On one occasion Alma was allocated a male interpreter.
“I did not want to speak to him about my private life, because of my experience I find it difficult to speak to men…
he then said to me what’s the difference if it’s a man or a woman… he just didn’t understand.”
It was not appropriate for Alma to be allocated a male interpreter; because of her previous experience of gender-based violence, Alma did not feel safe.
At Hibiscus, Alma’s needs were prioritised by using cultural mediation techniques, with a survivor-centred approach.
Hibiscus defines cultural mediation as bridging the gap between differences and understanding. This requires understanding survivors’ lived experiences by knowing and respecting their culture. It is about survivors being supported to use their voice and build their agency, which empowers them to re-establish power over their lives.
Women who have suffered GBV face tremendous physical, emotional and social consequences. Through cultural mediation, Hibiscus created a safe space, listened to the woman’s needs, applied a non-judgemental lens and built trust. Through this, Hibiscus ensured women like Alma would not be faced with a situation where she felt misunderstood.
Alma: “Previously I was missing this kind of support. But Hibiscus helped me become a stronger and more confident woman.”
The holistic approach of cultural meditation could be used by statutory and non-statutory bodies working with migrant women, specifically those who have suffered trauma and GBV.
Cultural mediation has been used in other European countries within different services, such as health care, education, public services, rehabilitation centres, and at immigration offices.
To support the wider implementation of cultural mediation within the UK, Hibiscus is working towards the development of a training package and toolkit. This will not only help survivors but allow statutory and non-statutory bodies to better understand their needs and be better equipped to support survivors.
For more information on the Cultural Mediation research, funded by the Bell Foundation, please get in touch with Hibiscus’ Project Worker firstname.lastname@example.org.