Kazuri Properties, a small social enterprise has operated from this building since June 2013. We operate an office, emergency and crisis services for women who have suffered domestic violence, are at risk of homelessness or fleeing terror. This is an essential community service.
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Mala’s Story , 19
I am a woman who was born and raised in east London. When I reached 16, my mother told me I had to be cut, it is the tradition in our culture. I was very frightened and I ran away to my aunt but she was scared of the family so she returned me to my family. My father beat me that night until I bled and my eyes were shut swollen from bruises. He threw me out of the house and said I had shamed the family. He locked the door and said I should not come home, I was dead to him.
I ran away but the police did not know what to do. Finally, I was told about a charity that helps women with housing but I had no money and no way to pay for anything, but the people were very kind. They gave me one bedroom in a flat in Camden, to share with another woman. I am attending cooking classes and sewing classes and I do volunteering as a sales assistant in a local charity shop. When I came home one afternoon in March, the locks had been changed. I was very frightened, I thought I had done something bad and the charity had evicted me. I called the manager and she was very angry and surprised. I was crying in the streets, I had nowhere to go.
My biggest fear is that I will be returned to my family and I will be cut. I have cousin sisters who have been cut. They get infections; it is painful to go to the toilet. One of them had a baby and almost died because she lost too much blood in childbirth.
One of the workers of the charity came and got a key and she let us in, they promised us they did not change the locks and they did not know what was happening. My flatmate was also very scared and frightened; we did not want to go to the police or social services, they do not know what to do with women in our situation. They never believe us.
Anise’s Story 23
I was pregnant the first time he hit me. I fell backwards down the stairs, He punched my face, he kicked my stomach with his work boots on.
I lost the baby. I was 21. Two years later I got pregnant again and he hit me again. He told me I was too ugly to have his baby. This time I ran out of the house and neighbours called the police. When they came they said I had provoked him and we should not bring the police into our arguments.
I had nowhere to go, the local council didn’t have anywhere for me. A friend of my sister was doing some voluntary work for a social enterprise and she called the owner and asked if they had anywhere I could stay. It was three days before Xmas. The lady put me up in a flat in Camden, where I have lived for 10 months. It’s a cosy flat, not luxury, and it has everything we need, sheets, towels, there was even food in the fridge and the bed had been made for me when I stayed the first night. For the first few months I was scared to be by myself, than I got a flat mate and we could cook together and clean the flat together.
I was at a counselling session that afternoon, I walked home because it was a lovely sunny day. I got to the flat and my key wouldn’t turn in the lock. The restaurant owner came out and told me the keys had been changed by the new owner. I was angry and scared. I thought we had been locked out. When the lady came from Kazuri, the restaurant owner gave her the new key but I felt like I had been kicked in the stomach again. It took a long time to feel safe and having the locks changed on our home was a mean thing to do.