Actress Afshan Azad reveals her secrets to Tower Hamlets students at Female Voice conference
PUBLISHED: 17:06 28 July 2016 | UPDATED: 17:06 28 July 2016
Tower Hamlets College
Girl students tackled some of the issues facing women today when they were shown how to recognise signs of abuse, how to deal with forced marriage and where to get help when faced with violence.
They got involved in talks, workshops and activities at the second annual Female Voice conference held at London’s Excel Arena.
The conference aimed to help them build the confidence to feel equal in today’s society.
Advice on abuse and facing danger was given to the students from Tower Hamlets College in a session run by the Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation.
Guest speaker at the conference was film actress Afshan Azad, who played Padma Patil in the Harry Potter movies, revealing details of her troubled family past and the challenges she has faced on her journey to where she is today.
Afshan was attacked by family members in 2010, when she was 22, because of a relationship with a non-Muslim. The family threatened to take her to Bangladesh and force her into an arranged marriage—her brother was later sentenced to six months for assault.
“Afshan gave an inspirational talk about her life’s challenges which was highly relevant today,” Tower Hamlets college’s curriculum manager Susan Woodall said. “It was good to see our students think about some of the issues prevalent in women’s lives and how they affect them.”
Afshan met the students at the conference individually to learn about their own backgrounds and even posed with them for selfies.
Those studying BTEC Health and Social Care said they found the topics useful.
Kate Ohene, 19, from Hackney, confided: “The conference was a real eye-opener about issues affecting women today, which we never really think about or pay attention to. It was valuable to be made aware of them.”
There were also lessons in self-defence, how to avoid troublesome situations and how to deal with attacks safely if needed.
A session was also held on how to cope with stress. One workshop gave hints on life after college, preparing the students for the big wide world.