that every woman can safely escape domestic abuse.

“Without a safe space to escape to, more women will be killed by men they know. The government must act now.”

Donate here to support women and girls to rebuild their lives after domestic and sexual violence.

The Femicide Census - Findings from 2016


nia supports ground-breaking legal case to challenge to discriminatory Government policy in relation to the retention and disclosure of criminal convictions arising from soliciting for prostitution offences

26 July 2017


On 27 July the Divisional Court (1) will hear an application from the Government to stay a ground-breaking legal challenge of its policy in relation to the retention and disclosure of criminal convictions arising from soliciting offences.

The claim, brought by three women and supported in evidence by several others, will argue for the first time that the Government legislative scheme discriminates against women and is contrary to the UK’s legal obligations in respect of the trafficking of women.

“I met a pimp aged 15 and two weeks later I was thrown into the violent and abusive world of prostitution. Rape became an occupational hazard but I was arrested, charged and
criminalised for loitering for the purposes of being a common prostitute. After more than twenty years out of prostitution, I am still having to explain my criminal record to any prospective employer. It feels like explaining my history of abuse” Fiona Broadfoot, Claimant.

The women bringing the claim were all pimped into Prostitution when teenagers. All suffered serious violence and abuse on the streets and all struggled after years of such abuse to exit prostitution. The way in which street prostitution has been historically policed means that these women almost invariably have multiple convictions for soliciting. Now, many years after their convictions are spent, each time they wish to apply for a job or volunteer in certain occupational areas, they must disclose these criminal records.

The Government (2) is arguing that the case should be stayed until after a hearing in the Supreme Court in a series of other cases concerning the disclosure of criminal convictions(3). That hearing is not yet fixed and a judgment in those cases is unlikely to be handed down in
less than one year.

Harriet Wistrich, solicitor for the Claimants states, “whichever way that case is decided, it will not examine the inherent sexual discrimination within the legislative scheme, nor its impact on victims of trafficking, nor the failure of the UK to comply with its international treaty obligations in respect of the rights of children.”

The case, if heard, will reveal the significant Psychological impact of being required to provide such disclosure and the impediments it creates for such women contributing to the economy, civil society and providing their own often unique insight and support for other
victims of sexual exploitation.

The Claim is supported by the nia project who very recently published their report on this issue, ‘I’m no Criminal’

Karen Ingala Smith, Chief Executive of nia states: ‘women in prostitution are often there because of coercion and abuse. They should not be made criminals because of this
abuse and – if – they reach a stage where they are able to exit prostitution, their prior involvement should not become a millstone around their necks for the rest of their lives.’

The Claim was issued by Birnberg Peirce Ltd in the Administrative Court in February 2017 and is known as The Queen (on an application of (1) QSA, (2) Fiona Broadfoot and (3) ARB). It is also supported by the Centre for Women’s Justice

1 The hearing is listed at 10 am Thursday 27 July, 2017Royal Courts of Justice, Strand, London, WC2A 2LL COURT 3 (Before LORD JUSTICE SIMON and MR JUSTICE WILLIAM DAVIS)

2 The Defendants represented by the Government Legal Department are the Secretary of State for the Home Department and the Secretary of State for Justice

3 P, G and W v Secretary of State for Justice and Others [2017] and Application by Lorraine Gallagher for Judicial Review [2016}

For further information and access to spokespersons contact:
Alice Brackenbury, Birnberg Peirce Ltd 0207 911 0166
Or the Nia project 020 7683 1270

nia supports ground-breaking legal


We provided face to face support to 1536 women and girls in 2016/17

01 June 2017

nia is run for women and children by women, providing services developed in consultation with women who have experienced men’s violence, and from a proudly feminist perspective. We have been delivering services to women, girls and children who have experienced sexual and domestic violence since 1975.

In the year between April 2016 and March 2017, we provided face-to-face support to 1,536 women and girls, a 22% increase on the year before. This breaks down to

765 women at high risk of repeated and serious domestic violence including homicide were supported by our Independent Domestic Violence Advocacy services: 440 in Newham, 240 in Haringey and 85 in Hackney
East London Rape Crisis Independent Sexual Violence Advocates provided practical and emotional one to one support for 172 women and girls who had experienced sexual violence, more than a third of them were aged 18 or under. The ELRC counselling service worked with 153 women.
• The Ascent Advice and Outreach Service supported 127 women who had experienced recent or historic domestic and/or sexual violence through individual casework and workshops.
152 women experiencing domestic violence and abuse were supported through the IRIS service based in doctor’s surgeries in Hackney and City, with an extra* 14* women supported in the newly launched service in Haringey, and 29 women with problematic substance use supported in our specialist service in Hackney.
The Emma Project refuge supported 9 women who have problematic substance use and had experienced sexual and domestic violence, 8 out of 9 had been exploited through prostitution; a further 15 women were supported via outreach provision. Our new refuge Daria House supported 8 women who had been sexually exploited.
• The London Exiting and Advocacy (LEA) Project supported 61 women towards exiting prostitution
The Huggett Women’s Centre in Dagenham supported 31 women.

And also…

• The East London Rape Crisis Information and Support Line supported 718 women and/or family/friends/agencies enquiring on behalf of survivors in Barking & Dagenham, Hackney, Havering, Newham, Redbridge, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest, though 9,580 contacts by phone, 1,541 contacts by email and 799 texts. An increase in total contacts of 85%.

And whilst doing this, we launched the Huggett Women’s Centre in Dagenham, opened Daria House – a specialist refuge for women who have been sexually exploited, particularly through prostitution; and also started an advocacy services for women with problematic substance use in Hackney.

Reviewing 2016/17


Why are we supporting the call for the erasure of prostitution–specific criminal records for those who have been prostituted?

05 December 2016

Why are we supporting the call for the erasure of prostitution–specific criminal records for those who have been prostituted?
Wherever you stand on the prostitution debate, one shared ground is that those selling themselves or being sold for sex should not be criminalised and their records should not be disclosed. Criminal records are widely recognised to be a bar to the reintegration of those affected by the criminal justice system. However, prostitution specific records present an additional set of barriers to women exiting prostitution and trying to build a new life.

If you would like to support our work to help women exit prostitution, or any aspect of our work with women, girls and children who have experienced sexual or domestic violence, please donate here

Why are we supporting the call for the erasure of prostitution–specific criminal records for those who have been prostituted?


When’s the Right Time to Work with the Police to Support Women in Prostitution?

28 October 2016

Reading about the police raids in Chinatown and the arrest of 18 people, including several women, for trafficking related matters throws into relief some of the challenges we face as an organisation working to support women in, and exiting from, prostitution. We explore some of them – and what we do and don’t do – here.

When’s the Right Time to Work with the Police to Support Women in Prostitution?


Comment on Home Affairs Select Committee report on prostitution

01 July 2016

The Home Affairs Select Committee published its first report into its hearings on approaches to prostitution on 1 July 2016.

Karen Ingala Smith, CEO of nia, a charity working on all forms of violence against women and girls and with a specialist project, London Exiting Advocacy, that supports women trying to exit prostitution, said;

“There is much to be applauded in this report. It highlights the current lack of vision and direction in policy and practice on prostitution. We fully support calls for the decriminalisation of those who “sell themselves” or “are sold” for sex – the majority of whom are women; and the recommendation that women’s past criminal records for prostitution offences should not be disclosed. We gave evidence to this effect on all these points and welcome such a robust response.”

She continued;

“It is a mistake to believe that the report is calling for full decriminalisation of prostitution, that would be an approach that we could not endorse. We note that the committee intends to continue to seek further evidence before making recommendations about a wider response to prostitution, and has so far reserved judgement on responses to dealing with the role of demand, overwhelmingly men’s demand, for prostitution. We will of course feed into that as well; it is vital to recognise that men’s demand feeds the trade in women.“
“When we talk about prostitution, it is vital that we have a clear understanding of what full, free and informed ‘consent’ and ‘choice’ are. Many women are involved in prostitution as a financial survival strategy. Poverty and economic inequality underpin prostitution and must cause the committee to interrogate the concepts of ‘consent’ and ‘choice’ and whether they are meaningful in this context. It is no coincidence that the women with fewest options are over-represented in prostitution”.

“The committee seems to have a limited understanding of exploitation and inequality – it’s not just about the stereotype of the “pimp”, though they are there in abundance. Seriously, if a woman or girl is hungry or homeless or trying to look after her kids and is desperate, thinking “I know I’ll get a blow job from her and give her £5 or £10” is nothing if not exploitation. It’s certainly not help, it is placing a man’s desire for an orgasm above a woman’s need to survive.”

“We are hugely concerned that women involved in prostitution and wanting to exit, need specialist support to leave prostitution and start anew. An approach that facilitates total decriminalisation, or appears to accept that prostitution is just work like any other and is about choice and consent, is clearly not an approach that is going to understand the need for and investment in, specialist support to exit and build a new life”.

“Having said all that – this report is a step in the right direction and we give it a cautious welcome but a full response to prostitution needs to tackle men’s demand and attitudes that find the exploitation of women and women’s poverty acceptable ”

Announcing our Exciting New Collaboration and Joint Project!

19 May 2016

We’re thrilled to announce our exciting new partnership with Disablement Association Barking and Dagenham (DABD) and Barking and Dagenham Council for Voluntary Services (B&DCVS), working together to open a new women’s centre in Dagenham.

Together we will develop the Huggett Women’s Centre, a women only-service provided by women, providing a range of services for all women and girls aged 11 and above, with a focus on those affected by sexual and domestic violence.

We bring together nia’s 41 years expertise of supporting women, girls and children who have experienced sexual and domestic violence, DABD’s specialism in working with and supporting disabled and socially excluded people, and B&DCVS’s advocacy and support of voluntary sector and community groups.

The project is funded by The Big Lottery who today announced funding of £48.5 million to support at risk women and girls. They received 495 eligible expressions of interest and 93 were organisations were shortlisted to apply. In the end, 63 applications across the UK were awarded funding.

The centre will provide a programme of rolling group work support, workshops, drop-in sessions, training for professionals and community groups and volunteering opportunities. We will develop and provide a new model of wrap-around woman-centred support to women and girls who have experienced any form of sexual or domestic violence based on a holistic integrated service with a group work methodology provided from a feminist perspective.

Huggett Women’s Centre will be named in commemoration of Anne Huggett (1892-1996) a local militant suffragette whose family moved to some of the first council houses built by the borough of Barking in 1903. From the age of 19 she played an active part in the suffrage campaign for women’s right to vote, and claimed that she often got into trouble for her approach. She later became chairman of the women’s section of the local Labour League. Anne Huggett lived to the age of 104, and was proud to be both the country’s oldest surviving Suffragette and the oldest card-carrying member of the Labour Party at the time of her death.

In addition to enabling more women to access support and enhancing what is available in the borough, The Huggett Women’s Centre will embrace the spirit of Annie Huggett, encouraging women to become more actively engaged in their own development, the development of the women’s centre, as feminists and in their own communities. There will be a focus on developing provision targeted to disadvantaged and discriminated-against groups with a community-cohesion ethos.

Karen Ingala Smith, Chief Executive of nia said

“_nia have been supporting women and girls affected by men’s violence for 41 years – but we don’t have a women-only building to work from. That can really make a difference to how women feel about the service they receive._
We’re delighted to have been awarded the funding and looking forward to working with DABD and B&DCVS to create a vibrant and welcoming environment for women and girls to be supported and address the multiple disadvantages that they experience, in particular those relating to sex inequality, race, class and poverty, sexuality, disability and domestic and sexual violence and exploitation.
Listening to women and delivering the services that women want was a key driver of our vision for the centre. We started as we mean to go on – by talking to local women, and asking them what they thought a good women’s centre should do and be, and what was missing from or could enhance existing provision in Barking and Dagenham. Their ideas were woven into the plans for the project. We can’t wait to get started and use our different expertise to try to create something that meets the needs of women from all sections of the community.”

Elaine James, Chief Executive of project partner Disablement Association of Barking and Dagenham, said

“The timing of this project is fantastic. It comes at a time when police receive one domestic violence call every minute in the UK. For women with a disability the incidences of abuse are double those of non-disabled women. No woman should have to live with violence and abuse. Thanks to the funding for Big Lottery DABD , nia and BD – CVS can work together to ensure that all women live without fear and have control of their lives.”

Erika Jenkins, Chief Executive of Barking & Dagenham CVS, said

”The rate of domestic abuse reporting in the borough is one of the highest in London and is consistently so. This innovative project brings together specialists in a unique framework to support women and girls, both directly and by developing services in the borough.”

The project has the support of the Leader of Barking and Dagenham council, Darren Rodwell, who said

“I am delighted that nia are working with Barking and Dagenham CVS and DABD to deliver services to women, girls and children who have experienced domestic and sexual violence in Barking and Dagenham, through the Big Lottery funding. Domestic violence is a significant issue in the borough and the holistic approach to women and girls in a dedicated women’s centre is an excellent development for the borough, which I welcome.”

Comment on Amnesty International vote

11 August 2015

nia, a London based charity supporting women, girls and children who have suffered sexual and domestic violence, expresses disappointment at Amnesty International vote

Chief Executive, Karen Ingala Smith said

“We are disappointed to hear that Amnesty, an organisation that is supposed to protect human rights, has voted in favour of facilitating trade in women.

Women who sell sex face daily abuse, rape, and physical violence, along with humiliation, social isolation and stereotyping. The majority of assaults are committed men who buy sex. Approximately half of women in prostitution in the UK started being paid for sex when they were under 18, that is while they were legally children. Every day through our work supporting survivor-victims of domestic and sexual violence, we hear the realities of women and girls who have been commercially exploited.

At nia we believe that the best outcomes for women, girls and children would be to end demand, to end men’s belief that women are a commodity and to end the poverty and inequality that push women in to prostitution. When asked, 9 out of 10 women who sell sex report wanting to exit, but they face barriers to doing so. We agree that women who sell sex should have full legal protection from exploitation, trafficking and men’s violence. They should be supported and not face criminal sanctions.

We agree with Amnesty that women who sell sex “are one of the most marginalized groups in the world who in most instances face constant risk of discrimination, violence and abuse.” Marginalised women, women in poverty, black and minority ethnic women are hugely over-represented in women who sell sex. So-called ‘choices’ that result from economic necessity do not represent consent, but coercion.

Men’s sense of entitlement to women’s and children’s bodies and sexuality is endorsed when their demand for purchasing sex is legally protected. We believe that this approach will lead to an increase, not decrease, in men’s violence against women and children. Men’s violence against women and girls is a cause and a consequence of inequality between women and men. The majority of those who sell sex are women, the majority of those who buy and profit from women who sell sex are men. Women and men will never be equal of one sex is a commodity and the other is the seller and purchaser.

nia will continue to ensure that all our services are accessible to women who sell sex. And we will continue to campaign to end men’s violence against women, girls and children. With regards to the selling and buying of sex, we will continue to campaign and support campaigns that end demand and support women.”

Reviewing 2014

15 June 2015

In the year between April 2014 and March 2015, we provided face-to-face support to 1,060 women and girls and delivered 1,200 hours of counselling support, plus responded to 2,145 contacts to the Information and Support Line and delivered training to 277 professionals:

  • 243 women at high risk of repeated and serious domestic * violence including homicide were supported by our Independent Domestic Violence Advocacy services in Haringey and Hackney
  • The East London Rape Crisis Information and Support line had 2145 contacts – 1533 contact by phone and 612 contacts by email – with survivors of rape and sexual violence/abuse, as well as family/friends of survivors and agencies enquiring on behalf of survivors in Barking & Dagenham, Hackney, Havering, Newham, Redbridge, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest
  • East London Rape Crisis Independent Sexual Violence Advocates provided practical and emotional one to one support for 105 women and 28 young women who had experienced sexual violence. The ELRC counselling service provided 1200 hours of counselling support.
  • Safe Choices supported 283 young women and girls at risk of or affected by sexual violence, sexual exploitation and gang involvement, 29 through one-to-one intensive support work and 254 through group work and workshops.
  • The Ascent Advice and Outreach Service supported 214 women through individual casework and workshops who had experienced recent or historic domestic and/or sexual violence
  • 156 women experiencing domestic violence and abuse were supported through the IRIS service based in medical surgeries in Hackney
  • The Emma Project refuge supported 10 women who have problematic substance use and were experiencing sexual and domestic violence, including 4 women exploited through prostitution; and a further 11 women through outreach provision and 10 women through group work.
  • Safe Choices trained 277 professionals to better identify and support young women and girls at risk of or affected by gang association/involvement, sexual violence and sexual exploitation

Reviewing 2014


Karen Ingala Smith, Chief Executive of nia wins Positive Role Model for Gender at the UK’ Largest Diversity Awards

29 September 2014

Karen and her award We’re delighted to announce that our Chief Executive, Karen Ingala Smith, has won the Positive Role Model for Gender at The National Diversity Awards.

The National Diversity Awards is an annual celebration of the outstanding achievements of positive role models, entrepreneurs & community organisations across the UK. This year, over 21,000 nominations and endorsements were received paying tribute to inspirational individuals and groups nationwide that have dedicated their lives to enhancing the equality, diversity and inclusion in today’s society.

Karen has worked in women’s charities for 24 years and for the last five years has been CEO of nia, a north-east London based charity supporting women, girls and children who have experienced sexual and domestic violence. nia has been transformed under Karen’s leadership at a time when the unfavourable economic climate has created difficult conditions for women’s organisations. The charity, which was facing imminent closure, has built a highly regarded reputation for responding to the needs of the women, girls and children with an integrated feminist approach to addressing all forms of male violence.

In her spare time, Karen runs a campaign ‘Counting Dead Women’ recording and commemorating women in the UK killed through suspected male violence. The campaign has transformed perceptions of male violence in the UK, with many journalists crediting her with opening their eyes to the reality of men’s fatal violence against women.

Talking about her job, campaign and winning the award, Karen said,

“ I was compelled to start counting dead women in January 2012, when in the first three days of the year, 8 women were killed through men’s violence. Eight dead women in three days: 3 were shot, two stabbed, one strangled, one smothered and one beaten to death through 15 blunt force trauma injuries. I was outraged that these were being reported as isolated incidents and that connections weren’t being made about the occurrence and impact of men’s violence. I didn’t intend to start a campaign, but once I’d started, I just didn’t feel able to stop. We won’t be able to end or even reduce men’s violence against women if we can’t name and analyse it as the problem that it is.

I was pleased to be nominated, delighted to be shortlisted and shocked to win the award for a Positive Role Model for Gender, it means even more coming from the National Diversity Awards with their focus on diversity and inclusion, especially when I frequently talk about gender being a social construct which maintains women and men’s inequality!

Working at nia is never boring and sometimes it’s very challenging, but I feel grateful and proud to have a job working with committed and dedicated women trying to make a difference for other women, girls and children. It’s getting harder and harder to raise the funds to support our work but while women and girls tell us that what we do is important to them and sometimes even lifesaving, we’re going to do our best to carry on.”

To support nia’s work, text NIAX14 £5 or any other amount to 70070 to donate and help us make a difference today.

Karen Ingala Smith, Chief Executive of nia, nominated for Positive Role Model for gender at the UK’ Largest Diversity Awards

17 June 2014

We’re very proud that our Chief Executive Karen Ingala Smith, has been nominated for the Positive Role Model for gender award at The 2014 National Diversity Awards.

The ceremony celebrates some of the excellent and inspiring achievements of positive role models and community organisations from across the UK. The awards aim to recognise nominees in their respective fields of diversity including age,
disability, gender, race, faith, religion and sexual orientation.

In her free time, Karen runs a feminist blog about male violence against women and has been recording and commemorating UK women killed through suspected male violence in a campaign called Counting Dead Women, each month adding the women killed in the previous month to her list. She said
“Between January 2012 and the end of May 2014, 333 UK women had been killed through suspected male violence, that’s one woman dead every 2.6 days. These are not 333 isolated incidents. We need to make connections and look at male violence against women as a social problem.

I’m delighted to be nominated for a positive role model award but whether or not you endorse my nomination, please sign the petition ‘Stop Ignoring Dead Women’. I’m trying to persuade the government to fund an independently run ‘femicide observatory’ – a fit-for-purpose record of fatal male violence against women where relationships between victim and perpetrator and social, cultural and psychological issues can be analysed – because I think we can do more to end male violence against women.”

The National Diversity Awards 2014 in association with Microsoft will be held at The Hurlingham Club, London on September 26th. The largest diversity awards ceremony of its kind has attracted a growing list of top employers such as Sky, Financial Ombudsman Service and Price Waterhouse Coopers. The prestigious black-tie event has also gained support from a number of celebrities including Stephen Fry, Misha B and Ade Adepitan honouring the rich tapestry of our nation, recognising individuals and groups from grass roots communities who have contributed to creating a more diverse and inclusive society.

Nominations are now open and close July 18th 2014. Shortlisted nominees will be announced shortly after this date.

Endorse Karen’s well-deserved nomination at

Download a copy of this press release


Annual review: Looking back over 2013/14

12 June 2014

nia is a London based charity providing cutting –edge services to end violence against women and children. Our services are developed within a feminist framework which places the responsibility for violence solely with the perpetrators of that violence whilst recognising the social context of male violence against women.

The organisation was originally established in 1975 in response to a growing need for safe accommodation for women and children who had experienced to domestic violence in Hackney. In 1994 the organisation achieved charitable status and broadened its remit to working to end all forms of violence against women and children.

In the year between April 2013 and March 2014:

  • 431 women at high risk of repeated and serious domestic violence including homicide were supported by our Independent Domestic Violence Advocacy service in Haringey and Hackney
  • The East London Rape Crisis Information and Support line had 1238 contacts – 902 contact by phone and 336 contacts by email – with survivors of rape and sexual violence/abuse, as well as family/friends of survivors and agencies enquiring on behalf of survivors in Barking & Dagenham, Hackney, Havering, Newham, Redbridge, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest
  • East London Rape Crisis Independent Sexual Violence Advocates provided practical and emotional one to one support for 87 women who had experienced sexual violence and a further 75 women were supported through counselling.
  • Safe Choices and East London Rape Crisis Young Women’s Advocates supported 141 young women and girls at risk of or affected by sexual violence, sexual exploitation and gang involvement through both group and casework support.
  • The Ascent Advice and Outreach Service supported 143 women through individual casework and workshops who had experienced recent or historic domestic and/or sexual violence
  • 94 women experiencing domestic violence and abuse were supported through the IRIS service based in medical surgeries in Hackney
  • The Emma Project refuge supported 13 women who have problematic substance use and were experiencing sexual and domestic violence, including 9 women exploited through prostitution and a further 14 women through outreach provision.
  • Safe Choices trained 312 professionals to better identify and support young women and girls at risk of or affected by gang association/involvement, sexual violence and sexual exploitation
  • The Family Support Service supported 31 women with 48 children affected by domestic violence in Hackney
  • 34 children who have lived with domestic violence were supported by the Play Therapy Service
  • The IRIS model was commissioned in 10 new Local Authority areas through our partnership with the University of Bristol and Nextlink, extending the range of medical practices supporting women who are experiencing domestic violence and abuse
  • 15 new volunteers have been recruited, trained and joined the Information and Support Line Team. The volunteer team is now 22 women strong.

Feedback from women and girls included

“I took part in a nia course and at first I went along because of my group, I thought we’d have a laugh and spend gossip time together. But after our first session was over, I was excited for the next session to come. Your first thought is, this is about gangs and being involved in gangs, and you don’t want to be classed as a gang member so you’re sceptical, but it’s not. It’s about what is going on around us as women and situations women can get into. I found out a lot through this course, but what I found out the most was my own value as a woman, my rights and what others are going through. I would encourage anyone to do this course – I don’t know if everyone will have brilliant mentors like mine but if everyone on the Nia team are like them you’ll have a blast. The best thing about this course is I learnt a lot about things I thought I knew about, and group work and activities brought a new understanding of others’ opinions, thoughts and experiences to me.”

“[nia’s] IRIS [project] has made my journey much easier for me to deal with. I have not had such help or support with all the other services involved with my family. The women that worked with me and supported me and my family, I am very thankful for. Without them I would not like to think what would have happened to us. I am still trying to heal the wounds but am well and on my way. It’s a long process but from being in that dark place, I am glad to say that IRIS were there to help me see that I was not alone and there is light. Thankful, grateful, confident, willing, optimistic and finding my happy.”

“[My] solicitor contacted me just now and he apologised for his non efforts so I’m happy to accept that (manners get you far) so all systems go… So once again thank you for your efforts and hard work… I wish I met you years ago … Even though I still get angry ‘n’ stuff but meeting you gave me a little bit of hope n you kept it alive … If only the world was full of feminists, eh?”

“I feel more confident when I leave here, when I’m walking home, I feel more confident in myself on these afternoons. I’m learning new things and it’s motivating me”

“These sessions have changed me in the outside world. Like you think it’s ok because you grew up in it but now I’ve started to think differently. I think girls should help each other out more when something happens, instead of just calling her a slut and saying it’s her fault”

“It’s changed what I think about how my brother talks about girls now, like I think what if that was me? It’s not just with my friends, but family too.”

“I’ve learnt a lot of things I didn’t know, and I actually remember what I’ve done in this lesson!”

“We can talk about things here that we couldn’t in front of boys. I’m learning how to deal with problems with men.”

And from professionals:

‘I am very pleased with the programme that was delivered to the girls. The activities and discussion allowed the girls to express their own thoughts and opinions, and the girls all felt that this was one of the main factors which made the group enjoyable and successful. I found the sessions to be very interactive and flexible to the needs of the group. Each session had a purpose and each topic was delivered very well so that all the young women were engaged in the activity. Following the group work all the girls have shown that there has been a positive impact and they have a better understanding of particular issues affecting them. Consequences and anger are the two main topics which had a general impact on all of the girls and how they conduct themselves within school. All the young women found the sessions enjoyable and I would definitely like to consider delivering the programme again to a different group of girls, possibly in the next academic year with the new year 10’s’.

“I was impressed by the content and the facilitator’s skills and control of the group. I expected it to be more subtle but was surprised (in a good way) at how challenging it was for the young people. I was also pleased that it was an unapologetic feminist model. I really appreciate the opportunity to have observed and it really does help me to be able to talk positively and knowingly about work being done in our schools.”

A huge thank you to the volunteers who give their time to run the East London Rape Crisis Information and Support Line, including Michelle Beckford, Bryony Beynon, Amanda Boateng, Lona Chaloner, Gina Floyd, Katherine Gill, Faye Harrison, Kate Higgins, Josephine Hocking, Soraya Janmohamed and Jennifer Parillon

Print version: Annual Review: Looking back over 2013/14


Hooray! Eva Wiseman is nia's new patron!

28 August 2012

We’re delighted to announce that the brilliant columnist Eva Wiseman is our new patron.

We’ve long admired Eva as a champion of issues affecting women and girls, so we’re particularly pleased that she’s supporting our work to end gender based violence.

Eva writes:
Every hour in London, a sex attack is reported. That meant 6,718 sexual offences and 3,267 rapes in one year, with many more unreported. Domestic violence is even more common; 46, 900 offences were recorded by the police in the same year. That’s 5 per hour, or 128 per day. Whether or not women want to go to the police, they can come to nia.
A service local to north east London, nia is constantly developing new services to support those experiencing gender based violence. In addition to practical support, they help women put the abuse in context – placing their personal experiences in a wider framework of gender discrimination – which can stop them blaming themselves, and increases their commitment to changing their lives.
They are vocal about how class and race relate to disadvantage, and they make a point of working with the women other organisations have refused – they run the only refuge dedicated to women who have problems with drugs and alcohol, and never deny access to those seeking a route out of prostitution as well as other forms of gender violence. “We’ve really tried to think about the causes of violence, and we want our work to contribute to ending violence against women,” explains the nia project’s chief executive, Karen Ingala Smith, “So preventive work with young people is important. Again this is in the context of their life experiences so we’re particularly interested in working with young women who might be labelled as problematic or who are involved in violent offending.” The people nia helps are the people searching for a voice. Some who, since finding the courage to seek help, have been turned away by other charities. Says Karen, “We don’t like to say no.”
Your support will allow nia to help more women, children and young people. Donate today, so they can continue saying yes.