Domestic violence charity Sistah Space marks five years since the murders of ‘community giant’ Valerie Forde and her baby daughter
- Credit: sistah space
Valerie Forde’s daughter Carisse joined the Speaker of Hackney and the founder of a specialist domestic violence charity to mark what would have been her 50th birthday on Saturday.
Valerie and her 22-month-old baby daughter Real Jahzara were murdered five years ago on March 31, 2014, by her ex-partner, the child’s father Roland McKoy.
A homicide review found the Met had not demonstrated either competence in their duty to investigate a death threat, or an understanding of working with partner agencies, which “could have opened up a second line of defence”.
Former Hackney Council registrar Ngozi Headley-Fulani attended the court case and was so “outraged” she set up Sistah Space for women of African heritage. Since 2014 they have helped hundreds of women, and by April 1 they expect to be “inundated” when they will take referrals from Victim Support.
Now Ngozi has set up a petition calling on the Home Office for “Valerie’s Law” to make discrimination awareness training compulsory in domestic violence organisations.
“There’s a lot of serious injury and murders in Hackney, but we looked at the statistics and there is a definite problem with African heritage women being able to report abuse to the mainstream agencies,” said Ngozi. “Valerie was from the Rastafarian community and it took so much for her to go to the police, and they failed her on such a massive level.
“Without this essential knowledge and training, it is practically impossible to cater for, or risk assess, black women, which puts them at even greater risks.”
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This can boil down to things as simple as language differences.
“It can be a word like ‘watch’,” said Ngozi. “Depending on the tone and animation you use it can be a death threat – but that’s one small example. There are loads.”
The event at the weekend was “really positive” but also “really sad”.
“Valerie went to the police,” said Ngozi, “but they put it down as a threat to property, and the aftermath for the children has been terrible.
“Her remaining children and her mother have to negotiate life without her now.
“She was a community giant. She made greetings cards. She loved the colour purple and the colour green. She was somebody. We want to remember her legacy.”
View the petition online at chng.it/LX6jGJPnZ6.