Online Event
Thursday 9th December 2021
4pm - 6pm
Free, Registration Required

Join Savera UK and Zonta Club London for an online panel discussion tackling the harmful ways that culture is wrongly conflated with human rights abuses against women and girls.

The event Culture is Beautiful: No Excuse for Abuse will discuss how cultures and cultural beliefs including religion are used as an excuse for male violence against women/girls and harmful practices, the misinformation that perpetuates this belief and how such harmful practices are in fact a violation of human rights that need to be tackled.

Savera UK CEO and founder, Afrah Qassim and Britt Gustawsson of Zonta International will be joined by a panel including Mansi Mehta, Deputy Director, Global Cause Partnerships from UNICEF USA, Dr Elham Manea from Zurich University, a political scientist specialised on the Arab Middle East, Nazir Afzal OBE, former Chief Prosecutor for the North West (UK) and Savera UK patron, and Dr Leyla Hussein OBE, a psychotherapist, specialising in supporting survivors of sexual abuse.

The event will also share the voices of survivors and there will be an open Q&A session where attendees can put their questions to the panellists.

Meet the Speakers


Mansi Mehta, Deputy Director of Global Cause Partnerships at UNICEF USA

Mansi is the Deputy Director of Global Cause Partnerships at UNICEF USA, she is a partnership development and public health professional. In her current role she works to build partnerships with organisations whose mission and vision align with that of UNICEF and UNICEF USA. One of these organisations is Zonta International who since 2014 is supporting the UNFPA-UNICEF Global Program to End Child Marriage. Previously, Mansi worked at the Earth Institute of Columbia University on various health and education related programs with a focus on empowering girls in sub-Saharan Africa through information, communication and technology. She has her Masters in Public Health and her undergraduate degrees are in Biology and Policy Studies


Dr. Elham Manea, Associate Professor at the Political Science Institute, University of Zurich

PD Dr. Elham Manea is a Privatdozentin (equivalent to Associate Professor) at the Political Science Institute, University of Zurich, a writer and human rights advocate. Her research focuses on countries of the Arabian Peninsula, especially Yemen, Gender and Women under Muslim Laws; and Islamism. In 2010 she was appointed by the Swiss Federal Council as a Member of the Federal Commission for Women Affairs and in 2020 at the Federal Commission for Migration, where she serves as a vice president. She has published academic and non-fiction books in English, German, and Arabic in addition to two novels in Arabic.


Dr. Leyla Hussein OBE, Psychotherapist and International Lecturer on FGM

Dr Leyla Hussein OBE is a Psychotherapist, specialising in supporting survivors of sexual abuse. She is an international lecturer on female genital mutilation (FGM) and speaker on gender rights. She is recognised as one of the key experts on this issue globally and is a leading and award-winning international campaigner against all forms of violence against women and girls. Leyla founded The Dahlia Project, the UK’s first specialist therapeutic service for FGM survivors. In 2020, she was elected as Rector of the University of St Andrews for a three-year term, making history as the first Black woman to hold the position. She currently works as the Global Advocacy Director and Deputy Team Leader for the Africa-led Movement to End FGM.


Nazir Afzal OBE, Savera UK Patron and Former Chief Prosecutor for North West England

Nazir Afzal OBE is the Patron of Savera UK and the Former Chief Prosecutor for North West England. He is an expert in de-radicalisation and a senior British lawyer who campaigns on issues around child sexual exploitation and violence against women. He is also the author of The Prosecutor, a “searing insight into the justice system and a powerful story of one man’s pursuit of the truth”.


Afrah Qassim, CEO and Founder of Savera UK

Afrah is the Founder and CEO of Savera UK, a leading national organisation tackling the causes and effects of harmful practices including ‘honour’-based abuse, female genital mutilation and forced/child marriage. Afrah is also the Chair of Liverpool Arab Arts Festival (LAAF).           


Britt Gustawsson, Treasurer of Zonta Club London

Britt Gustawsson is a long-standing member of Zonta International, presently Treasurer of the Zonta Club London and member of the Zonta International Nominating Committee. She is active in the UK CSW Alliance, which organizes civil society in the UK before and during the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). She has had a long career in senior management in privately owned multinational companies both in Sweden and the UK, and has worked globally in risk management, compliance and dispute resolution in multiple jurisdictions.

Savera UK aims to make events as accessible as possible. If you require reasonable adjustments to access this online event, then please contact us one week before the event so that actions can be taken to support you. 


registrations are not available

There are currently no entry options available for this event.