Serving Muslim Survivors of Domestic Violence
By Noor H. Salem
On Thursday, June 6th approximately 100 attendees listened to Aisha Rahman, Executive Director of KARAMAH, as well as Dr. Azizah Y. al-Hibri, Founder and Chair of KARAMAH, speak about domestic violence in the Muslim community. Hosted by both ACCESS and KARAMAH, the goal of the educational forum was to help service providers effectively serve Muslim victims of domestic violence. The forum ran from 9:00am until 12:00pm and was held at Habibâ€™s Cuisine Banquet hall in Dearborn.
It was an interactive session, and the speaker planned for pondering exercises, questions, and responses. She discussed very briefly the basics of Islam so that service providers could have background information about their clients. She mentioned how difficult it is for Muslim women to seek shelters due to Islamophobia and other barriers.
One service provider in the audience shared how one woman she was working with was brought to the US by her husband. Once she arrived here, she found out that he had a girlfriend. The woman did not speak the native language, and it was difficult for her to go back to her family for cultural reasons. She was provided with help and got a job.
Another heart-moving story was one of a woman who was fooled and thought she was legally married. She got married in the UK and came to the US, and her husband did not register their marriage. She struggled in court, and after the judge determined that the marriage was not valid legally, she experienced shame with the birth of her child. After much difficulty and investigation, KARAMAH helped her pass this struggle.
The forum covered cultural barriers that women have to deal with, and also reasons why women stay quiet during abuse. Financial issues are one of the top reasons. Other reasons include shame and fear of not getting married again.
The luncheon was very beneficial, and many service providers look forward to more events and success stories from KARAMAH and ACCESS.