DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND RELIGION

January 16, 2020 at 4:30 am

Are Muslim survivors of abuse being silenced by their own communities when they try to seek help? HuffPost reporter Rowaida Abdelaziz shares the results of her shocking investigation.

National Domestic Violence Hotline
1-800-799-7233

For more information on Turning Point for Women and Families, click here.

Aired on January 15, 2020. 

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>>> GOOD EVENING.
WELCOME TO "METROFOCUS."
THE STATISTICS ARE ASTOUNDING.
HERE IN THE UNITED STATES, ONE
IN FOUR WOMEN ARE SURVIVORS OF
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ACCORDING TO
THE NATIONAL COALITION AGAINST
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE.
AND AN EVEN MORE STARTLING FACT,
ACCORDING TO UNITED NATIONS
ACROSS THE GLOBE, 137 WOMEN WERE
KILLED EVERY DAY BY AN INTIMATE
PARTNER OR RELATIVE IN 2017.
NOW A RECENT INVESTIGATION HAS
DISCOVERED WITHIN THE MUSLIM
COMMUNITY, WOMEN WHO TRY TO SEEK
HELP ARE OFTEN SILENCED BY THEIR
OWN NEIGHBORS OR FACE ISLAM
PHOBIC STEREO TIMES.
HERE'S A DETAILED INVESTIGATION
IN THE ARTICLE.
SHE JOINS ME NOW.
WELCOME TO THE PROGRAM.
>> THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME.
>> THIS IS A VERY DIFFICULT
TOPIC TO DISCUSS.
HOW DID YOU COME TO THIS?
>> ABSOLUTELY.
PART OF MY JOB AT THE
"HUFFINGTON POST" IS HATE
CRIMES.
ONE OF THE TRENDS THAT I SAW, IT
WAS OFTEN MUSLIM WOMEN AT THE
FOREFRONT OF THIS ABUSE AND
MUSLIM WOMEN WHO HAPPEN TO WEAR
THE HIJAB OR THE HEAD SCARF TEND
TO BE TARGETS.
PEOPLE NOT KNOWING FAITH
MARKERS.
WHEN I TRIED DIGGING DEEP ENTIRE
THE OBSTACLES THAT WOMEN IN
PARTICULAR FACE IN THIS
COMMUNITY, I STARTED TALKING TO
SURVIVORS OF GENDER-BASED
VIOLENCE AND IT OPENED A WHOLE
NEW CAN OF WORMS FOR ME.
>> THERE WAS A SPECIFIC WOMAN
WHOSE STORY YOU WERE ABLE TO
TELL AND I BELIEVE THAT WAS A
CATALYST TO GO EVEN FURTHER INTO
THIS ISSUE.
>> YEAH.
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ACROSS THE
PLATFORM IS A TABOO NO MATTER
WHERE YOU COME FROM.
I SPOKE TO DOZENS OF WOMEN AND
ALL OF THEM REQUESTED THAT THEY
TALK TO ME ANONYMOUSLY.
WHEN I SPOKE TO NOR, A YOUNG
WOMAN BASED IN THE BAY AREA, WHO
WAS THE INCREDIBLE STRONG WOMAN
WHO DETAILED TO ME A TRAGIC AND
AWFUL INCIDENT WHERE SHE SAW HER
FATHER MURDER HER MOTHER, NOT
THAT LONG AGO.
A CAN YOU PLEASE YEARS AGO AND
IT HAS INSPIRED HER TO GO INTO
THIS WORK AND NOW AN ADVOCATE.
SHE WAS ONE OF A VERY FEW WEAPON
WILL ON.
IN THIS INSTANCE, IT WAS ON THE
RECORD.
THE ONLY WOMAN WHO AGREED TO DO
SO.
>> SO THIS IS ONE OF THE THINGS
FOR PEOPLE WHO AREN'T MEMBERS OF
THE MUSLIM COMMUNITY MIGHT NOT
FULLY UNDERSTAND.
WHAT IS THE, I DON'T WANT TO SAY
THE DISCONNECT BUT PERHAPS THE
CHALLENGE OR THE HURDLES THAT
PEOPLE MIGHT FACE ABOUT COMING
FORWARD AND GOING TO THE
AUTHORITIES, QUHAS MOST WOULD
SAY THAT'S WHAT YOU DO.
>> I THINK WHEN I WAS
INVESTIGATING, THERE WERE A LOT
OF SIMILAR CHALLENGES THAT
MUSLIM WOMEN FACE THAT ANY OTHER
WOMAN WITH A RACIAL BACKGROUND
FACE.
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE DOESN'T
DISCRIMINATE.
IT IS AN ISSUE THAT PLAGUES
ALLER COMMUNITIES, FAITH-BASED,
GENDER, RACE, ET CETERA.
BUT MUSLIM WOMEN FACE CHALLENGES
WHEN THEY WERE SEEKING HELP.
OFTENTIMES THEY'RE FIGHTING
THROUGH A CULTURAL STIGMA WITHIN
THEIR OWN COMMUNITY.
AND OUTSIDE OF THE COMMUNITY,
THEY WERE TELLING ME THEY
CONTENDED WITH ISLAM PHOBIA.
SO THERE IS A TUMULTUOUS
RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE POLICE
AND THE MUSLIM COMMUNITY WHEN
YOU'RE TALKING WITH INFORMANTS
AND SPYING.
IN NEW YORK, THAT WAS AN ISSUE.
OR WOMEN WHO WENT TO MAIN STREAM
AGENCIES AND PEOPLE SAYING, IF
YOU'RE A MUSLIM, ISN'T IT NORMAL
FOR MEN TO BE VIOLENT AND WOMEN
TO BE OPPRESSED?
WHICH IS AN AWFUL AND FAR FROM
THE TRUTH TYPE OF STEREO TYPE
THAT MUSLIM WOMEN ARE CONTENDING
WITH.
>> YOU WERE SAYING THERE MIGHT
BE A STIGMA WITHIN THE
COMMUNITY.
THAT THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO MIGHT
SAY THAT, THERE MIGHT BE A
BETTER WAY TO HANDLE THE
SITUATION.
>> OF COURSE.
AND SHAME AND FEAR ARE POWERFUL
SILENCERS.
AND WE SEE THIS IN THE MUSLIM
COMMUNITY.
THERE IS STILL A STIGMA WHEN IT
COMES TO WOMEN LEAVING THEIR
ABUSERS, AN EMPHASIS ON TRYING
TO FIX THE COHESION, THE FAMILY
LIFE.
WHAT WAS SO INTERESTING ABOUT
THE MUSLIM COMMUNITY IN
PARTICULAR, HOW OFTEN THEY
SOUGHT OUT RELIGIOUS LEADERS AND
LOCAL CLERGY FOR HELP.
THIS IS SOMETHING UNIQUE TO THE
MUSLIM COMMUNITY.
AFTER TALKING TO FAMILY MEMBERS,
THEY WERE TALKING TO THEIR LOCAL
IMANS AND SAID, HEY, I HAVE A
PROBLEM.
AND THESE RELIGIOUS LEADERS SAY,
THEY KNOW SCRIPTURE, THEOLOGY,
THEY CAN TELL YOU HOW TO PRAY.
BUT A LOT OF THEN DIDN'T KNOW
HOW TO EDUCATE THEN.
>> IS THIS ABOUT EDUCATING
AGENCIES THAT ARE SUPPOSED TO
PROVIDE HELP AND ASSISTANCE TO
SURVIVORS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE?
IS THIS AN ISSUE OF BETTER
EDUCATING RELIGIOUS LEADERS AND
HOW BETTER TO HELP WOMEN
NAVIGATE THESE ISSUES?
>> EDUCATION IS AT THE TOP.
YOU HAVE ADVOCATES AND FOLKS WHO
WORK FOR SHELTERS AND AGENCIES
SAYING, COME GET TRAINED.
PARTNER WITH US UNTIL WE KNOW
HOW TO TACKLE THIS.
THERE ARE AGENCIES BUILT IN THE
U.S., PREDOMINANTLY AND SOLELY
FOCUS ON SURVIVORS.
I TALKED TO A HAND.
IN THE BAY AREA, TEXAS,
BALTIMORE, ONE PARTICULAR WOMAN
IN BALTIMORE WHO FOUND AD HOUSE
STRICTLY FOR MUSLIMS.
OFTENTIMES HER CLIENTS WITH SAY,
WHEN I WENT TO A MAIN STREAM
AGENCY, A COOK WOULD PUT PORK IN
MY MEAL.
THERE WEREN'T PLACES TO PRAY OR
HAVE ARE KOSHER OPTIONS.
SO IT HIGHLIGHTS A SECOND
PROBLEM WHERE AGENCIES NEED TO
BE BETTER EQUIPPED IN
UNDERSTANDING THE DIFFERENT
NEEDS.
AND I THINK THIRDLY, NOT FALLING
INTO THE STEREO TYPES.
OFTENTIMES, MUSLIM WOMEN ARE
AFRAID TO COME OUT.
THEY SAY HEY, NEGATIVE ATTENTION
ON US IS SO BAD.
ISLAM PHOBIA IS SO BAD.
WE DON'T NEED TOER PUT OUT OUR
DIRTY LAUNDRY SO WE NEED TO
CREATE A SPACE WHERE WE SAY, WE
RECOGNIZE YOU AS A WOMAN, A
SURVIVOR.
WE DON'T CARE WHAT YOUR
BACKGROUND IS WEST WANT TO HELP
YOU.
>> WHAT IS THE REACTION TO THE
WORK YOU'VE DONE SO FAR?
FROM WHAT YOU'VE GOTTEN WITHIN
THE MUSLIM COMMUNITY, I WONDER
IF THERE ARE ANY BACK LASHES
FROM, YOU'RE SORT OF PUBLICLY
AIRING DIRTY LAUNDRY.
>> I WAS TRYING TO STRIKE THE
RIGHT BALANCE OF SHEDDING LIGHT
ON A PROBLEM BUT NOT WANTING TO
FEED INTO THE STEREO TYPES.
AS A RT REPORTER I WAS THINKING
OF THOSE WITH MALICIOUS AGENDAS.
HEY, THIS IS WHY WE SAY MUSLIMS
ARE SO BAD OR THEY USES IT AS A
TOOL TO PERPETUATE BIGOTED
POLICIES.
I THINK WHAT HELPED ME BE
REASSURED, THE RESPONSE WAS
MOSTLY POSITIVE.
I HAD OTHER WOMEN SAY, YOU KNOW,
I'VE BEEN CONTEMPLATING LEAVING
THIS RELATIONSHIP.
THEY REALIZE THEY NEED TO GO OUT
AND SEEK PROFESSIONAL TRAINING.
THE PROBLEM IS FINDING THE
RESOURCES AND CREATING THAT
SPACE MORE PEOPLE ARE REALIZING
THERE IS A LOT OF WORK TO BE
DONE.
>> I WOULD BE REMISS TO SAY
THERE AREN'T WILL SERVICES OUT
THERE.
>> THERE ARE ORGANIZATIONS BASED
HERE IN NEW YORK, A TURNING
POINT IS ONE THAT SPECIFICALLY
CATERS TO SOME WOMEN.
THERE ARE PLENTY OUT IN ALL THE
DIFFERENT STATES THAT KATER TO
DIFFERENT WOMEN AND BACK GROUNDS
AND OF COURSE THE MAIN STREAM
COALITION AND THE MAIN STREAM
ORGANIZATIONS THAT ARE DOING
THIS WORK EVERY SINGLE DAY
WITHOUT GETTING THE NATIONAL
ATTENTION THAT THEY SHOULD BE
GETTING.
>> THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS
STORY.
>> THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME.
>> ABSOLUTELY.
IF YOU OR SOMEONE SUNG A VICTIM
OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, YOU CAN
CALL THE NATIONAL DOMESTIC
VIOLENCE HOTLINE AT
1-800-799-7333.
AND YOU CAN VISIT OUR WEBSITE AT

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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