July 28 2014 Latest news:
Adam Barnett, Reporter
Monday, April 14, 2014
A 15-year-old student at Newham College organised a seminar on women’s rights that featured speeches by famous campaigners.
Abdul Vijad, who lives in Manor Park, held the seminar at the College’s East Ham Campus as part of his Citizenship GCSE.
Abdul, who was born in India, says he chose to invite speakers to discuss female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage because they affect the lives of many young people.
He said: “We split our class into two groups - one organised forced marriage and the other FGM.
“We know that they are culturally sensitive issues and some people don’t want touch them.
“But we also know that if we don’t look at them nothing will ever change.”
He added: “FGM can cause physical harm and long lasting health issues. Young people should be aware that forced marriage is a cultural issue, but they should also know that they shouldn’t have to go through it without their informed consent.”
The seminars featured speeches by Sara Khan, director of the Islamic women’s group Inspire, and Dina Baky, Youth Projects Officer for the FORWARD campaign against FGM.
Sara Khan said: “It’s fantastic that Abdul’s initiated these seminars. It’s really quite inspiring. He’s a model for young men in that he’s showing these issues affect not just women but everyone in the community.
She added: “A lot of young people don’t really know about forced marriage, and what they can do about it. Now, if their friends are effected they will know what to do.”
Abdul said the seminars were a success, with around 80 students attending, and would like to organise others on tackling sexism and racism.
After his GCSEs he hopes to study sociology, anthropology and journalism at King’s College London and pursue a career in photojournalism.
For more information visit wewillinspire.com and forwarduk.org.uk.