Part of a series of 16 stories featuring women we have accompanied through the Finding Safety Project, shared for the 16 Days of Activism.
Mary came to Australia almost two years ago. She was forced to flee due to threats to her life and her family.
Mary is an activist against Female Genital Mutilation (‘FGM’), a common practice in her home country, where women and girls are subjected to a procedure that involves partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.
In her home country, Mary rescued young girls who were being initiated for FGM. Mary has two daughters who are still in her home country, and whose lives remain at risk for this reason.
When Mary arrived in Sydney she was offered accommodation by a community member, who then referred Mary to the team at JRS Australia’s Finding Safety Project.
At the time of the referral, Mary was not feeling ready to share her story. She sought financial support for rent, food, and help accessing employment.
The Finding Safety Project also offers a range of activities in the Women’s Space, such as art therapy, to support Mary in her healing, recovery and empowerment.
Mary now engages regularly with her caseworker, the community and projects in the Women’s Space. It was important that Mary felt safe to tell her story only when she was ready to.
Mary works part-time at a community kitchen and continues to participate in training with the JRS Australia Employment program with the intention of securing long-term, meaningful employment.
Mary remains a powerful activist for women and girls globally:
‘Women and girls have suffered and continue to suffer several forms of violence, and my country… is not an exception. The United Nations formed the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and Girls. I call upon countries to not only sign this treaty but also to uphold and respect it, and to promote the dignity and respect of women and girls’.
*name changed to protect story-teller’s identity
16 Days of Activism
JRS Australia is participating in the call to action presented by the 16 Days of Activism to End Violence Against Women and Girls. This story has been shared as part of our “16 Days, 16 Stories” Campaign for 2023, focusing on the work we do through our Finding Safety Project to support women on temporary visas who have experienced or are at risk of sexual or gender-based violence.
We sincerely hope that reading these stories, and learning more about the important work our Finding Safety Project does in the absence of any other coordinated or government support, will inspire you to invest in us, invest in the women we serve, and invest in a future where women and girls are free from all forms of violence.
Visit our 16 Days, 16 Stories campaign page to learn more.