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Heartbroken brother paints picture of his sister who was slain by estranged husband



BRISTOL POST — Shuayb Harris gave judge heartfelt tribute about “vibrant and loving mum-of-two” who spent all her money on clothes and toys for her children.

The brother of murdered mum Asiyah Harris made an emotional victim statement to a judge.

Fighting back tears, with his voice full of emotion, Shuayb Harris painted a picture of his sister as a vibrant, loving young woman full of life.

Members of the jury were visibly moved as he read aloud his heartfelt tribute to her, and spoke of the catastrophic consequences of her death at Dahir’s hands.

Dahir listened intently from the secure dock, having just been convicted of the killing.

Mr Harris said: “I am making this statement on behalf of my family in relation to the loss of my sister Asiyah Harris who died on Tuesday, August 22, 2017 in Bristol.

“My sister was a young mother, only 27 years of age, who had two young children, a son Jabril aged eight and a daughter Mariah who is only five.

“Asiyah was a fun, vibrant and determined sister. She was very kind and warm towards people. She had a very strong mind and would do what she wanted to do in life.

“Asiyah was very talented with languages and she could speak English, Swedish, Somali and Arabic fluently. She could also speak some French and Turkish.

“Asiyah was working as a translator and she enjoyed it very much.

“She was a loving mother and she loved both of her children very much.

“Asiyah would always spend all of her money on clothes and toys for the children.

“Asiyah loved writing and wrote poetry and songs. She had lots of friends and would do their hair and make-up.

“She liked to play basketball and go swimming.

“At weekends we would go to Islamic school and she enjoyed going there. She also liked horses and would go horse riding.

“When Asiyah was living in Sweden she loved the snow and ice skating.

“The effect of Asiyah’s death on our family has been devastating.

“We have an acceptance of what happened to Asiyah because of our Muslim religion but it is a great loss to us.

“My father’s health has deteriorated rapidly and he has suffered with two heart attacks and has been hospitalised for two months.

“I have suffered from depression as a result of what happened to my sister.

“My mother has suffered greatly and stopped working.

“The situation was made worse because we had to think about Asiyah being in the refrigerator at the mortuary and we should have been burying her according to our religion.

“Both Jabril and Mariah have been affected and are traumatised by what has happened.

“We feel betrayed by Adan, especially as he was her husband and we trusted him to care for her and look after her.”

Arts & Culture

Somali-British poet Momtaza Mehri named young people’s laureate for London



THE GUARDIAN — The 24-year-old Somali-British poet Momtaza Mehri, who has been chosen as the new young people’s laureate for London, is hoping to spend her year in the role convincing young people “to see poetry as part of their every day, rather than in some dusty tome, or academic niche interest”.

Mehri, who has a background in biochemical science and wrote the poetry chapbook sugah. lump. prayer, has been shortlisted for this year’s Brunel African poetry prize and won last year’s Out-Spoken Page poetry prize. As laureate, Mehri hopes to encourage young people to voice their concerns and experiences through poetry.

The poet, from Kilburn in north-west London, was selected for the role by a panel of arts organisations and poets, and is, according to Spread the Word’s chair of trustees Rishi Dastidar, “an inspired choice” and a “poet to watch”.

“For young people to have an artist who is an ambassador for them, who brings their concerns, struggles and joys to those in authority, and the wider world, is vital,” Dastidar said. “Her poetry is precise and powerful, and rich with images that are haunting. She is not afraid to tackle the biggest of subjects, which, combined with her talent, is going to give the role a renewed sense of purpose and visibility.”
Mehri said she was exposed to oral forms of poetry by her family when growing up, but only began writing for publication around four years ago. “Over time I honed, or found, my voice, and that allowed me to feel comfortable, finding the poetic voice I felt was most suited to me. Obviously at the beginning you’re very much inspired by your influences,” she said. “I think the poetry I write is interested in questions or ideas around disruption or movement, whether it’s movement of people or places, movement between different ideas, between how things change over different generations, and in themes of migration and urban spaces.”

During her time in the role, Mehri will be looking to amplify the voices of Londoners aged between 13 and 25, “to let them lead conversations, to be as inspired by them as hopefully they can be inspired by me”. She will work with writer-development agency Spread the Word on youth-focused residencies across London, head a tour to six outer London boroughs, and co-host a special project for young London poets called The Young People’s Poetry Lab.

According to research from the National Literacy Trust, 84% of teachers who participated in a poetry programme for disadvantaged children in London schools over a five-year period said their writing skills had improved.

Outgoing young people’s laureate for London, Caleb Femi, said that “poetry has the potential to play a vital part in self-expression and artistic enjoyment in the lives of young people”.

“We need a dedicated person who can assist in integrating the joys of poetry into the everydayness of young Londoners,” he added. “We are extremely lucky to have a talented and dedicated poet such as Momtaza Mehri appointed as the new young people’s laureate for London. Her tenure is sure to be an extraordinary one.”

Mehri said that she wanted to: “Reach everybody, to allow people to see poetry as part of everyday living in London, and all the different poetry traditions that people bring to London.”

“I am very much aware of the fact that I came out of a very different poetic tradition, and what that’s brought to my writing of the English language. So I want to be aware of the fact that people are carrying different poetic influences, whether they consider themselves poets or not,” she said.

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Bristol’s Somali Kitchen: Empowering women through cooking



Suad Yusuf set up the Somali Kitchen in Bristol to bring women together to share recipes, promote healthy eating and to support and empower one another.

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London lawyer acquitted of forcing daughter to undergo female genital mutilation



LONDON, (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – A London solicitor accused of forcing his daughter to undergo female genital mutilation was acquitted on Thursday, increasing pressure on police and prosecutors who have yet to secure a conviction for FGM more than 30 years after it was outlawed.

The prosecution was only the second to be brought under FGM legislation introduced in 1985.

During a nine-day trial at London’s Central Criminal Court, the prosecution alleged that the defendant had twice arranged for someone to come to the family home to cut his daughter as a form of punishment when she was around nine years old.

But the defendant, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said in an emotional testimony that the allegations were fabrications arising from a very acrimonious divorce.

He said his wife had repeatedly threatened to destroy him and had turned their children against him.

“I didn’t cut my daughter. I would never hurt my daughter,” he told the jury. “I would give my life for my children.”

A medical expert confirmed the girl’s genitalia had been cut but said the scars were unusual and could not say when the injuries occurred.

The 50-year-old lawyer, who comes from West Africa, said FGM was not practiced in his community and he had no idea who had cut his daughter. He was also cleared of three counts of child cruelty.

Police and prosecutors have faced mounting pressure in recent years to secure a conviction for FGM as part of broader efforts to eradicate the practice, which usually involves the partial or total removal of external genitalia.

An estimated 137,000 women and girls in England and Wales have undergone FGM, which affects immigrant communities from various countries including Somalia, Sierra Leone, Eritrea, Sudan, Nigeria and Egypt.

Politicians and campaigners, who believe thousands of girls in Britain are at risk of FGM, have said a successful prosecution would act as a deterrent.

Prosecutors were criticised over the first FGM trial in 2015 when a doctor was accused of performing FGM while treating a woman who had given birth. He was acquitted.

A leading obstetrician branded the trial a “ludicrous” travesty of justice which would leave doctors on labour wards terrified of touching women who had been subjected to FGM.

A second trial involving FGM – but brought under child cruelty laws – collapsed last month. (Editing by Katy Migiro. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, which covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, corruption and climate change. Visit to see more stories.)

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