Friday, March 4, 2016

Free training to help you identify and prevent honor violence

I live at the intersection of the pro-life and atheist worlds, which often gives me access to information that a good chunk of my contacts would not ordinarily come across. In this case, allow me to introduce Christian pregnancy care center workers and volunteers to outspoken atheist Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and her organization, the AHA Foundation.

The AHA Foundation works to prevent female genital mutilation, forced marriages, and honor-based violence around the world. The foundation recently released an online training module that teaches people how to identify red flags for honor violence and how to respond without making the situation more volatile. The training is completely free. The target audience is "those professionals who are most likely to encounter cases of honor violence," including law enforcement, social workers, and teachers.

I would add pregnancy center workers to that list. If a teenager is trying to hide her pregnancy from her parents, is she simply embarrassed or dreading a disappointed reaction? Or does unwed pregnancy "dishonor" her family and put her at risk for abuse or murder? In the former situation, the girl's advocate may naturally want to reassure her that everything will be okay, help her gently break the news to her parents, and get the parents' support. But in the latter situation, that response is dead wrong. As the training puts it: "Girls in danger from honor violence may have only one chance to reach out for help before abuses escalate into murder." Knowing the red flags is crucial.

I took the training myself, even though I'm unlikely to come across victims of honor violence in my day job as a business litigator, because it can't hurt to be educated and prepared. As I said, it's free, and takes less than an hour. I was already familiar with AHA's work but I still learned a few things. (One quick tip: people at risk for honor violence and forced marriage can reach a crisis counselor at any time by texting FREE to 741741.)

Please share this life-saving course far and wide, especially to your friends who are in a position to encounter victims of honor violence on a regular basis.

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