Our Voice: New Campaign asking Muslim Men and Women to Speak Out Against Domestic Violence
Whilst Me+You=4eva has taken more of a back seat this term as other projects come to the fore, Unique Voice is always pleased to hear of developments when it comes to the tackling of Domestic violence and abuse, which is why for her latest blog, Sarah has chosen to write about a new campaign asking Muslim men and women to speak out against domestic violence.
Domestic violence has perhaps never been the easiest of subjects to talk about. With so many people still seeing it as a private issue rather than a public one, progress in tackling it can sometimes seem slow. Of course issues such as this can be even harder to challenge when we take into consideration the potentially sensitive issue it becomes in certain cultures and religions. Regardless of my own personal opinions I cannot ignore the things I have come across in my own research into the subject. The charity Amina runs a helpline for Muslim women in Scotland and has revealed that violence against women is the subject behind the majority of its calls, often following years and years of abuse.
Many people I have spoken to seem unsure as to exactly what Islamic teachings say regarding relationships between men and women. A harrowing documentary about female genital mutilation that I watched last year showed a man claiming that he would force open his new wife (a victim of FGM) after their wedding day because it was ‘his right’, that it ‘said so in the Qur’an’. When questioned by the obviously frustrated nurse where this was stated, the man couldn’t answer and only continued to insist that it was written.
It seems devastating to me that anyone would use their religion to justify violence against anyone else, be they male or female. Indeed it seemed that the man was more concerned about what other people would think of him if he didn’t sleep with his wife after their wedding than her wellbeing. This is something which has unignorable parallels to Status, our mature sequel to Me+You=4eva which shows Jessica falling at the hands of TJ, who attempts to pressure her into sex in order to boost his own social standing after encouragement and pressures from his peers.
It has been suggested by people who are working on the campaign that many Muslim women seem relatively uneducated, excusing violence from their husbands claiming that it’s ok because their religion says he can act in that way.
The truth in fact, is that nowhere in Islamic teachings does it state that violence against women is allowed. As part of this new campaign, people in Scotland are being encouraged to report any domestic violence they have seen or experienced. Muslim women’s charity Amina are using Islamic teachings to challenge this damaging misconception; certain Hadiths (the stories of the words and deeds of the Prophet Muhammad, handed down by word of mouth) – for example when the Prophet, peace be upon him, says: ‘The best among you is the one who is the best towards his wife’.
Mridul Wadhwa, information and education officer at Shakti Women’s Aid, which offers support to ethnic minority women experiencing domestic abuse said about the issue; “There is a need for an open and honest discussion about it; we cannot use arguments of faith and culture or men’s ‘rights’ as an excuse any more,”
Crucially, both men and women need to be engaging in these discussions; for any relationship to change for the better both parties need to be educated and rehabilitated before anyone can really move forward. This is why during our Me+You=4eva visits we focus on not only the controlled character, but also the person doing the controlling. Only by everyone acknowledging both sides of the story can we really begin to tackle and fight domestic violence as an issue.
If you would like to find out more information about our Me+You programme, simply Contact Us and we will happily answer any questions you may have.
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