Dear Women without Borders, dear SAVE Sisters, dear Friends,
Today is the anniversary of the 7/7 bombings, and our thoughts and wishes go out to all those affected by the bombings - victims, survivors, friends, and family members. We also think of the family members of the attackers, who should not be stigmatized by the actions of individuals - the wife of Mohammed Siddique Khan, one of the attackers, was so disturbed she lost the baby she was carrying.
SAVE - Sisters Against Violent Extremism was founded to find alternatives to violence as an answer in situations of hopelessness and despair. Active dialogue and bridge-building initiatives are the only way forward.
It is easy to see everything in political categories, but we must also consider the human face of the tragedy. Gill Hicks, who lost both her legs in the 7/7 attacks, has left a huge impression on me. She now works with disenfranchised youth to show the other end of terror: the killing and maiming that is so easily glorified or reduced to a statistic becomes real to them. “They can look at me and think ‘I wouldn’t like to not have legs. I can’t believe that you are here, talking to us.’ Suddenly they can put themselves in a different position.” I can only hope that Gill leaves just as large an impression on the youth with whom she works.
The trauma of that Gill Hicks and so many others continue to go through will not end injustice and exclusion. As Gill helps us to understand, “Not taking a violent route is a more powerful choice than taking it.”
The international women’s movement made us aware of our rights, and we are privileged to be part of this movement. Rights come with responsibilities, however, and SAVE highlights the fact that women can and should play a key role in combating violent extremism from the grassroots to the highest decision making levels. Women have a responsibility to safeguard an insecure world.
Security is both a private and a political matter, and it is with us to be architects of change and to build a bridge between these two spheres.
Edit Schlaffer and the Women without Borders / SAVE Team