Its not always easy to hear of heartbreaking issues in the world, especially when you are overwhelmed with day to day life, and just out having a social catch up with friends.
If your anything like me, before you know it your hooked with compassion, and have to get involved in some way or other. Whether its organising a fund raising concert, political demonstration or a conference to raise awareness, you just can’t sit in ignorance. You have to do something!
One things for sure, I have been left no room for complacency!
Effective world changing British activism takes place around cups of tea and cakes, in kitchens, gardens and yes even …Womens Bible Studies.
I ended up on a unpredictable life changing bible study with teacher Gilly Hall. She looked at some seemingly insignificant people, and difficult stories from different angles. Raising questions which highlighted cultural doctrinal issues addressing some important and overlooked theological facts.
You know the saying,” you think the small things are not important until you spend a night in bed with a mosquit”. Yes.. It was that impressionable… in a good way!
Amazed I began to re-evaluate my own identity, worth, and entertain the idea that I was no longer seen as the “lesser sex” (as I had so wrongly questioned almost my whole life!)
Who had taught me to think like this? Where did this view come from?…. Suddenly some real complex questions like these arose, we took them back to the garden in the book of Genesis. I was truly liberated by what I now saw, I had come into the stories, beyond the complicated restrictive words in the pages. And there was a new story emerging in my mind of the fall and redemption of mankind.
As I began to fully embrace my views in equality in the sexes (also known as feminism), I found it totally compatible with my faith and love of Jesus.
My fascination and interest rocketed to further exploration of the bible, looking on with new lenses. It soon became apparent that I am fully validated, as God perfectly had, has and is creating me, in His image, and fully woman.
Soon enough, over more tea, we began to share our own stories and soon enough the subject of women and abuse came up. Sadly almost every one of us in the room that day had a painful encounter of our sufferings due to being born women.
Some shared experiences of a sexual violence, child abuse, rape, harassment, and domestic violence. Others shared of their disappointments of being overlooked, restricted and suffered inequality due to the simple common thread… they were born women.
My quirky fun friend Michele, began to get really serious as she raised the harrowing subject of violence and abuse against women, and she even spoke of it going on in unbroken silence in the Church.
After a emotional plea, she gave a few of us copies of the book “The scars across humanity” by English philosopher, sociologist and theologian Elaine Storkey to read. In her book Elaine investigates the different forms of violence experienced by women across the globe today. From FGM, child brides, female infanticide, domestic abuse, prostitution, rape and honour killings.
Press Red Movement and Conference
Outraged and moved by these findings, Michele gathered a group of us to meet, pray and talk. Eventually along with a couple of gifted strategists we set out to do something, anything, just trying to make a difference in our community and beyond.
We set up “Press Red”.
A movement that would support, engage and facilitate charities who are active in fighting and educating areas of abuse that women currently are subject to.
We held the first conference 29th April 2017 and the event sold out. Over 300 people attended the Press Red Conference in Manchester flocking from all over the UK. Elaine Storkey was our key speaker, and we had many amazing charities representing like Restore, Hope for Justice, Naked Truth, Compassion, Respect me, and many more.
Press Red Song
I was commissioned to write a song for the conference addressing the issues of gender based violence, but I just couldn’t shake off the burden I have regarding the heartbreaking subject of FGM. (Female Genital Mutilation)
I had to commit myself someway to the cause, playing my part in ending FGM, exposing the barbaric truth behind this evil practise.
What is FGM?
Female genital mutilation (FGM) is a procedure where the female genitals are deliberately cut, injured or changed, but where there’s no medical reason for this to be done.
It’s also known as “female circumcision” or “cutting”, and by other terms such as sunna, gudniin, halalays, tahur, megrez and khitan, among others.
FGM is usually carried out on young girls between infancy and the age of 15, most commonly before puberty starts. It is illegal in the UK and is child abuse.
It’s very painful and can seriously harm the health of women and girls. It can also cause long-term problems with sex, childbirth and mental health.
There are four main types of FGM:
- Clitoridectomy – removing part or all of the clitoris.
- Excision – removing part or all of the clitoris and the inner labia (lips that surround the vagina), with or without removal of the labia majora (larger outer lips).
- Infibulation – narrowing of the vaginal opening by creating a seal, formed by cutting and repositioning the labia.
- Other harmful procedures to the female genitals, including pricking, piercing, cutting, scraping or burning the area.
Writing Press Red
I wrote the song whilst all the stories of these women from Elaine’s book were fresh in my mind, and the masses upon masses of women who had never lived to tell their stories haunted me.
I thought about my mum and how much I watched her suffer, and the many women in my community who had or were suffering Domestic Violence, and the absence of justice.
All the children affected by what they’ve been exposed to, especially the little girls growing up at odds with their gender because of the risks and vulnerability it brings being a girl.
Finally my own experiences, my memory lane is plagued with the twisted seeds of sexual abuse I suffered as a child.
Writing the Press Red song was a powerful experience. Simple but painful words and sentences poured out, I could feel the mass weight of grief followed by waves of various emotions.
Now I am not in a strong position of influence, after all I’m an unknown artist, and I pay a high price to create, write and release music.
I live each day at a time, and as far as funds go, its not been the most comfortable or easy lifestyle choice – especially with a family.
When I write a song like Press Red, I have to weigh up if I can responsibly shuttle out this song.
Its a lot of time and work to write, produce, record, and release songs. So the music side alone is already a big ask. Raising awareness deserves a minimum 100% commitment, otherwise its just not worth taking on.
But I decided to run with this.
Being part of Press Red is exciting, as we grow and hopefully get to be involved with more charities and individuals, fighting injustice, abuse and violence against women worldwide.
I do hope my song makes a difference even if its to one person who has suffered, but if I can help raise awareness with this song one day, that would be amazing. Little by little, just like that little mosquito we can make an impact!
Manchester is officially the first City in the UK to have a zero tolerance approach to FGM, that makes me yet again very proud to be Mancunian today.
Press Red Lyrics
“Stop. Don’t cut away,
That which was meant to remain,
Stop. Don’t take her out,
She was chose to birth his seed,
Not suffer without,
The worlds running red,
An its gone un-said,
The worlds running red,
Left so many dead,
The world its running red.
Stop. Don’t look away,
Hear her voice and end her pain today.
Stop don’t turn away,
All their cry’s now heard to change the way.
Stop. Don’t trade her soul,
She’s worth more than rubies, money, silver or gold.
Stop. Don’t break her heart,
It beats life around the world,
Her given part.
Running dry…. Live’s go by,
It’s running dry.. Cries go by.”