Rani Bilkhu Community leader finalist, Divas of colour 2016

Rani BRani Bilkhu has been fighting for human rights and gender equality within
communities and challenging accepted social practices which lead to violence
against women and girls. She has been raising awareness on these issues on a
local, national and international level.

Rani advises government bodies locally and nationally and is often consulted
by foreign embassies on issues relating to Domestic violence, FGM, grooming
and radicalisation. Rani is a public speaker specialising on issues of sex
selection abortions and all forms of honour based violence within the Asian
Outside India and China, Rani has been campaigning on issues of gender
inequality and son preference and was instrumental in having a vote on this
issue in the Houses of Parliament. Rani also contributed to the Department
of Health’s research and analysis on Abortion on grounds of sex of the
foetus. Rani believes that there is a direct link with domestic abuse,
forced and coerced abortions and preference for sons in Asian communities
Inequality being at the centre of all domestic abuse Rani believes that sex
selection abortions is the first act of violence against women and girls and
the precursor of all forms of abuse of women.

Her projects are progressive and innovative working with communities. One
such project is the Ugly Side of Beauty which raises awareness of Forced
Marriage, honour based violence and domestic violence to hair and beauty
professional, wedding planners and fashion industry. In addition Rani is
hoping for colleges and academies to include Forced Marriage, domestic
violence and honour based violence as a module.

The Jeena suitcases are an initiative whereby we attend community events,
young people’s events, faith, music events under the ruse of getting
attendees to donate towards these suitcases aimed at vulnerable individuals
but the underlining agenda is to raise awareness of Forced Marriage,
domestic violence, Female Genital Mutilation, human trafficking etc. Many of
the issues that Rani deals with are hidden forms of abuse which are
difficult to identify and victims are often hidden away from prying eyes,
therefore Rani has learnt to tread sensitively in order to uncover abuse and
victimisation of vulnerable individuals. She understands that in order to
change centuries old thinking and traditions she will require the
cooperation from within the community.

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