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Community work

Know Your Human Rights

Our Know Your Human Rights tool translates the practical resources co-produced on a previous BIHR project into an interactive, accessible and wide reaching online tool.

The additional section for women survivors of domestic abuse focuses specifically on rights and issues relevant to their interactions with public services that have duties to protect their rights, keep them safe and help rebuild their lives after domestic abuse.

How we made the tool

Our original tool was funded by the Legal Education Foundation and is particularly relevant for people with mental health or mental capacity issues, and those who advocate on their behalf, including formal advocates, families and carers.

We then received additional funding from the Tech v Abuse initiative to create a branch of the platform specifically for women survivors of domestic abuse.

To design and develop this tool, we worked with women survivors of domestic abuse, and the staff that support them, to create an online tool which will support women to know their human rights and the duties of public services to respect and protect these, not only to keep them safe (which is vital) but to also help rebuild their lives.

The views and needs of women were central to this project. We mapped and tested directly with women and VAWG groups that directly support women. We wanted to ensure the tool provides women with all the information they need, in their pockets, for meetings with housing staff, education, social workers, police and others, enabling them to have the power of legal language in what are often difficult interactions.

The impact of this tool

Too few public services (and their frontline staff) know what their legal duties are to meet people's human rights, including to the right to choice, to be heard, to well-being, participation in the community, to be able to enjoy their home, and to not be discriminated against. However, these rights are all vital to enable women to rebuild their lives following domestic abuse.

We’ve all heard the saying “knowledge is power” a million times. This is of course true; having knowledge about our human rights is the essential starting point. But when we have past experiences which might impact our confidence or possibility to stand up for ourselves or we are in a situation where there is a perceived or real power imbalance (for example, when an individual is interacting with a public service), we need to have more than just the knowledge. We need to know how human rights work in practice and have the confidence to use them.

That is why “lightbulb” moments are so important – because truly, where do we, as ordinary people or as professionals supporting women or providing public services, really learn about our human rights and what they mean for our life and work? We frequently ask this question at BIHR and overwhelmingly we hear that human rights knowledge and confidence just isn’t part of our general education or training and development in our jobs.

We hope through this project and the Know Your Human Rights Tool, more women survivors of domestic abuse and the people supporting them will feel empowered to stand up for their human rights.

Women attending workshop

“Given my past experiences I have really struggled with standing up for myself and my rights, I haven’t had any confidence. But now I know that it is the law for me to have my rights upheld, I feel like I can use human rights when I want to challenge a decision or try to get a better solution.”

Anna, Independent Domestic Violence Advisor (IDVA) Stalking Specialist, Changing Pathways

"Often the clients we work with have a limited understanding of their own human rights and how this intersects with their experiences of domestic abuse and the legal obligations and responsibilities of professional agencies that are supporting them. Having a group of clients work with BIHR to develop the Human Rights Tool and participate in ‘mapping’ sessions, has provided a platform for victims/survivors to both learn about their rights, and also ensure that the information is accessible to others experiencing domestic abuse. The individuals that participated have felt incredibly empowered since gaining a much deeper understanding of their human rights, and how they are able to use these to advocate for themselves when engaging with professionals.

Often, it can appear that Human Rights are not considered when fundamental decisions regarding the client’s situation, are being made by other professional bodies such as social care and the police, and therefore it is imperative that Human Rights are considered by all professionals engaging with individuals experiencing domestic abuse. The sessions have been invaluable in allowing both the victims/survivors and case working teams to develop more confidence in using Human Rights in advocacy work to achieve positive outcomes."

Our partners

Everyone at BIHR would like to say a massive thank you to all the women and staff who were involved in this project.

Especially our funders: The Tech vs. Abuse Initiative, coordinated by Comic Relief and supported by the Clothworkers Foundation and the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation.

And our partners: Juno Women's Aid and Changing Pathways.

The future of this tool

This was seed funding to help us use a participative approach working directly with women survivors and support groups to develop the first version of a human rights self-advocacy website for survivors of domestic abuse. Most of this work was carried out during the Covid-19 pandemic, which made it significantly more challenging for the women we worked with (and BIHR) to produce this tool.

However, we know from the survivors who have shaped it that this tool has an important place to help women rebuild their lives after abuse, empowering them with the language to rights and duties when seeking the support they need from public services.

We very much hope this is the first stage of this site and are committed to seeking further funding to help us continue its development with survivors.

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