Tackling domestic violence requires “shift in thinking”Written by Idil Abdulkadir
A local organization is looking for champions from the Muslim community to lead the fight against domestic violence.
Following the successful launch of their educational campaign against domestic abuse, organizers of the Neighbours, Friends and Family Muslim Project, are seeking 30 “champions” who will get the community actively involved in combating violence against women.
The launch event ”“ held on Nov. 24 to coincide with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women ”“ was attended by over a hundred people. Organisers say the event underscored the need for a community response for violence against women.
Many of those who spoke at the launch said they felt that domestic abuse continues to be a taboo topic within the Muslim community and that only through dialogue and discussion can this issue come from behind the veil of silence and into the light of community discourse.
Despite the support of many in the Muslim community, some people see the project as a criticism of the Muslim community. They feel that having a “violence against women” awareness project focused on the Muslim community is an indictment of the community; that having the campaign supports the stereotypical notion that domestic violence is prevalent within the Muslim community.
"That is far from the truth" explains Shawana Shah, one the coordinators of the NFF Muslim project. “The project is an acknowledgement of the need for resources and education campaigns that are appropriate and relevant to the Muslim community.”
Many awareness campaigns equate cultural appropriateness to translating their resources into different languages without a cultural analysis of the content.
“This campaign is different in that we are taking Islamic and cultural values and incorporating them into the campaign. We are gearing the information and making it relevant to the Muslim community,” says Ms. Shah.
In its introduction of this campaign to the Latin American community, the Francophone community, and the Aboriginal community, NFF ensured that members from within each community were hired to ensure the relevance and the culture appropriateness of its material.
Similarly, the Muslim campaign has an advisory committee made-up of the members from the community who help guide the work of its two Muslim coordinators.
“But an education campaign is only as effective as the level of community engagement it achieves,” says Lula Adam, the co-coordinator of the campaign.
She continues to explain that the NFF Muslim project is engaging the community by recruiting community members as champions. These champions will be trained to give presentations to the community at large about violence against women, warning signs, and resources where people can get help.
"If we engage the community than we've accomplished our purpose of engaging the neighbours, friends and family of the at-risk women. This will ensure that the families get the support and help they need at this difficult time. This will hopefully avoid the violence escalating to a tragedy," Ms Adam adds.
The only way women abuse will be eliminated from our community is through a community-wide shift in thinking. And the only way there is a shift in thinking is through awareness and education. The community at large needs to be involved in the awareness raising and education so that we can ensure healthy and happy families which translates into healthy and happy communities.
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