Who is she?
She is the girl in your neighborhood, at your masjid, or college. She is the girl who doesn’t have a voice across the world. Who accepts what life has given her. She is the child that was never given a choice. She is the quiet one whose eyes tell a story. Who’s plight is undermined by industries that sell women. She is the writer who converts her sorrows to poetry. Who speaks volumes without speaking. Speak up, for her.
Today is February 14th 2015. Valentines day: a day to celebrate love. Love is defined as a special, sacred bond of deep affection shared between individuals. However, many within our communities are not celebrating love. Many are entrapped in a difficult cycle: the cycle of abuse. It does not discriminate. Men, women, and children are all affected and violence is not fifty shades of grey.
If you have not already heard from Kim K’s tweet, this year a racy film will also be released just in time for the occasion. The book and film itself are shocking to those who have experienced abusive relationships, as the film romanticizes abuse.
But, this post is not about Fifty Shades of Grey-the book or movie.
Rather, we hope to use the fame and platform that both the book and film will generate to shine light a problem within our communities.
Why are we taking the time to talk about this issue?
Research has shown that 1 in 4 women from around the world will be a victim of violent abuse in her lifetime. Within our communities, especially our Muslims communities, abuse can be a taboo topic. The environment created around even mentioning the topic of domestic violence is met by harsh glances, stares, and forced apathy. It is not our business to pry into the private life of others-this much is true, but if we cannot be receptive to those who are in need of help, then we have failed one another. Many of us live in a confusing culture; on one spectrum the issue is hushed over and on the other in a society that promotes movies like Fifty Shades. Enough said.
A recent study of 57 closed-case files from an American Muslim women’s shelter revealed that 37% had experienced multiple types of abuse, 23% experienced physical abuse, and 12% experienced emotional abuse.1
In a study of 190 Muslims seeking mental health counseling in Northern Virginia, 41% experienced domestic violence in the form of verbal, emotional, physical, and sexual abuse. Victims were 71% adult females, 12% adult males, and 16% children. 60% of all clients experienced verbal or psychological abuse in their lifetime, 50% physical abuse, 14% sexual abuse, and 3% reported having a relative killed.2
So, what can we do?
We are not counselors or therapists. Not wanting to make familial situations worse, sometimes it feels as if there is nothing we can do to help…however that is not that case. There is always hope!
Here at Handbags and Hijabs we’re going to be running a series of posts under the tag #ViolenceIsntFiftyShadesOfGrey. We will be doing research within our communities to learn about programs that exist to help those in unfortunate situations.
A few key points to keep in mind are:
- Be aware. Be open and more importantly able to listen. Once we open ourselves up to be supportive to individuals undergoing situations of domestic abuse, Those in need will only be wiling to speak up if they know that someone is willing to listen.
- Speak Out. Dialogue. Talk. You shouldnot advise someone if you do not have the proper training or experience. But, you can speak up about your stance, and speak out against violence. It is important to realize that many victims feel guilty for the situations they are in. When we express our views against violence, we are emphasizing to those who reach out that they should not feel bad in doing so.
- Reach out to your community. Talk to our local communities. Ensure there are programs for women, men and child where they can go for support. You do not have create them, many times programs are out there, but taking the time to find them, find out what they’re about, and support them!
Our research will be bringing you organizations and support centers that are actively working to help in this cause. Insha’Allah with each post we will highlight the work and efforts of these organizations to further strengthen their efforts, promote awareness and ultimately help save lives.
The first group who’s initiatives we would like to highlight is the Thakaat Foundation. Thakaat Foundation is not your ordinary volunteer group. Thakaat is innovative and constantly tackling real-hard-issues yet are determined to find silver linings. At Thakaat the issue of domestic violence is headed by executive director Uzma Banwany. Uzma’s energy and support really helped move this project forward. Thakaat has two campaigns to promote awareness, the first of which is known as their Break The Silence campaign. Break The Silence is their year round project. This project aims to shed light on the increasing instances of violence against women in order to create a world where women and girls are safe from violence. This initiative is not just a local effort but has hopes that raising awareness at home can honor the plight of women worldwide. Proceeds from the Break The Silence campaign assist women in Ghana, Pakistan and Sierra Leone.
Thakaat also does a L.O.V.E campaign every February. L.O.V.E or Love Over Violence Everywhere encourages others to SPEAK UP to for their raise awareness. The love campaign allows you to send a Valentine’s day card with to someone you love with a donation made in their name. You can unite with Thakaat in SPEAKING UP by contributing a donation on the L.O.V.E. Campaign webpage, www.tinyurl.com/lovethywoman.
This initiative was inspired by a sister who reached out to me, we hope you find this insightful and join us on this journey. Speak up, for her.
- Abdullah, Keilani. “A peaceful ideal, violent realities: A study on Muslim female domestic violence survivors.” In: Maha B. Alkhateeb and Salma Elkadi Abugideiri (Eds.) Change from within: Diverse perspectives on domestic violence in Muslim communities. Great Falls, VA: Peaceful Families Project, 2007. 69-89.
- Abugideiri, Salma Elkadi. “Domestic violence among Muslims seeking mental health counseling.” Change from within: Diverse perspectives on domestic violence in Muslim communities. Eds. Maha B. Alkhateeb and Salma Elkadi Abugideiri. Great Falls, VA: Peaceful Families Project, 2007. 91-115.