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muslim youth magazine

FIFTEEN21

ISSUE 26 JAN 2016

FORCED MARRIAGE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE HONOUR BASED VIOLENCE FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION


FIFTEEN21 EDITORIA

Editor Fozia Parveen Designed by Hafizur Rahman

Guest Editorial: Khaula Bhutta

Contact Fifteen21 fozia@fifteen21.com www.fifteen21.com facebook.comfifteen21magazine All views are of the authors alone and not necessarily of those held by Fifteen21

muslim youth magazine

Stain-glass by artist Huda Awad Fifteen21 inspires young Muslims to be proud of their British Muslim identity. The name Fifteen21 is derived from both the 15th century of the Islamic Hijri year and the 21st century of the Common era. Fifteen21 aims to reconcile both Muslim and British identity.

www.hudaawad.com


AL Dear Readers Asalamu alaykum! Islam has honored women by elevating their status and protecting them with unprecedented rights. The right to work, to gain an education, choose whom to marry or not to marry, or to divorce and the list goes on. Women were created and put on this earth as a sign of Gods infinite Mercy. ‘And among his signs is this; that he created mates for you from yourselves that you may find rest, peace of mind in them, and he ordained between you love and mercy. Lo, herein indeed are signs for people who reflect’ (Qur’an Chapter 30 Verse 21). Sadly, despite all the protection and rights afforded to both men and women in the Qur’an, centuries of nonIslamic cultural practices have plagued us and still exist to this day. Raising awareness, providing a platform for discussion and supporting grass root organizations, is the first step that we can take to ensure that such atrocities stop. This edition explores issues such as female genital mutilation, forced marriage, honor based violence and domestic abuse. We provide accounts from survivors and

information about organizations that are working tirelessly everyday to support victims of abuse. Change is possible but only through education and awareness. We must support activists and organizations that are highlighting these issues that are often considered a ‘taboo’. I have conducted research on FGM in Ireland where I have talked to victims of FGM and informed them about the new legislation that criminalizes this practice. I wanted to know if the legislation made any difference to personal attitudes and beliefs. I discovered through my study that deep-rooted attitudes cannot be simply eradicated by the introduction of a law. Change in behavior is only made possible if it’s internalized and owned by the community. There are laws in the UK that protect women from the abuses that we discuss in this issue. However, legislation is useless if women do not know of their rights. Awareness can only be reached by communication and this moral campaigning needs to start from us as members of the wider community. We hope that you benefit from this issue of Fifteen21 and that you share it with friends and family to raise awareness.


ISSUE 25 CONTENTS 6-7 8 9 10 11 12-15 16-17 18-19 20-23 24-27 28 29 30-33 34-37 38-41 42-45 46-47 48-49 50-51 52 53 54-56 57 58-65

Prophets of Islam: Yunus (AS) 100 Less One: Al Fattah Muslim Youth Helpline Help! I’m A Teenager! Child Line Hibo Wardere - I was Mutilated Stories from FGM Survivors Tour Roshni - My Voice NSPCC - Female Genital Mutilation Calais There & Back Again Hadith - How Much Is Enough? I Stand Against FGM University ISOC Reflections The Birth of an Empire Khadija - My Forced Marriage Honour? Shafilea Ahmed Honour Based Violence Staying Emotionally Healthy 99 Names Art Exhibition Dua Taking Refuge Fifteen21 Magazine Nisa Nashim No Honour in Violence University ISOC Reflections

66-69 70-73 74-77 78-79 80-81 82 83 84-85 86 87 88-91 92-99 100-101 102-107 108-111 112-113 114-117 118-119 120-121 122-123 124 125

Nour Domestic Violence How Hidden is Domestic Violence? Osma Irshad - I Survived Male Victims of Domestic Violence Controlling Partners who Abuse Nominate a Role Model In the Next Issue… Faith in Art Exhibition Food for the Soul Muslim Youth Helpline The Goharshad Imam Reza Mosque University ISOC Reflections Stories of Sacrifice Exhibition Interview: Faeeza Vaid MWNUK Marrying a Stranger Your Right to Choose Forced Marriage Unit Diary Karma Nirvana Schools Project Poetry: Death of my Tears Recipes - Hot Salmon Salad National Events Child Line


The exegetes say that Allah (SWT) sent Yunus (AS) to the people of Nineveh in the land of Mosul (Iraq). Like all other Prophets, he called them to the way of Allah (SWT), but they rejected his call and disbelieved him. When a long time had passed by, he fled from among them and threatened them of a Divine punishment within the next three days.

lots with all the travellers’ names. The one whose name was drawn would be thrown into the sea, so that they could lighten their load.

When they drew the lots, Yunus’s (AS) name appeared, but they did not want to throw him as they knew of his piety. So they repeated the draw, and his name appeared again. It was the decree of It is said that when Yunus (AS) fled from Allah (SWT) to have him thrown into the them, his people became sure that the sea. As he was thrown into the sea, Allah punishment was imminent so they repented (SWT) sent a huge whale that swallowed from their sins. They started beseeching Yunus (AS). The whale was not allowed to Allah (SWT) for His Mercy and Forgiveness. eat his flesh or crack his bones as this was Everyone cried – it was a momentous and the command of Allah (SWT). As the whale moving time for them all. Allah (SWT) went around the depth of the sea, Yunus accepted their forgiveness and saved them heard the glorifying acts of the whale for from the punishment of this life. Allah (SWT) therein, and even heard the pebbles glorifying Allah (SWT). Yunus (AS) When Yunus (AS) left his people in rage, he started his own glorification of Allah (SWT), boarded a ship. After the ship had sailed as the Qur’an has described it: some distance, it started to jerk and sway upon the big waves. Now the crew and “And remember Dhun-Nun (Yunus) when he passengers consulted each other on what went off in anger, and imagined that We they should do next. They all agreed to cast shall not punish him, then he called out in

Yunus (AS) and the whale in the Jami’ al-tawarikh c. 1400, Metropolitan Museum of Art

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the darkness: ‘There is no God (worthy of worship) but you. Glory be to you! I was indeed wrong.’ So we responded to his call and rescued him from distress, thus do we rescue the believers.” (Qur’an Chapter 21 Verses 87-88). Yunus (AS) was not only in the darkness of the inside of a whale but also in the darkness of the sea and the night. It was darkness upon darkness and it was only Allah (SWT) that could bring light to such darkness. Allah (SWT) says:

Prophets were tested, so why do we think that we shall have an easy life? Indeed we will be tested too and we should pray that Allah (SWT) allows us to face our tests in the footsteps of Yunus (AS), who humbled himself to his Lord and called upon Allah (SWT) from the depths of darkness. And it was through the glorification of Allah (SWT) that the darkness was replaced with light as Allah (SWT) is Indeed Oft Forgiving, Most Merciful!

AS - alayhi salaam Upon him/her be peace

“Had he not been of those who glorify God, he would certainly have stayed in its belly until the Day of Resurrection.” (Qur’an Chapter 37 Verses 143-144). Moral: The verses of the Qur’an and the Hadith of the Prophet (SAW) show us that Yunus (AS) was indeed saved and rescued by Allah (SWT). Allah (SWT) decided to test Yunus (AS) but indeed he was a noble Prophet and he eventually passed that test. Prophet Yunus (AS) and many other

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SWT - subhanahu wa taala Glorious is He and He is Exalted SAW - sallallahu alayhi wa salaam May God’s blessings and peace be with him

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BIN - in Arabic ‘son of’

Ehsan Khan

Prophets

of Islam

Yunus (AS)

in the Belly of the Whale


Al Fattah

(He Who Opens All Things)

Vanessa Saleh

Allah is al-Fattah. We need to know al-Fattah when we feel that things are impossible or too difficult because Allah (SWT) necessarily invites you to know Him by this Name in those testing circumstances. Al-Fattah comes from the 3-letter root f-t-h ( ‫) ف ت ح‬. Some words are known by their opposites, and the opposite of fath is for something to be closed. Thus fath is to open.

work. A door has to be closed in order for decide between us and our people in someone to open it. truth, and You are the best of those who give decision.” [Qur’an Chapter 7 Verse Allah (SWT) says in the Qur’an: 89) “Whatever mercy Allah opens for mankind, then none can be holding it back; We have to remember that knowing and whatever He holds back, then none Allah is al-Fattah means working hard can be sending it forth after Him; And He to achieve the result that we want. Allah is The Ever-Mighty, The Ever-Wise” (Qur’an (SWT) decides when to open those doors, Chapter 35 Verse 2) and He may delay the solutions to test our sincerity and trust, for something better, so Imam Al-Ghazali tells us about alWhen you are embarking on a new we should never lose hope. Fattah, “He is the One by Whose concern journey, ask Allah (SWT) to open the everything that is closed is opened.” If I doors for you so that you do not encounter tell you to open the door, it must mean that unanticipated difficulties. This could be the door is closed. If it is already open with marriage, a new job, or even the start you would probably give me a funny look. of Ramadan. So what does this mean? Allah al-Fattah opens the things that are closed. Those Finally, al-Fattah also relates to justice. things that seem impossible, those things In the Qur’an, we see that those who are that you cannot understand how they even accused unjustly make this dua: “Our Lord,

SWT – subhanahu wa taala - Glorious is He and He is Exalted

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Help! I’m a Teenager! Domestic Violence

Domestic violence refers to aggressive or threatening behaviour in the home towards a partner or children. This type of abuse can be physical, mental, emotional or even financial. However domestic violence is a tricky scenario; we don’t witness it on the streets, we don’t see it at the checkout in the supermarket, and for certain we can’t even tell if a close member of our family is suffering abuse of this kind. So how can the police, agencies, the government and even we the community tackle this issue? Helplines have been set up and I can’t comment on their success in tackling this issue but I’m allowed to guess and say that in most cases people are reluctant to pick up a phone because of fear of what will happen. They think their husband or boyfriend (though women can be abusive too) will leave, he’ll take the kids, he won’t give them money and so on. Nobody wants to ever hurt their own family even if they’re being hurt by them. The people who are needing help have maybe been told how they’ll be beaten or perhaps killed if they ever try to seek help.

Khurram Azad

So again how can we tackle an issue as delicate as domestic violence? It’s as simple as this and it’s a shame because it’s not something that can just be passed by the government and put into action, we have to start educating ourselves and others around us. Firstly we’re Muslims and we should try as best we can to follow the path of Islam. I ask the abusers, imagine when you’re hitting your partner and our Prophet Muhammed (SAW) was standing right there, would you still do it? No! I think only a coward can abuse people like this, yes we all face problems but how we deal with them determines our fate.

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Life has its ups and downs You can talk confidentially online or by phone whenever you need to. Whatever your worry, it’s better out than in.

www.childline.org.uk ChildLine is a service provided by the NSPCC. Registered charity numbers 216401 and SC037717. 7244/11


Hibo Wardere: ‘The pain was so bad, I prayed to God to take me then and there’ After Hibo Wardere was ‘cut’ aged six, she asked her mother why she had been subjected to such brutality and was always denied a response.

figures emerged - the brutal magnitude quickly became clear.

Studies like this make the work of formidable Hibo Wardere, one of the “There were no words for what anti-FGM campaign’s newer recruits more happened. I remember screaming so hard. vital than ever. A mother of seven, fullScreams like that don’t exist in the world. time teaching assistant and now regular The pain was the worst. You can’t breathe FGM educator of staff and pupils alike, through it. You feel you’re going to drown she is on a mission to educate every any minute.” secondary school student in the country on how to end the barbaric procedure for Wardere was subjected to type three good. FGM where the clitoris and vaginal lips are removed along with vaginal “The youth are our future,” she smiles. “If tissue, and then sewn up. Her waist was we teach young people how to help, and mummified for 12 days, and to this day give them the tools to help themselves, we she still experiences severe pains. can eradicate FGM for the generations to come.” Until last year we had no idea how many girls in Britain had been subjected to Female circumcision or ‘cutting’ of the female genital mutilation. But after official external genitalia is practised in 29

Hibo Wardere

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countries worldwide, where more than 130 million women and girls are currently living with its after-effects. Particularly common across northern Africa, it is usually carried out before the age of seven. Nigeria and Gambia have very recently banned this practice.

was always denied a response – until she struck a deal with a soon-to-be-married relative at age 16.

“I used to think marriage was horrible because every female relative I had would end up in hospital after getting wed,” she says. “I made my cousin Hibo may have only begun speaking promise to tell us what happened and, out in the past few years, but the subject one month after her wedding, she came has never been far from her mind. She back looking gaunt and unhappy. She was forced to get ‘cut’ aged six in her told us, ‘remember how we got cut when native Somalia, an ordeal she describes we were little? Your husband has to as “being engulfed in pain from head to bulldoze that.’” As the girl lay in a pool toe – like fireworks going off everywhere of blood in her marital bed, her family and you don’t know how to stop them. I danced around, elated that she had been prayed to God to just take me then and proved a virgin. It was only later that she there.” was taken to hospital for treatment. While most girls accept this as an inevitable part of their culture, Hibo sought answers. “The emotional impact it had on me was huge. I couldn’t look at my mum anymore,” she remembers. “All I could see was my hatred and my despair.” Every day for the next 10 years, she would ask her mother why she had been subjected to such brutality and

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“I had this feeling of freedom when I arrived,” she says. “That I’m going to marry the man I want and have the life I want. I went to a doctor who opened me up so I could experience weeing like a normal person. It was the first major changing step in my life.” The doctor was only able to help Hibo urinate normally, she was subjected to so much damage as a child that she will never have healthy genitalia again.

“Imagine telling your husband that you cannot feel anything when you are making love, because that has been taken away from you. You don’t have a connection to your own body because they ripped your clitoris. You also suffer with constant infections, more than the Horrified by the revelations, Hibo soon normal woman because they have cut off fled to London after civil war broke out completely your vaginal lips that protect in Somalia in the late 1980s. “The day from germs entering you. It’s like your I walked through Heathrow airport, all I eyelids being ripped off and you suffer saw was my freedom, my choice, my life,” with dryness too. Imagine even after 10 she recalls. “I kept crying with elation, years of being with your partner you the feeling that I’d be choosing my own still experience pain when you are lovedestiny.” making.”

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But when it came to seeking medical support for her wounds, her experience of the NHS’s FGM treatment was worlds apart from the newly implemented mandates. During each of her seven births, doctors failed to ask what had happened to her and merely wrote the acronym FGM on her files, made all the more galling by the fact she had never heard the term, and could barely speak English. After a number of trips to the library, its meaning finally became clear. “When I read about it for the first time, I thought ‘oh my God, this is what circumcision is’, the dots of everything I was going through physically and emotionally finally connected.” For Wardere and her fellow campaigners, these transparency directives have been long awaited. A recent UNICEF report found 63% of girls in her home country have had their genitalia sewn almost entirely closed, but that just 33% deemed the practice to be wrong, something she puts down to its

lack of awareness among insular Somali communities. This conflict in accepting the tradition has manifested itself in her family too, she has never spoken with her sister about her activism, and a frank exchange with her mother as she lay on her deathbed remains impossible to forget. “One night, my mum came out of nowhere and said ‘I need you to forgive me for what I did.’ I told her that I already had, years ago.” But the moment of reconciliation soured when Hibo explained that she would never allow her own girls to be put through the same torment. “Her face dropped with shock, and there was sadness in her eyes” she remembers. “I felt angry afterwards. I’d just explained why I’d forgiven her but she still thought, on her deathbed, that I should circumcise my girls.”

generation can’t get away from it.” It is this inability to part with archaic cultural practices that makes bringing successful prosecutions against perpetrators of FGM so challenging, as its victims’ sense of familial duty means they will never turn their parents in. Hibo too, admits that she could never have sought charges against her mother. But as the International Day of Zero Tolerance to FGM is marked on the 6th February each year, the fight is showing signs of serious progress. Britain has taken the lead in the Western world’s crackdown on the tradition, the message that this will no longer be tolerated is finally being heard.

Hibo’s story was so powerful that it inspired one local artist Emma Scutt to paint Wardere as part of a triptych of FGM survivors. Emma decided to create ‘Stories from FGM Survivors’ which feature Hibo, along with FGM campaigners Leyla Hussein and Alimatu “That’s how deeply rooted it is for the Dimonekene. The idea is to raise older generation,” she explains. “Even my awareness about FGM, 66,000 women

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and girls are currently living with its consequences in the UK. “There is much more to be done,” Hibo adds, “but I’m really proud to be part of this rainbow campaign, led by people of “all different colours and religions.” “I hope I’ll be alive to see that day when we don’t have FGM anymore,” she concludes. “I broke the chain in my family, and I can’t wait for the day when we see that chain break for good.”

Hibo Wardere

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STORIES FROM FGM SURVIVORS TOUR

In 2015 artist Emma Scutt exhibited portraits of three survivors of female genital mutilation (FGM) – Hibo Wardere, Leyla Hussein and Alimatu Dimonekne – telling the powerful, individual stories of these women through images and words. Their stories may be difficult to hear, but they must be heard if the practice of FGM is to be successfully eradicated. “I’d heard about FGM before and thought I knew what it was - but I learned much more when I first heard Hibo Wardere talk very openly and graphically about the practice,” explains Scutt. “Her speech was powerful and moving, and made me laugh and cry. I was so moved by what she had to say that I felt compelled to help in some way, and thought that as an artist this could be my way of alerting and educating people about FGM.” Emma decided to create ‘Stories from FGM Survivors’ which feature Wardere, along with FGM campaigners Leyla Hussein and Alimatu Dimonekene. The idea is to raise awareness about FGM, 66,000 women

Emma Scutt with the three women featured in her portraits, Alimatu, Hibo, Leyla and Stella Creasy MP for Walthamstow support us by joining our page on

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and girls are currently living with its consequences in the UK. On 21 January 2016, the William Morris Gallery will host a special viewing of the portraits and a talk by FGM survivor and campaigner Hibo Wardere. Wardere will discuss her own experiences and the work she is doing for Waltham Forest Council in local schools. Emma Scutt describes “I’m extremely proud to announce that the three portraits are now going on a tour of Waltham Forest during January to March 2016, beginning with a talk by Hibo Wardere at the William Morris Gallery on 21st January, continuing with visiting exhibitions at three Waltham Forest libraries, and culminating in a talk by all three women at Walthamstow Library on Thursday 3rd March 2016.” Tickets to both talks are free but must be booked in advance for the William Morris Gallery and Waltham Central Library.

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Dates for the library tour: Saturday 23 January - Friday 5 February, Leytonstone Library Tuesday 9 February - Tuesday 23 February, Hale End Library Thursday 25 February - Thursday 3 March, Walthamstow Central Library


MY VOICE: WORKING WITH YOUNG PEOPLE TO DEVELOP SERVICES AND SUPPORT FOR COMMUNITIES AFFECTED BY FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION OR CUTTING (FGM/C) IN SCOTLAND.

“We were told we were going to a party at my uncle’s house. I was blindfolded and some people held my hands and other people held my legs. I was screaming for my grandmother and my mother to help me but noone did. I wasn’t given any medication before or after no anaesthetic, nothing”

Fatou Baldeh, who has lived in Scotland for the last 5 years has never forgotten experiencing FGM/C being carried out on her as a seven year old girl in Gambia as part of a traditional circumcision ceremony. Like so many women around the world it was a trauma that has

stayed with her, but remained deeply secretive due to the taboo on any discussion about it in most practising cultures. There are estimates that between a million and 140 million women and girls around the world have been cut just as Fatou was. Now for the first time in Scotland the organisations that work with FGM/C are engaging in work to assess what people from the communities that practice FGM/C or female circumcision think about the practice. We particularly want to engage with young women and men (under 25!) on the issue. We need volunteers to help us gather opinions and experiences. FGM/C is defined by the World health Organisation (WHO) as including ‘all

procedures involving partial or total removal of the female external genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons’. It is practiced on women across a number of communities from west to east Africa and the Middle East and is seen as a normal part of growing up in many cultures. It is often associated with Islam, although in fact many Muslim communities do not practice FGM/C and many Christian ones do. People in the UK are starting to realize that FGM/C has nothing to do with the Muslim faith. We have very little information on FGM/C in the UK especially in Scotland due to the secrecy surrounding the issue. People involved in the practice rarely speak about it and for many women and girls it is a deep secret that they never talk

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about to others. In 2014 the first ever report on FGM/C in Scotland was written by the Scottish Refugee Council called Tackling Female Genital Mutilation in Scotland. Migration and the dispersal of asylum seekers to Glasgow has contributed to an increase in ethnic diversity in Scotland. The African population has grown 6 times over 10 years. The report estimated that around 23,979 men, women and children, are resident in Scotland who were born in one of the 29 countries identified as a potentially FGM practising country. There are people from these communities in every health authority in Scotland. Recently Fatou and other people affected by FGM/C contributed to making a short film called Sarah’s Story http://www. fgmaware.org/ which is aimed at Scottish health and social workers to highlight issues facing effected communities in Scotland. The Eid in Bosnia

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MY Voice participatory action research project aims to build a clearer picture of how FGM/C affects young people in Scotland. It is being managed by DARF (the Dignity Alert Research Foundation) http://www.darf.org.uk/ which is a campaigning group based in Edinburgh working to end female genital mutilation (FGM) and child marriage and Roshni http://www.roshni.org.uk. Roshni is a Glasgow based organisation working to build the resilience of minority ethnic communities in Scotland, tackling issues from child abuse and radicalisation, forced marriage and FGM, financial inclusion and employability, and the Institute for International Health and Development (IIHD) at Queen Margaret University www. qmu.ac.uk/iihd We look forward to hearing from you!

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If you would like to get involved or just know more about our work please contact us! You will get some training and costs will be covered. Any information will be confidential and anonymous. How to get involved: Email us: siva@roshni.org.uk or dignityalert@hotmail. co.uk or text/phone 07583 434602

Further reading Tackling Female Genital Mutilation in Scotland by the Scottish Refugee Council 2014 http://www. scottishrefugeecouncil.org.uk/news_and_events/ latest_news/2545_scottish_national_action_plan_ needed_on_fgm Female Genital Mutilation Fact Sheet WHO 2014 http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs241/ en/ ‘I was screaming for my mother’, article in The Herald 15.11.13 http://www.heraldscotland.com/ news/13131835._I_was_screaming_for_my_ mother_/


Female Genital Mutilation What is the role of the NSPCC?

What campaigns are you currently running?

but simple conversations can help keep children safe. The Underwear Rule helps The vision of the NSPCC (National children understand that their body Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to • Now I Know belongs to them, that they have the right Children) is to end cruelty to children The ‘Now I Know’ appeal aims to raise to say no, and that they should always in the UK. We run a wide range of £20 million by 2016. This will enable talk to an adult they trust if they’re upset services for both children and adults, ChildLine to visit every UK primary school or worried. from national helplines to local community to talk to children about abuse, how to projects. We provide advice and support protect themselves and where to get help How prevalent is FGM (Female Genital to ensure that every child is listened if they need it. Mutilation)? to and protected, educating the public on issues that pose risks to the younger By helping children understand and Because of the hidden nature of this generation. Through campaigning identify abuse in an age-appropriate crime, there is a lack of precise data we have successfully changed laws way, we can encourage them to speak showing prevalence. A study based and policies, helped to create new out earlier and protect themselves and on 2001 census data in England and organisations and changed the way others from the devastating effects of Wales estimated that 23,000 girls politicians and others think. such harm. We want children to be able under the age of 15 could be at risk of to say ‘Now I Know,’ and not, ‘I wish I had female genital mutilation each year, and Who set up the NSPCC? known.’ nearly 66,000 women are living with its consequences. However, it could be The NSPCC was founded by Reverend • The Underwear Rule even more prevalent than these figures Benjamin Waugh in 1884 and Queen The NSPCC is encouraging parents suggest due to population growth and Victoria soon became Patron. and carers to teach their children the immigration from countries practising Underwear Rule. It can be tricky to find FGM since 2001. the right words to discuss sexual abuse,

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Where did this practice originate from? Female genital mutilation is most common in the western, eastern, and north-eastern regions of Africa, in some countries in Asia and the Middle East, and among migrants from these areas. How is FGM justified? It is an inhumane act which has nothing to do with Islam. What misconceptions are there about FGM? For example does it facilitate childbirth? Some Muslims mistakenly believe that female genital mutilation is a religious requirement, although it has no basis in scripture and was not practised by early generations of Muslims. Religious leaders take varying positions on the practice: a small number promote it, many consider it

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irrelevant to religion whilst others actively related to religious texts. contribute to eliminating the practice. In reality, survivors of female genital It is, however, deeply rooted in some local mutilation live with extraordinary pain customs and traditions. Female genital and are vulnerable to a multitude of mutilation is often motivated by beliefs infections. Often they cannot give birth about what is considered proper sexual naturally, as the strain of labour puts behaviour. It is also deemed a rite of the lives of both mother and baby at passage into womanhood that preserves risk. girls’ virginity, ensures marital fidelity and increases the sexual pleasure that their Will making future husbands will experience. female genital mutilation Female genital mutilation is also a criminal associated with cultural ideals of offence help femininity and modesty, which include reduce this the notion that girls are “clean” and abuse? You “beautiful” after removal of body parts have only had that are considered “male” or “unclean”. one conviction so There are claims that the practice far. prevents excessive clitoral growth and facilitates child birth, which are completely unfounded. As stated, many of these are culturally accepted ideas in certain parts of the world and not Dr Ash Chand, NSPCC Head of Strategy for Minority Ethnic Children

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Female genital mutilation is not being made a criminal offence now – it has been illegal in the UK since 1985, and yet there has only been one conviction in the UK, despite FGM being more prevalent. This plainly shows a need for appropriate support and reporting mechanisms to accompany the law, which is why the NSPCC has introduced this helpline.

With this helpline, the NSPCC is providing a safe space for people to access help and advice about female genital mutilation without fear of reprisal. Callers may remain anonymous, although they are encouraged to provide identifying details for any child at risk. Any information that could protect a child from abuse will be passed to the police or social services, potentially saving their life. The NSPCC has many years As with other forms of child abuse, of experience and training in handling female genital mutilation often remains delicate issues through such helplines with hidden and unreported. The main barrier the focus always being on the child. to prosecution is identifying victims and perpetrators in the first place. Children are too ashamed or afraid to speak out, or just too young to articulate their experience. They may also be under pressure from their community and they may fear criminalising their parents or respected elders in the community. Are there any success stories you could Even amongst adults in these practising share with our readers, on the impact communities, female genital mutilation is that the NSPCC has had in tackling a taboo subject that is not talked about. FGM?

In the first three months since its launch, the NSPCC’s female genital mutilation helpline has taken 96 calls. Many of these were from members of the affected communities, voicing concerns about children at risk. The helpline referred 35 cases to the Metropolitan police, several of which concerned families’ plans to take a child abroad for the procedure. We are optimistic that this intervention could save lives as well as prevent a great deal of harm, not to mention bringing more prosecutions for female genital mutilation. By highlighting this issue we also seek to educate the public and give confidence to those affected to get in touch so it no longer remains a taboo subject. What signs can professionals look out for in a child who may be at risk of FGM? While there are some indicators that

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a girl has been or will be subjected to female genital mutilation, it should not be assumed that this is the case when presented with one or more warning signs. They could also indicate other types of abuse such as forced marriage or sexual abuse. Whatever the case, concerns must be reported to the relevant authorities or NSPCC helpline as soon as they arise.

Perhaps the girl avoids PE classes or sports activities, giving reasons such as menstrual or abdominal problems.

Where can young people go for help?

Children and young people (aged 18 Of course, given the secrecy that and under) should contact ChildLine on surrounds female genital mutilation, 0800 1111 or speak to an online advisor sometimes there will be no apparent signs at childline.org.uk. Adults with concerns at all. It is important that schools create a about a child should call the NSPCC’s culture where children feel able to come free 24-hour female genital mutilation forward and tell a teacher if they or helpline on 0800 028 3550 or email someone they know is at risk. fgmhelp@nspcc.org.uk. Of course, if the Belonging to a community in which danger is immediate, call the police on female genital mutilation is practised, Is there corrective surgery available on 999. the family may be planning for their the NHS? daughter to take a holiday, arranging The following charities can also offer vaccinations and planning absence from Yes. Treatment for female genital useful information and support: school. Maybe the child is talking about mutilation, from counselling to corrective a special procedure or ceremony which is surgery, is available free of charge • Forward going to take place. through the NHS. Many large UK cities • Daughters of Eve have specialist clinics that can offer such • Equality Now If a girl has already been mutilated, she services. Some are linked to an antenatal may be absent from school for a long clinic, others may be within a community period and behave differently on her clinic or GP surgery. All cases are Dr Ash Chand, return. She might find it difficult to sit still handled in strict confidence. NSPCC Head of Strategy for in class, or look uncomfortable sitting. Minority Ethnic Children

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THERE & BACK AGAIN HELPING THE REFUGEES OF CALAIS For me, it all began with a single picture.

I say to my shame, for there were many deaths – and have been since – of those On Thursday 5th September 2015, images fleeing conflicts that have nothing to do with of three-year Aylan Kurdi’s little body them before his image crossed my path. washed ashore on the coastline of Turkey From the 900 human souls that drowned slammed the front pages of international off the Libyan coast in April 2015 (http:// newspapers and began to flood social www.telegraph.co.uk/news/generalmedia sites. I was on a bus on my way to election-2015/politics-blog/11549721/ a meeting in Trafalgar Square when his The-900-refugees-dead-in-theimage popped up on my Facebook feed, Mediterranean-were-killed-by-Britishand unable to breathe I disembarked with government-policy.html) to the most recent one question rampaging through my head; deaths of 18 refugees on the Aegean why did I feel this helpless in the face of coast in November (http://www.aljazeera. a tragedy the world has allowed to occur com/news/2015/11/children-refugeestime and time and time again? drowned-turkey-151111170002461. html), it is estimated that over 4,000 people Tony Benn once said that human actions are have perished in their flight from war in born of two things; “Anger and hope. Anger 2015 alone. Four thousand lives that could at the situation, and hope that you can possibly have been saved... do something to change it.” To my shame, it was not until my eyes fell upon Aylan’s My actions began on a small scale at first. body that I became angry enough to begin I researched and found out about Calaid acting on behalf of refugees fleeing war. http://www.calaid.co.uk/ - a fantastic

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volunteer group that were taking goods in bulk directly to Calais where Syrian, Afghan, Eritrean, Libyan and other refugees were struggling to survive. Easy – all I had to do was collect goods that were needed and drop them off to their London warehouse. A call-out on Facebook and a few WApps later, and I was suddenly flooded with donations of both goods and money coming in from not only close friends but people I had never met before. The response, in short, was beautiful, overwhelming, and eye-opening, it proved that people were waiting to take action too – they just needed the opportunity and people they trusted to help them. Disillusionment with larger agencies and especially our governments has never been so rife as I believe it to be now – which is why, in their stead, people have mobilised in ways unthinkable only a year ago. Following my first – and as it transpired – only drop of bulk goods of tents, foods, clothes, tin can openers, blankets and anything else that might be useful to Calaid, my thoughts inevitably began to

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turn to the needs of women and children. A growing body of evidence accumulated by NGO personnel and investigative reporters across Europe have long highlighted the specific dangers women and children refugees face in situations of insecurity. From targeted trafficking for prostitution and other illicit labour markets by criminal networks, to the entrapment of women into black market bartering systems that force them to do the unimaginable not only for their survival but that of their families, women refugees continue to remain one of the easiest targets for abuse. Such facts were cemented by a BBC investigation report of 17th September 2015 which highlighted case study after case study of unaccompanied refugees as young as 11 being trafficked into Europe from Syria, Lebanon and Eritrea for the sex and drugs trades (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/worldeurope-34286458). In short, a nightmare upon nightmares... As the founder and CEO of Making Herstory (MH) http://makingherstory.org. uk a movement to end the abuse, trafficking


and enslavement of women and girls in whatever way possible – I decided to formalise my intentions of aiding refugees and turn it into a wider, bona fide action. Consequently, and with the agreement of my Board of Trustees, MH broke its remit of taking direct actions in the UK only to deliver aid to women and vulnerable people in refugee camps in Europe, as well as begin tackling abuses they may face upon entry to the UK. By 18th September 2015 – barely two weeks after having first read Aylan’s story – thanks to a group of phenomenal volunteers from across London and even Rotherham, heart-warming donations and a great deal of support, my team and I were ready with a van and two cars of goods for distribution to refugees living in Calais. Since that date and over the last few months, MH has gone on to deliver a further three convoys of aid, becoming more and more organised and taking on board new knowledge with each excursion. From garnering the simple fact that the daily consumption of tinned foods and white

breads was making people sick and taking out fresh produce instead, to adapting our distribution techniques so that women and the most vulnerable could actually access goods directly instead of battling distribution lines, we continue to do what we can to aid the most vulnerable of people living in “the Jungle” camp of Calais. We now have plans for longer-term solutions revolving around the three key areas of medical, family and safety, and hot food needs and perhaps even the building of solid shelters. For whilst the wars rage on and our international agencies remain in a position of inaction, it will remain up to us, the “ordinary” people to provide the basics every human needs to survive. My team members and I are often asked to describe the “Jungle” refugee camp upon our return from each convoy trip. At times, words have failed me; it is difficult to relate to those who have never been to such scenes the shock of having to see human beings – students, doctors, university lecturers, office workers and especially children – living in what can

Onjali Rauf with Herstory volunteers in Calais

People are forced to survive freezing nights in makeshift tents with little but a sheet of tarpaulin to shield them from icy winds, sub-zero temperatures and illnesses.

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only be described as a post-apocalyptic setting. Hostilities of both the UK and French governments towards these refugees means there is little or no infrastructure on the ground. People are forced to survive freezing nights in makeshift tents with little but a sheet of tarpaulin to shield them from icy winds, sub-zero temperatures and illnesses. A gated section at the very end of the camp houses the only “built” toilet and shower facilities, but these are only open for a few hours during the day. For those unable to travel so far, flooded portaloos and “nature” have to be utilised. In a camp of nearly 7,000 people, only 1-2,000 receive hot meals. In short, it is hard to believe that such places exist within “modern”, “civilised” Europe, and that just a few minutes’ drive away, lie family suburban homes with neatly kept gardens and bejewelled shopping centres. But amidst the mud, the mire and the everlooming question of what will happen to each man, women and child who have made it to this, the final, wretched destination of a journey in which they have

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risked everything to escape falling bombs and man-made disasters, solidarity and hope somehow shines through. These two fundamental tenets of human survival exist not only between the refugees themselves, but between them and the tides of volunteers that continue to step in where our governments are failing to help people live on. From the extraordinary husband and wife who deliver thousands of fresh, hot meals through “Kitchen Calais” every day, to former refugees travelling from the UK to work in warehouses or take on building works in the hopes that they can ease a suffering they too have lived through, the very best example of human nature parallels the consequences of our very worst. And in those everyday actions of everyday people, hope – and God – live on.

Onjali Qatara Raúf


HOW MUCH IS ENOUGH? PART 1 The prophet Muhammad salla Allahu alayhi wasallam said: “Nothing is worse than a person who fills his stomach. It should be enough for the son of Adam to have a few bites to satisfy his hunger. If he wishes more, it should be: One third for his food, one third for his liquids and one third for his breath” What is food? Food plays an important part in our lives because we need it to survive and to nourish our bodies. Like every other essential act in our lives, eating, when following the way ordained by Allah (Exalted is He) and the Prophet salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, is actually an act of worship. Today most of us don’t use food the way that it’s meant to be used. I’m sure we can all remember times when we simply ate out of boredom, sadness or stress. The opposite is also true, a lot of the time food is used to express our happiness and love for each other

Zaynab Berrada

like when we’re meeting with family and friends. The problem isn’t that we eat, of course not! It’s that we sometimes over-eat. A while back my little cousin at a family gathering ate... and she ate… and she ate... and then she vomited. On a more serious note, science today tells us that a lot of diseases like diabetes and heart failure can be heavily influenced by our

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diet. So, now we ask ourselves, how can we change our attitudes to food and go back to eating for its true purpose? Allah (Exalted is He) says to us: “Then let mankind look at his food” (Qur’an Chapter 80 Verse 24). Next time insha’Allah we’re going to talk about tips and solutions so that we can figure out... how much is enough?

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University Islamic Society Reflections 2015!

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SOAS Islamic Society

government’s PREVENT programme as well as raising awareness of the alarming rise We start by praising Allah, the Lord of of Islamophobia within the UK. We have Mercy and Compassion. We thank Him for held regular classes and events on how to the innumerable blessings He continues to draw closer to Allah (SWT), and also a shower upon us, and we seek His help and very popular class on how to understand assistance in every affair. the Qur’an. Along with this we organised a careers event for women as well as a The past year has truly been a productive, detailed workshop on how to perfect our fulfilling and perhaps even a life changing prayers. one for the many students who benefit from the services of the Islamic society at The Islamic society on any campus is SOAS University. We stand proud of our more than just the average society. Its achievements throughout the past year – mission is not only to increase the bonds credit must be given to our fabulous alumni of brotherhood between Muslims, but upon whose work we continue to build to also invite non-Muslims to Islam and – and we hope that our propensity to a impart a positive image of our religion, lack of complacency will drive us to work especially during times in which the media harder in the year to come. persists in doing the complete opposite. The challenges we face are many. It is both With the help of Allah (SWT) we raised saddening and concerning to hear of the over £24,000 for needy orphans across difficulties other Islamic societies continue the globe as part of Charity Week! This to undergo. Westminster University now was up from £19,000 in the previous monitor the Muslim prayer room using year. During Islamophobia Awareness CCTV; students at City University face month we worked together with the NUS, challenges regarding their prayer room CAGE, FOSIS, MEND and the SOAS and also prayer space for their Friday Students Union, in speaking out against the prayers. Queen Mary ISOC has been

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suspended based upon dubious allegations with unsubstantiated evidence. University Islamic societies which are powerhouses of goodness have unfortunately come under more scrutiny than ever before. Looking ahead we must stand proud of our achievements and continue in our work for goodness. We must work together as a community in tackling unfair treatment of Islamic societies. As students who are learning and developing, this is our time to contribute ideas and energy to help shape our society for the better. We ask Allah (SWT) to grant us all the strength to work for His sake and to assist us in worshipping Him alone. Ameen. “O you who have believed, bow and prostrate and worship your Lord and do good – that you may succeed” (Qur’an Chapter 22, Verse 77) Kent Islamic Society With the help of Allah (SWT), 2015 has been an amazing year for Kent Islamic Society. Being a final year student, I am


already starting to feel the gloom that will undoubtedly come when I will be graduating later this year, inshaAllah. Getting involved with the Islamic Society was one of the best decisions I ever made, as it certainly shaped and developed me into a much better and able person, alhamdulillah. Thinking back throughout the year, one moment in time particularly sticks out amongst the Islamic Society memories of this year. It is a comment I never expected to hear and it was something that I will remember for a very long time. Although it is something that may seem very insignificant, for me, as the President of the society, it demonstrated that the efforts of the many individuals who have helped to develop the society appear to be in the right place.

very impressed he was with the members of the society. He went on to mention how we were not students like any other as we did not spend our nights disturbing the people around us by partying! And how our manners were rather extraordinary. This small offhand comment made me very proud of the society that many Muslims over the years have invested time and effort into. I pray that this legacy of ours goes from strength to strength, and that Allah (SWT) accepts it as sadaqah jariyah. Ameen. Liverpool John Moores Islamic Society

On behalf of the Islamic society, Asalaam alaykum wa rahmatulahi wabarakatu. To introduce the Islamic society, we annually hold a welcome dinner for new and existing students. It consists of auctions, Islamic reminders, Qur’an recitations, At the end of term, the society had a spoken word, nasheeds and so much more. discussion on critiquing our work in order to It is an opportunity for the committee make improvements for the next term. One to work together and create a fun and gentleman, a mature non-Muslim student, memorable event for everybody. who is a regular attendee of all our events said, and I’m paraphrasing here, how Our ISOC is dedicated to supporting

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students to develop academically, spiritually and socially. Weekly socials are held for brothers and sisters to meet new people and experience different cultures and ideas - bringing us together and creating friendships strengthened by mutual belief. A valuable lecture series on the ‘Art of Marriage’ has also been held this year for an insight into a topic that has many unanswered questions for so many young people. Charity Week, the busiest week of the year, takes place in October. The week is filled with fund-raising activities including collections, bake sales, fasting for orphans and finally a mountain climb challenge up Scaffel Pike!

aspect of Islam. They were comfortable enough to ask us questions and learn more about our faith. Finally, as a society, we are currently striving to get a room on campus for so many Muslim students, with a dedicated ablution and prayer room in which students can practice their faith and make prayer daily. Being part of the society has been rewarding and has helped us to gain a better understanding of a beautiful faith. ISOC presents the opportunity to make friends from various backgrounds, as well as deepening our understanding of Islam; we invite anyone, Muslim or non-Muslim to join!

The Islamic Society is here to help promote a true understanding of Islam for students of all faiths and backgrounds at the university. Social experiments have been conducted on campus where students and staff have listened to verses of the Qur’an or worn the hijab to experience a small

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had with the region was the first target of this nascent community. The conquest of Syria began in the Prophet’s time who sent military expeditions to Syria. Abu Bakr (RA) naturally continued this legacy and dispatched four armies to Syria. The Muslim armies in Syria initially were very successful and came up against very little resistance. This was mainly due to many cities surrendering when hearing that the In the final years of the Prophet of Islam in Arabia, however, would unify Muslim armies guaranteed the inhabitants Muhammad’s (SAW) life the empires of an impoverished people and re-write the of the cities of Syria “security for their Byzantium and Persia were described history of the world. lives, possessions, churches and laws”. In as ‘the two eyes of the earth’. Two rival return the cities pledged not to aid the superpowers which held dominion over The new state ruled from Medina with enemies of the Muslims and would pay an the entire world. Within half a century the first Caliph Abu Bakr (RA) at its head annual tax. The fairness of these conditions of the death of the Prophet Muhammad was hemmed in by the empires of the led to many cities in Syria welcoming (SAW) this world order, which had endured two great superpowers. In the West lay Muslim rule. Once Damascus had been since antiquity, would be disrupted and the Byzantines whose empire ruled Syria, captured after a protracted siege and ultimately eclipsed by the world’s new Palestine, Egypt, Turkey and much of the some quick thinking from General Khalid rising power, Islam. The rise of the new western world. In the East lay the Sassanid Bin Walid (RA) the might of the Byzantine Islamic Empire was miraculous as well as Persians who had control over modern army had to respond to the new power on sudden. The land of Arabia, a vast desert day Iraq, Iran, Central Asia and parts of the horizon. land whose scattered inhabitants were not Pakistan. The crown jewels of the Byzantine divided into states or empires but rather Empire were the resource rich lands of The Emperor of the Byzantines, Heraclius tiny tribes seemed like an unlikely place Syria and Egypt. Syria due to its proximity prepared one major effort to drive the for a great empire to be born. The birth to Medina and the familiarity the Arabs Muslims out of Syria. It was said he raised

The Birth of an

Empire

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an army of between 25,000 and 100,000 men and appointed his top general Vahan. The Muslim army on the other hand was approximately 24,000 men under the command of Khalid Bin Walid (RA), Amr ibn al-As (RA) and Yazid. The place of this definitive battle for the control of Syria would be at Yarmuk in 636. The victory of the Muslims at Yarmuk can be attributed to the strategic genius of Khalid Bin Walid (RA). He organised his cavalry into formations never before seen by the Arabs. Khalid (RA) divided his cavalry into 36-40 squadrons in order for them to appear more numerous in number. Following this Khalid (RA) feigned retreat luring the Byzantine army into rough terrain where they were ambushed, this manoeuvre also separated the Byzantine army from the cavalry which allowed a rout of the foot soldiers to ensue. The Byzantine army were now hemmed in between two valleys with the cliff of Yarmuk behind them, their only feasible escape route, a bridge to the west was already blocked by Khalid’s (RA) forces. The Christian Arabs who were also previously allied to the Byzantines quickly defected

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to the side of the Muslim armies and Heraclius’s defeat was ensured. The destiny of Syria had been decided. In Islamic Syria the Muslims would share places of worship with the ‘conquered’ Christians. The Christian cathedral in Damascus was split in half with both Christians and Muslims using it as a place for worship, before the Muslims would later purchase the cathedral (now Umayyad Mosque) from the Syrian Christians almost 50 years later. A massive cathedral was built just 500 meters down the road and a period of religious harmony ensued. A succession of the great Caliphs ensured the safety of minorities most notably the austere but great Caliph Umar bin Khattab (RA).

his troops through the vast stony deserts of North East Arabia until he reached and laid siege to the economic powerhouse and the capital of the Persian empire Selucia-Ctesiphon. Selucia-Ctesiphon situated about 20 miles south of modern day Baghdad was situated in rich farming land. In response Rustam, the Prince of North West Iran assembled a huge army which was made up of Armenians, Persians, Albanians and Central Asians. The army of the Persians was expected to rout all before it, and initially they were successful forcing the Muslims to retreat to the confines of Arabia. As the Muslim army retreated back into Arabia they received reinforcements of 20,000 men and immediately charged at the Persian In the East of Medina lay the empire of Army which lost all discipline, panicked the second eye of the world, Persia. The and fled. It was reported that the King of conquest of Persia was notable for the Albania was so panicked he flung himself speed of which it occurred. The seminal into the river Euphrates and swam to the moment came however in 638 at the Battle other side deserting his men. The battle of of Qadisiyya. The army of the Muslims Qadisiyaa soon became an Arabic fable led by General Sa’d ibn Abi Waqas (RA) about overcoming the odds, with small would spell the beginning of the end of unsophisticated Arab armies defeating this ancient empire. General Sa’d (RA) led the might of the Persians. The Emperor of

Persia when hearing of the defeat of his army fled his capital in great haste, with the fertile lands of Iraq in Muslim hands and an Emperor on the run, the Persian Empire dissolved as a real political entity. The Muslim armies of the Rashidun Caliphs permanently changed the global balance of power. Soon after the conquest of Syria, Egypt would fall into Muslim hands under the leadership of the ever cunning and intelligent General Amr ibn al-As (RA). The Byzantines barely resisted the initial conquest of Egypt with the governor of Egypt, Cyrus agreeing to remove all Byzantine troops from Egypt in exchange for the safety of the Christian religion, which Amr (RA) a devout Muslim immediately granted. At the beginning of the Rashidun period the Muslim world was confined to the smallest cities in Arabia but by the time the last of the great Caliphs Ali (RA) died 29 years later the empire stretched from Sindh in Pakistan to Tripoli in Libya. The empire of Islam became the world’s premier superpower and would soon be knocking on the gates

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of Constantinople itself. This transformation of a backward people to world conquerors can only be explained by the political unity, spiritual purity and the immense motivation Islam brought to the Arabs. Finally it is important to note that the Muslims did not blind the ‘two eyes of the world’ using brute force but rather employed a combination of intelligence, courage and a strict adherence to justice, where everyone lived peacefully alongside each other. Further Reading ‘The Great Arab Conquests’, Hugh Kennedy ‘In God’s Path’, Robert G Hoyland ‘The Sword of Allah: Khalid bin Al-Waleed, His life and campaigns’, Lieutenant-General A.I Akram

Hassan Majeed

Umayyad mosque, Damascus

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Khadija Hussain My Forced Marriage

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I was born in Bangladesh, myself and my three elder sisters all came to the UK in 1988 with our parents. My father always wanted a son, so when I was born, the fourth daughter, he had nothing but resentment for me. Furthermore, my father believed that it was not a woman’s place to go out to work; this was a man’s job, and hence his desire to have a son. He treated all four of his daughters as a burden, a curse! My brothers were born three years after we moved to England. My father wanted all of his daughters to be married as soon as they reached 18 years of age. He did not see the benefit of education, he would often say ‘once you’re married you will be a housewife what use is study?’ My mother always listened to my father; she was quiet and the obedient wife, who never disagreed with her husband. She never stepped out of the house without my father. My mother was also too afraid to stand up to my father, and therefore she is also partly responsible for the consequences that destroyed our lives. As children myself and my three sisters

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had a very strict upbringing. Our home was like a prison, we were never allowed to go outside and play like other girls, we went to school and came straight home, and then went straight to mosque. We were never allowed to go shopping or to parties or school trips. We were like prisoners! Even within the home I didn’t feel loved. Sometimes I refused to come straight home from school and wanted to play football in the school field with my friends. I was beaten every time and was told that girls do not and should not play football. I even ‘dared’ to speak to boys at school and mosque. Once my father saw me and I was beaten very badly. I was locked in a room and starved for four days. I was the only wild child in the family. I would answer back to my father, and when he hit me, I would tell him that I did not feel any pain.

a complete stranger from Bangladesh. My sisters accepted that they could not do anything about it and they were too scared to argue with my parents. I knew that eventually it would be my turn to be the victim of a forced marriage; I saw my future. I just prayed that maybe I would end up with a good husband who would love me.

I was 19 when I went to a music concert with my friends. This was strictly forbidden in my family and hence I lied to my parents and told them I was working an evening shift. My father was a suspicious man and decided to come to my workplace and check on me. He saw that I was not there and was furious with me. I got home that day to be beaten almost to death. The very next day I could not walk or get out of bed, I had bruises all over my body. My father booked tickets All three of my sisters were married to Bangladesh immediately and we were as teenagers. All three were taken to off within a week. I knew my fate and I Bangladesh and were forced to marry was lost, confused, and too frightened to men who my father had chosen for them. do anything. I should have run away from My sisters accepted their fate and destiny home and called the police but I was too and they did not protest against marrying scared. After arriving in Bangladesh my

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marriage was arranged to a complete stranger. I was told I’d be married within a month. Unlike my sisters I protested and begged my parents that I did not want to get married there. I cried and explained that I would never be happy marrying a stranger. Once again I was beaten, I was locked in a room and starved.

and blue on a regular basis. I told my After the marriage I stayed in Bangladesh parents and they told me that it was all for 6 months with my new husband and his my fault and I deserved it. It was not just family in their house. I had to learn how physical violence but also psychological to cook, clean, and do all the household and mental torture. He would make chores; I felt like a slave in the house. On me feel worthless, he would disrespect top of this my new husband told me on me in front of others and humiliate me, my wedding night that he did not love everything I said or did would be a me and that his parents had forced him problem. He stopped me from seeing any My grandmother showed me a to marry me too. I felt sympathy for him of my friends and family. He even took photograph of my future husband who and felt that we both had been treated my bank cards so I could not withdraw was ten years older than me and very the same way by our families. I therefore my money. After four years of domestic unattractive! He was not educated at all tried very hard to make the marriage violence I finally called the police. He and he did not speak English. I started work. I came back to England and ten was arrested but he begged me to give thinking about how my life would be with months later my husband also got his visa. him another chance. He promised me that this man. I attempted to commit suicide he would never hit me again. I did not by swallowing 100 pills but I vomited It was fine for the first year or so. But press charges and asked the police to most of them out, and my attempt was eventually he started becoming more and release him. But I was wrong, the violence unsuccessful. I was engaged to this man more controlling; he became aggressive continued. five days after arriving to Bangladesh. and argued with me about everything I saw him for the first time at my and anything. Eventually I saw similar Now we were living in the same house engagement party and we did not speak traits in him as I did in my father. And then but like strangers in separate rooms and a word to each other. Once again after one day he hit me. separate beds; we did not have a sexual the engagement I begged my parents I ignored it and blamed myself. Then he relationship. But then he raped me, and not to force me into this marriage, but my hit me once again and again; I thought this resulted in me getting pregnant. I was father said I should do as I’m told or they it was my fault. Eventually the slaps 25 years old and this was my life. He would kill me. I had no phone or means of became punches, the punches became even beat me when I was pregnant and escape. I had no choice but to marry him. kicks, and he was beating me black a few days after giving birth he beat me

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again for wanting to choose my babies name. Eventually I realised that I had to get out and I could not continue living like this. It was an unhealthy environment for my children to grow up in. I am 27 now and I have finally left him. I have filed for divorce and I start university soon. I am the happiest I have ever been in my life. To anyone who has been forced into a marriage remember you do not have to stay! Anyone who is experiencing domestic violence get out now! You can be happy and do not deserve to live in fear. Names have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals You can find more advice and support about forced marriage from the Forced Marriage Unit, The Muslim Women’s Helpline and Karma Nirvana later on this issue.

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Shafilea Ahmed Murdered by Her Parents

#RememberShafilea. #RememberShafilea. #RememberShafilea. #RememberShafilea. #RememberShafilea. #RememberShafilea. #RememberShafilea. #RememberShafilea. #RememberShafilea. #RememberShafilea. #RememberShafilea. #RememberShafilea. #RememberShafilea. #RememberShafilea. #RememberShafilea. #RememberShafilea. #RememberShafilea. #RememberShafilea. #RememberShafilea. #RememberShafilea. #RememberShafilea. #RememberShafilea. #RememberShafilea. #RememberShafilea. #RememberShafilea. #RememberShafilea. #RememberShafilea. #RememberShafilea. #RememberShafilea. #RememberShafilea. #RememberShafilea. #RememberShafilea. #RememberShafilea. #RememberShafilea. #RememberShafilea. #RememberShafilea.

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Shafilea Ahmed was just 17 when she was killed by her mother and father, Farzana and Iftikhar Ahmed, for living a Western lifestyle and refusing to marry the man from Pakistan who they tried to force her to wed. Shafilea’s parents believed she would bring shame on the family. Her father suffocated her in front of her siblings with a plastic bag. Her parents wrapped her in bin bags, and dumped her body in a lake. Shafilea would have been marking her 30th birthday this year. To mark her loss, her birthday is today marked as a ‘Day of Memory’ for UK victims of ‘honour’ based violence, which leaves young men and women ‘isolated and forgotten’ according to the charity Karma Nirvana, which supports the victims of forced marriage.

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Karma Nirvana is behind the shocking image in the online advertising campaign recently launched, which aims to raise awareness of the tragic loss of so many lives. Shafilea’s murder shocked the UK, but a staggering 141 British girls have been murdered by their own families in so-called ‘honour’ violence since Shafilea’s death in 2003. That’s 12 girls a year killed for not getting married to their parents’ choice. Karma Nirvana say that although Shafilea’s case seems horrific and shocking, it is “typical”. Shafilea was the victim of violence by her family throughout her life. She asked for help from teachers and social services, but she was repeatedly ignored and sent back to her family, who then killed her. Her parent’s guilt was only discovered seven years later, when Shafilea’s younger sister Alesha arranged a robbery to take place at the family house, so that she could use the opportunity to tell police her

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#RememberShafilea.

This disturbing photo is a chilling reminder of a teenager who was murdered by her own parents in front of her brother and sisters, in a so-called ‘honour’ killing.


parents had murdered their daughter. Karma Nirvana is asking people to tweet to raise awareness of the little-understood crime and to honour the victims by using the hashtag #RememberShafilea. Jasvinder Sanghera, a survivor of forced marriage and the founder and CEO of Karma Nirvana, says: “We hope to make a real change by launching the Day of Memory. But since the campaign began (in January 2015), there have been another 12 honour killings in the UK.” “People are still being threatened and abused by their families for failing to fall in line with their beliefs. The biggest complaint I hear from victims is the lack of support and knowledge from professionals. Shafilea Ahmed sought help from statutory organisations including social services and teachers but was repeatedly sent home to her family, who took her life.”

to a distinct religion. People don’t want to offend communities or individuals, or be called racist, but culture is no excuse for abuse. Training for professionals is critical.” The charity says that a donation of £20 could provide life-saving support for up to two victims of forced marriage and honour violence, and urges people to donate through its website to keep helplines for girls like Shafilea open.

Louise Ridley

For support with ‘honour’ violence and forced marriage, contact Karma Nirvana’s Honour Network Helpline on 0800 5999 247.

DESIGN NOT FINISHED

Sanghera added, “Honour-based abuse affects all faiths and cannot be attributed

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#


Is the Honour Based Violence Support Model Working? Charities, health workers, government and councils are all to blame when victims like me are left to cope without support to help them escape abusive families and community groups. I am furious that the recent report on honour violence, published by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC), seems to seek to point the finger solely at police. Here’s the thing, it’s not just the police that are to blame. The time has come for survivors like me to insist we drag all those who have failed us out into the light, and explain the real reasons why British men and women are still left to become victims of honourbased abuse. Though the police have their flaws, the many lazy, bureaucratic

domestic violence charities and support organisations - staffed by well-meaning female ‘thought leaders’ who seem more busy telling the media what is best for us ‘survivors’– are also at fault. Surely if the police are being attacked for their failures, these agencies whose sole reason for being is to work with police to prevent crime and deal with its aftermath, are just as bad? From charities to MPs, NHS executives to ministers whose platitudes are followed by funding cuts to services, from local councillors to medical and educational professionals, the signs of failure are widespread. Men and women suffer if they face a wall of telephone referrals, being constantly moved on by incompetent staff who read

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scripts, disconnected from the cases they are handling.

Men and women will never get the help and protection they need to escape and fight hatred and violence within their As a survivor of honour abuse, I do communities if the government, the police, feel failed by police. They, along with charities and other agencies fail to act other care agencies I contacted, did quickly and effectively when that cry for not spot that it was honour abuse being help goes out. For, after it has, an entire inflicted on me despite clear evidence. community can turn on the victim. What My horror was compounded two-fold; happens after you raise the alarm is a having been ignored, my cries for help postcode lottery of help and assistance. unwittingly helped my perpetrators who Worst of all, there is a conveyor belt of took advantage of their systematic errors honour abuse ‘solutions’ when every case and inaction. But more than that, I feel is different. It feels as if you have to be failed by the organisations who purport a certain type of victim - meek, a mother to speak out for me. with many children, no independent income – to receive assistance. If you fall The process of waking up and realizing outside this criteria, the entire system can that what is happening to a man or chew you up and spit you out. woman at the hands of their loved ones is a crime, and is unacceptable, is long, Poor referrals, badly-run agencies, box fraught and complex. Perpetrators ticking, moving the victim away to a life of honour abuse rely on maintaining where they are often alone, stripped of the status quo, from partners, family, their family; the experience of receiving relatives, and community leaders to support is, in many cases, a whole new members of the religious establishments. horror to face. Meanwhile other potential All of these people are part of the victims are reminded of the social victim’s life, but if the victim turns their isolation that awaits them, if they dare to back on them, they will do the same. confront or break a family code.

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All this sadness can be ended if we can do two things. First, all funding for services supporting victims should be pooled and an umbrella organisation established which will represent all organisations and agencies working for and with survivors. Second, that organisation should then work on creating a national honour abuse strategy that is led and executed by the brilliant small charities who work at the grassroots level. They do exist, but we rarely hear of them as they lack funding and are not media savvy. Never has the provocation ‘who is watching the watch keepers’ been so apt. Blame the police all you want, but that’s not where the solution lies. We need reform of the entire sector – and fast. - Anonymous


Top Tips for Staying Emotionally Healthy

Believe in yourself

There is the old saying ‘A problem shared is a problem halved’ and sometimes you can feel better just talking to somebody about a problem. It may be that you are just having a bad day or it could be an ongoing mental health problem that you need support with, but the important thing is to not try and cope with everything on your own.

to do at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise, five days a week. Don’t panic - this isn’t as bad as it sounds! The key word here is moderate. Eating well is also an important part of looking after yourself mentally. There is increasing evidence of a link between what we eat and how we feel. This is called the ‘food – mood’ connection. How we feel influences what we choose to eat or drink, and a healthy diet can protect our mental health.

Low self-esteem can be the root cause of some mental health problems and can cause a vicious circle. You feel bad about yourself, so you get depressed, which makes you feel even worse about yourself, so you get more depressed Take Time Out and it can be difficult to break that cycle. Positive thinking and boosting self- How many times have you been told to esteem will improve emotional wellbeing. ‘chill out,’ ‘chillax’ or ‘stop stressing’? Christopher Leaman These are everyday phrases but taking Young Minds Ask for help time to relax is really important to www.youngminds.org.uk maintain positive mental health. Most of us feel overwhelmed or like we can’t cope with things at least once in Look after yourself our lives, and most people feel like that a lot more frequently. It is at times like Everyone knows that exercise is good that, that you need to be able to talk to for your body, but did you know that it’s someone and don’t be afraid to ask for important for your mental health, too? help. For good mental health, you should aim support us by joining our page on

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Human Relief Foundation are working in partnership with the four Islamic Schools in Manchester:

Preparatory School (Winner of Spoken Word Competition). - Auction (Top 12 pieces of art work will go into an auction, 3 per school) Manchester Islamic High School for Girls - Bazaar from chocolate fountain and Kassim Darwish Grammar School for Boys cupcakes to jewellery and more. Manchester Muslim Preparatory School - Prizes for the best Art Work and Afifa High School & Primary School awards for the winning school. The pupils of each school are currently taking part in The 99 Names Challenge where they are creating unique art pieces which then will be displayed at The 99 Names Art Exhibition. The 99 Names Art Exhibition will be held at the British Muslim Heritage Centre and launch on Saturday 13th February 2016 from 1 - 4 pm. The Art Exhibition will include: - The 99 Names Art Exhibition with 396 pieces of art work. - Live Calligraphy - Kamal Uddin (Who will speak about the 99 names of Allah and Nasheeds). - Nasheeds by the Islamic High School for Girls - Spoken Word Performance by Muslim

There will also be a Fundraiser at the end of the event. The funds raised will go towards building a Rehabilitation School in Jordan for Syrian Orphans. The fundraising will be done by Rahim Jung. Tickets ÂŁ5 per person Purchase your tickets: 0161 312 3434 s.zafar@hrf.co.uk

99 Names

Art

Exhibition

Sairah Hasan

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Dua

Taking Refuge

Allahumma inni ‘a’udhubika minal hammi walhuzni, Wal’ajzi walkasali, walbukhli waljubni, Wa dal’id-daiyni wa ghalabatir-rajal Translation: O Allah, I take refuge in You from anxiety and sorrow, weakness and laziness, miserliness and cowardice, the burden of debts and from being overpowered by men.

Rumaysa Malik

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FREE Online Magazine

for Young Muslims of the 21st Century

Stories of the Prophets (pbut) Book Reviews & Poetry Inspiring Role Models Muslim Heritage ...and much more!

Fifteen21.com

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Over the last 4-5 years I have come to realise that the relationship and links between Jews and Muslims in Britain is not as developed as it could and should be. Up to that point, like many people, I had been involved in various versions of ‘interfaith’ work, locally where I live and nationally in projects like Islam Awareness Week and various exhibitions and events to bring people together to learn about each other.

Julie and Laura Janner-Klausner

I met Laura Marks first when we worked together in 2012 on a Year of Service connected to interfaith volunteering and social action. Importantly we have developed a good friendship, something that I feel is crucial and is perhaps where we sometimes go wrong in the more general ‘interfaith’ work. If meetings are held, tea is drunk and samosas are eaten, but friendships and relationships are

not properly nurtured, will that really be good enough? One year ago we saw the tragic events in Paris unfold on our news channels. One aspect was clear; the Kosher supermarket was deliberately attacked by people claiming to do it ‘in the name of Islam’. I felt sick. I felt angry. I felt confused. I felt motivated to do more not less. The first people to message me were some of my Jewish friends to make sure I was OK, to acknowledge that it would be difficult for us as Muslims, to reiterate our links and friendship and for us to know that the work is more important, not less. At times like that it is clear that proper relationships are so crucial. It was a very touching moment and a poignant reminder for me that I will always remember. And I am a firm believer that women, Jewish and Muslim, have

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Nisa-Nashim Nisa Nashim Challenging Misconceptions 55

so much to do together. I think we can do things differently. I think we see the world differently. We need more women at peacenegotiating tables and we’d see things change around the world, I genuinely believe that. Men can’t do it alone, however much they may have convinced themselves that they can!

Julie with Laura Marks

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people ‘get’ our idea and see things as we do. We are focusing on projects that work, things that we feel can be easily managed. The only criteria we have set are that each project has to be led by a Jew and Muslim.

A few months ago I noticed Last year Laura and I formally a group in the US called launched Nisa-Nashim which ‘Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom’. means ‘Women’ in Arabic and They seemed to have a similar Hebrew. As activists, as women ethos and be doing similar work. who have been engaged in social We reached out to them and action in our communities for made contact with their awesome many years, we knew that we founder Sheryl Olitzky. They wanted this to be more than a had a conference in December talk-shop, more than just a series and we were invited to go along of meetings and then nothing and present there. Sadly, my coming from it. So we set up the friend and partner in crime Laura Network and so far the response got ill at that time, and was not has been amazing! Every able to go. I took her with me meeting and get together we in spirit though! It was a great have had has been well received conference, the first of its kind and well attended. It is humbling with around 300 Jewish and but also so exciting to see other Muslim women there from all over


the US. They have ‘chapters’, local groups, set up in many different places now and have a headstart of a few years since they started. I learned a lot and for my first trip to the US ever, it was a great experience. Lots to think about. Our focus for 2016 is to help women set up small groups in local areas in the UK and to help them facilitate projects and activities like dinners, visits to each others places of worship, business breakfasts, walks and sports. All locally led but linked into the national work too. Lots of scope, lots of ideas, we know that often the simple but consistent activities are the ones that have

the most impact. So often since we started this I see something work well or see some women hit it off straight away and I ask myself “why have we not done this before?” I don’t fully know the answer to that but what I do know is that working with Jewish women is fantastic, they really do feel like our cousins, so much more in common than different. In the US Sisterhood group they have a ‘policy’ that they won’t talk about Israel and Palestine until their local groups are well established and really trusting relationships have been nurtured. We will

take a similar approach here, not to stop conversation and dialogue but because we don’t want all of the work we are doing to be dictated and framed solely by what is happening there. I am excited to be building this fantastic network with Laura, someone I have grown to know and respect as a friend and yes, often the frank conversations we have on the phone or on text are brilliant! 2016 will be an important year and I can’t wait to see where it takes us. Julie Siddiqi

Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom conference

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THERE IS NO HONOUR IN VIOLENCE AGAINST MEN AND WOMEN


University Islamic Society Reflections 2015!

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Dublin Institute of Technology Islamic Society DIT Islamic Society launched in 2010. Even though it is quite a young society we have achieved many things. Through the years, we have attracted many new members. Our Islamic Society hosts many events including talks, weekly halaqas and social activities for both sisters and brothers. Our goal in 2015 was to unite the Muslim students on each campus, since DIT is split into many different buildings around Dublin city centre. We aimed to achieve this by regularly keeping in contact, befriending, and hosting events, for our members. To kick off the academic year, DIT Islamic society organised a Fresher’s fortnight where we introduced the society to new students. Our Islamic Society values the importance of Tarbiyah and by keeping that in mind, we have held weekly halaqa circles. In collaboration with other Irish ISOCS we organised a hike and an Eid dinner which took place at the beginning of the academic year. Our ISOC holds a lot of

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events for brothers and sisters, like when we hosted a girl’s dessert night in aid of mental health week in DIT. In the same week the brothers held a games night in collaboration with Gamesoc. We are lucky enough to also hold events outside of college such as Bubble football for the Airsoft. These outdoor events help our members to get to know members from other colleges. Every year DIT participates in charity week where societies can raise money for good causes. This year we decided to do something different and have a bungee Run and jousting available on campus. We also held a girls event called “Keep calm and take a pizza break� also in aid of charity week. As we are an ever-growing society, there are still areas we need to develop on, but we look forward to new opportunities in 2016! Sunderland Islamic Society 2015 has been a very eventful and

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colourful year. At the beginning of the academic year the society acquired a new committee to run it. At first it was very chaotic and disorganised, however, the team adapted to it and now we have great ideas on how to improve the ISOC in 2016. Charity week took place towards the end of December. We would like to say a massive thank you to everyone for helping out and making it possible. We had many great volunteers who gave up their time to help others, and we also had many very generous and kind people donating money to the good causes of charity week. 2015 has also been a challenging year for some, with many terrorist related events hitting international news headlines. The aftermath and backlash of some of these events sometimes made life challenging for some, but the general public’s response to this has, in many cases been quite amazing. The simple show of unity has been incredible. All that said, we hugely look forward to 2016 and all of the challenges and

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possibilities it will bring. We hope to do our best to reach more people and dispel ignorance, and to raise more money for charity week and help more people. Oxford Islamic Society 2015 was one of our most turbulent in recent times. However, at the same time, there were plenty of positives and blessings that we can also reflect on. At Oxford ISOC, alhamdullilah we have also had one of our most successful years. This is best epitomised by our Experience Islam series of events which took place from February-March 2015. As usual there were fantastic speakers and events such as our Poetry Night and the Cultural Fair, but what was most heartening to see were the number of non-Muslims who came to our events and the genuine interest to find out more about our faith. As the new academic year started in October, we had some of our most successful Fresher’s events. The events were capped off with our annual Fresher’s support us by joining our page on

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dinner, attended by over 100 people and the first one jointly held with our brothers and sisters at Oxford Brookes University. Finally, a reflection of the year is not complete without discussing charity. This year was our most successful ‘Charity Week’ in years, with proceeds going to provide food aid to refugees in Sudan. As well as this, the response to the refugee crisis has been overwhelming with the ISOC collecting funds as well as physical donations. Our prayers are with those who are suffering from the tumultuous events around the world. May Allah (SWT) make this year, a year full of blessings and grant us all the opportunity to rectify ourselves. Ameen.

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Islam does not condone Domestic Violence

We are very well versed with the teaching that charity starts at home. But for the millions of Muslims across the globe, charity is a part of Islam and is so important that it is one of the five tenets of faith. The Muslim community is deemed the most generous group who regularly supports various causes both at home and abroad and this is a humble achievement and magnifies the beauty of Islam. The ability to help another person in need is rewarding internally but more importantly in the eyes of Allah (SWT). It is however distressing and sad to highlight that despite the generosity of the Muslim community and our advocacy for various causes like tackling poverty and supporting refugees, we still largely ignore the issue of domestic violence. This is for several reasons but some of these include that there are far more worthy issues that need addressing, it is not a real problem, and that this is impossible since there are a significant proportion of Muslims who believe it is the right of the husband to discipline and control ones wife.

Islam is a religion of tolerance and mercy and at the heart of our faith we know for sure Muhammad peace be upon him never laid a finger on any orphan, child, elderly person or his wives. He is the role model we aspire to follow and we persevere to be just like him in his perfectness. Yet we cherry pick at times when it suits us. Domestic violence is not a seasonal disease that affects us on a rare occasion, it is degenerative and long term and eats away like cancer. We just need to stop being blind and start listening and we will find someone close to us who behind the facade of sweet smiles and boisterous walks in life is suffering whilst we debate whether domestic violence is a real issue or not. We are quick to highlight the rights of women and the honour that Allah (SWT) has given women and this is true. But in practice our words often vanish like clouds of puff and what is left is not the Islam we propagate. Nour is the first Islamic charity that actively works to break the silence around

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domestic violence and start engaging local Muslim communities to start talking and debating about this issue. We must work together to end the silence and the shame hating. Domestic violence is real and testament to that is the number of both sisters and brothers who have approached us for support and advice since we launched in 2010. We offer access to counselling and legal advice as well as access to the Shariah courts and shuyookhs for Islamic advice to help in parallel with legal processes.

Nour Ambassador Nadia Ali

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our small humble operation to enable us to help as many clients as possible and we smile each time we can help because it reminds us to keep our organisation going through all the difficult times.

We are a very small organisation but our reach is large. We do not have any public funding and rely on donations and kind support, especially from our patrons Boonaa Mohammed and Nadia Ali. And of course we have a dedicated team that work tirelessly and on an absolute voluntary basis. And somehow Nour When we started this charity we always flourishes each time, from the support reminded ourselves that to have helped of the public but also from Allah (SWT). even just one person would have justified And that is why we are different, for the work we put in to this organisation. But the first time there is a domestic violence Alhamdulilah we have helped hundreds organisation that offers the Islamic in the past few years and that number is sensitivity as well as access to legal never faltering. It is a double edged sword advice and counselling to fully support our to realise just how much of a crisis the community. This has made the organisation Muslim community sometimes is in and how unique and several councils are in turn far behind we are in acknowledging that supportive of our work. domestic violence is real; nothing prepares you for the shocks and even tears when a We don’t say NO to domestic violence client first approaches you and you are left because it’s wrong, we say NO first and numb. But Allah (SWT) has helped grow foremost because it is not a part of Islam

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and we will not allow it to be part of the Islam that we introduce to our friends and family and children. Islam is helping others and not causing harm and we make sincere intentions that this is what Nour brings. We were recently given some feedback from a service user “the thought of someone not having access to Nour and its services is unimaginable, because who else is there to fight and stand up loud and proud against domestic violence?” There is so much we can discuss here but first would be to read and read, ‘iqra’. Read the Qur’an. Read the beautiful rights and the Divine laws of Allah (SWT). Be empowered by Allah (SWT) and never give this up to anyone. I leave you with this dua, “hasbun allahu wa ni’mal wakeel”. The hearts comfort is in the assurance that nothing passes by without Allah (SWT) witnessing for surely He will bring all to trial and be the most Just. Ameen.

We don’t say NO to domestic violence because it’s wrong, we say NO first and foremost because it is not a part of Islam and we will not allow it to be part of the Islam that we introduce to our friends and family and children.

nour-dv.org.uk Morium Ali

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How Hidden is Domestic Violence? One of the difficulties of addressing domestic violence is the way it is entrenched into the very fabric of our society; it affects men, women and children, people from all backgrounds and communities and people of all ages. Domestic violence comes in all forms and manifestations and it can be very difficult for the victim and the victim’s friends and family to detect especially if the abuse is not physical.

campaigns by charities, police, and the home office, is portrayed physically. They depict mostly women with bruises or cuts because this is seen to be harder hitting than a campaign about for example, how an offender withholds money from the victim (financial abuse). The victims shown in these ad campaigns are very often white women and after I personally examined 20 ad campaigns across England for a research project, I only found one ad campaign which showed a man as a victim (this was a LGBT campaign) which brings me to the next barrier of addressing domestic violence – culture, ethnicity and gender.

report abuse because abuse happening to them was not regarded as domestic violence but as a cultural issue for example, it is only over the last few years that ‘honour based crimes’ and forced marriage are now recognised as domestic violence and we are slowly shifting away from categorisation and instead understanding how culture can act as a barrier.

Women from ethnic minority backgrounds also found it difficult to approach the police as they often felt quite fearful and mistrusting of the police. They also felt stigma and shame from reporting more so than women from non-ethnic backgrounds. Most often people feel they cannot report Language was also a barrier for women abuse because it is a ‘personal matter’ The majority of my work as an who either could not speak English or were or they feel that they are breaking up independent domestic violence adviser able to explain their situation far better families and it is none of their business – has been with women from a South Asian in their native language. Of course there others fear of getting involved with the background (Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi are provisions such as language line or police and court system either as witnesses and Sri Lankan) or middle eastern, Iranian, an interpreter but I find that responses and also fear repercussions from the Afghani, North African and/or Muslim are fairly limited in these situations and offender. women. increased the anxiety of the victim. Racism is also a factor to be considered as victims The way domestic violence is portrayed in I found from my work that ethnic minority may experience racism from police officers society through television, radio and ad women overall found it more difficult to or fear racism from police due to previous support us by joining our page on

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experiences. I have found that the police are a lot better than they were a few years ago in supporting domestic violence victims and offer a more practical approach to domestic violence, for example arresting the offender and in Very High Risk cases (where the victim’s life is at risk) the police carry out welfare checks, allocate a dedicated officer for the case and can make applications for court orders to protect the victim. The police overall take domestic abuse quite seriously and will work to protect the victim as much as they can, however, their reach can be perceived as quite limited because it requires the victim to make a formal police report or statement of the abuse in order for the police to be able to take any action. The maximum amount of time the police can hold anyone in custody is 24 hours and if a charge is not made the police have to let the offender go unless in rare circumstances they have extreme compelling evidence whereupon action can be taken without the victims statement. The Crown Prosecution Service overall

regards domestic abuse offences in particular seriousness due to the element of trust involved between the offender and victim. This means the domestic nature becomes an aggravating factor in the case due to the high level of trust involved and the subsequent abuse of the trust because the victim would be living or have lived with the offender and would know who the offender is and therefore it would be very likely that the offender would be a continual threat to the victim and people around the victim i.e. friends, family and children. There is no specific statutory (legal) offence of ‘domestic violence or domestic abuse’ however this term can be applied to a number of offences committed within the home. As an independent domestic violence advocate at Hestia (Harrow) I have found that one of the biggest barriers of addressing domestic violence is the term domestic violence itself; the term domestic suggests that it is something private and personal confined to the home whereas

the word ‘violence’ suggests that it is only physical acts that can be categorised as domestic violence. Domestic violence or domestic abuse is defined as “any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are, or have been, intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality.” The abuse can encompass, but is not limited to: • psychological • physical • sexual • financial • emotional As of December 29th last year (2015) controlling and coercive behaviour was also recognised as domestic abuse and violence in addition to FGM (Female Genital Mutilation) and forced marriage.

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Domestic violence is rarely a one-off incident. It is most often a series of events, best described as being based on power and control. These incidents are cumulative and interlink physical, psychological, sexual, emotional or financial abuse, that have a particularly damaging effect on the victim and can sometimes lead to the death of a victim. The statistic of 1 in 3 women killed by their current or former partner is all too real. If you are a victim of domestic violence please access help. There is help available for you if you do not feel comfortable with approaching the police directly you can be supported throughout the process.

Mens Advice Line 0808 801 0327 (men) http://www.mensadviceline.org.uk The NSPCC advice line/support - 0808 800 500 (not specifically for domestic violence but is a good source of advice for children experiencing or witnessing domestic violence) Streethands (a free service for children witnessing domestic violence and at risk of homelessness as a result) help@ streethands.com www.streethands.org.uk Streethands can also provide short term emergency accommodation for 16-25 year olds.

Here is a further list of useful contacts for men women and children: National domestic violence helpline 0800 2000 247 (women) http://www.refuge.org.uk/what-we-do/ our-services/helpline

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Soleha Khawar


I woke up one morning and started to adorn the hijab. I came from a background that wasn’t practising Islam much but was cultural. I myself was 19 and at college and never had an interest in Islam. To this day I look back at what made me adorn the hijab and then go out in search for peace in Islam. I did have people questioning my intentions of wearing a hijab, as back in the 90’s it was a trend for a girl to wear a hijab and then run away from home to marry her boyfriend or tell her parents about wanting to marry someone she knew, and if it was a no then running away. My immediate family were supportive with my new change. I would now and then get remarks such as “every time there’s work to be done you go in to sajda and keep away from the chores” such remarks would make me want to get married and live my life according to Islam with no distraction. I couldn’t wait to get married to a man that had the fear of Allah in him. From a young age it was agreed I would marry my cousin but this had gone out

OSMA IRSHAD A DOMESTIC

VIOLENCE SURVIVOR

the window for me. My family were not of the typical Pakistani mentality so I was allowed my own choice. I was told about a brother who was looking for marriage. A meeting was arranged for us both to meet at a friend’s house. This lasted for an hour in the presence of my friend and her husband. Upon laying my eyes on him for the first time I thought Sunnah. He had a long beard, wearing a white thobe and imaama, from his speech all I could think of was Islam. Everything he said had a reference to the Qur’an and Sunnah. I knew he was the one for me, as a man with so much knowledge and fear would surely be the perfect husband, wouldn’t he? The next meeting was between families. My family were not happy about the marriage but respected my wish as I was being very stubborn. I wanted to marry a man of deen, I did not go for wealth, looks or status, only faith. On my wedding night I waited for my husband, I had a typical scenario all girls

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from the Asian subcontinent have, of this romantic wedding night. He came upstairs after spending four hours with his friends. I had fallen asleep. After waking me up he said “I didn’t want to give you this ring but I was forced to by my mum, this isn’t part of Islam”.

out much but I found it weird how he would make me do the shopping, while he slept all day. There was an occasion when a brother saw me struggling with an overloaded shopping trolley, a 1-yearold and 8 months pregnant, he helped me take the trolley to my car. When I got home and unloaded the car he saw Three days later it was my 21st birthday, all the groceries and said “wow how did my sisters and friends came to see me with you manage all that” to which I replied “a gifts. My husband opened the door, took brother helped me”. I thought me telling the gifts off them, and closed the door him that would make him feel ashamed and without inviting them in. He then went off realise what his duties are but I was wrong. to the masjid. I came down, put the flowers Instead he punched my head, slapped my in a vase and moved a sofa that wasn’t face and threw me on the other side of the in the right place, it was placed in the kitchen, telling me how disgraceful it is of middle of the room. He came back and me to accept help from a man. He would entered the living room and went crazy, use my hair to drag me off the bed, kicking he grabbed me and started shouting in and punching me, telling me how it’s not rage, his face an inch away from mine “you affecting the baby I was carrying. He had can’t touch, move or breathe without my our house bugged and used other means ijazat”. I was in shock and in tears. Little to spy on me. Telling me he had dreams, did I know that this was just the start of the telling me word for word of conversations physical and verbal abuse I was going to he had in his dreams. face for the next year six and a half years. I felt I couldn’t tell anyone as it was my I was forced to wear a nikaab before I fault for marrying him even though my was ready to wear it. I wasn’t allowed family didn’t agree. He had also put so

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much fear in me that I was too scared to utter a word. I had two boys whilst with him. When I was in labour with my second child, all I remember is him questioning me, and me telling him how I hated him, now I know why they call gas and air the ‘truth gas’! I would never dream of saying such words to his face due to the fear of being beaten. He was disgusted with what I had said and told me as soon as I am out of hospital and the baby is settled that he will be taking both my children away from me. The most joyous occasion of my life had turned into a nightmare. Looking back now I was suffering from post-natal depression. God knows how I am still alive. Being abused was affecting my boys too, as I wouldn’t be myself with them. To this day it kills me knowing I wasn’t able to give them the love and care they should have got. I faced different trials throughout my marriage. I stayed in the marriage making sure I did everything possible so I could stand in front of my Lord and say that I had tried everything to keep


it together. I was staying in an abusive marriage for the sake of my children as I didn’t want them to come from a broken family and wanted them to have a good life. But little did I know it was harming my boys and their future. On one occasion my eldest son who was 3 at the time was not happy with me as I wouldn’t give him a toy, to my amazement he said ‘go in the kitchen I will sort you out” he said exactly what my husband would say to me when he wanted to beat me up away from the boys. In 2006 he was coming home at around 5am in the morning, by now he had no friends so I wasn’t sure where he was and I couldn’t question him. I would make sure I was awake to greet him when he came. I asked him to tell me when he would be late as I need to sleep on time to be up for the boys’ nursery. He wasn’t happy with me saying that so for a week he threw away anything I cooked for him but I carried on my duties. He came down one day at 4pm and went in the kitchen, he found no food and asked me where it was to which I replied

“I haven’t made anything, you’ve been throwing away anything I have cooked for a week, all because I asked why you come home so late”. He went off into a fit of rage screaming and shouting, calling me dumb because I wouldn’t argue back. I said “what’s the point of arguing as I will be wrong and get a beating so I’d rather stay quite”. Due to this he kept me awake all night throwing water on me every time I closed my eyes. I was told I was not allowed to move an inch and every time I did, he would just stare at me with this angry face shouting “why the f*** are you moving”. He would stay up all night either out or watching “all sorts” so being awake at that time was nothing for him. At 8am he said I can sleep for a bit, I had to take the boys to school for 8.45, so no sleep it was. Before my husband left the house that day, he said he wanted answers from me and if he didn’t get them, he would keep me up all night again. After he walked out the house, I broke down and thought what on earth am I doing, why am I not only ruining my life but also my children’s? This was

free yourself like I did.

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him being nice to me as he was talking about getting a second wife. That’s the day I walked away and never looked back. I was scared of going as during my marriage my husband belittled me to break my confidence, I wasn’t allowed to have contact with many in the outside world, and he would also go on about how my family didn’t care about me.

could stay there. My mum grabbed me and said we will go. This is when my elder sister intervened. She sat me back down and grabbed my husband and threw him out, she said “why should the boys and my sister be the ones who should uproot and leave causing more instability to the children?” I can’t thank her enough for doing this for me.

I was so scared to go back to my own house to collect some belongings that I had to call the police to escort me. When I went in to my house with the police my husband looked at me and that look killed me; that’s how scared I had become of him. Lucky for me the police were supportive and made sure he kept out of my way.

There were a lot of ups and downs after this but Alhamdulillah life was so much better than being with an abuser. I started doing voluntary work in order to keep me sane and to show my children that you have to go out to work to put a roof over your heads and not be like their father; awake all night and sleeping all day and the only income being JSA.

After about a week or so I went back to my house so we could talk and I pick up some of my boys clothes. Talk had started and it all erupted. His aunt who ironically works for women rights began asking “what’s wrong with him treating her like that, that’s what men do”. They were telling me to get out the house so he

I started doing different courses that were provided by the government so I was qualified in different areas. I finally landed a job within the civil service which I love and I am a qualified makeup artist too.

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I talk openly about my abuse on social

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media. I get asked as to why I do that when it’s a hard subject to talk about. I do it because I know sisters benefit from it. I get many sisters that contact me for advice and find it easy to talk to me. In the last few years I have had sisters that thought the only way out was to commit suicide but after a chat with me they realised they are worth more than that. My story above is not in depth and there is a lot more to it. I will be creating a blog very soon where I will cover details in depth in order to help others realise what they are going through is not normal and help needs to be seeked. We only live once and do not deserve to be sad, when in such a relationship you think there’s no way out, you feel alone and scared. These are just feelings and the reality is only you can free yourself.

Osma Irshad


Male Victims of Domestic Abuse often end up getting Arrested Themselves

ultimately prevents countless men from reporting intimate partner violence.”

Abuse charities also claim they are finding an increasing number of male victims coming to them to seek advice after becoming the subject of false accusations. Mark Brooks, chairman of the Mankind Research suggests male victims of domestic them. Initiative charity, which takes calls from abuse are failing to report attacks for fear around 1,000 men per year, said “over of being arrested themselves. Dr Jessica McCarrick, a Senior Lecturer the past ten years we have seen a steady in Counselling Psychology at Teesside increase in the number of callers to our Male victims of domestic abuse are University, who carried out a study with helpline stating that they have been the reluctant to report attacks because they male abuse victims, said they were often victims of false allegations. The type of are often subjected to false accusations treated with suspicion by the criminal justice thing we hear is ‘my wife or girlfriend has themselves, according to new research. system. She said their experiences were said if I leave, or tell anyone, she will say More than 700,000 men each year are not only dismissed by some police officers, I was the one attacking her and she was thought to fall victim to violent attacks at but they could even find themselves under just defending herself. It is an extremely the hands of their partners, but many are arrest when their partners turned the powerful weapon in the armoury of the too ashamed to report the offences. tables on them. perpetrator and leaves the victim feeling trapped and helpless.” It was thought much of the underreporting Dr McCarrick explains “men find it was due to men feeling embarrassed by incredibly difficult to talk about their Police forces insist they are making great the stigma of being a domestic violence experiences of domestic violence because strides in tackling the problem with the victim. But new research has suggested of the shame and emasculation they feel number of women convicted of domestic that many of those who do come forward is associated with it. To find the courage to abuse quadrupling in the last decade from risk being arrested themselves, after their speak out, only to be accused of violence 806 in 2004/05 to 3,735 in 2013/14. But abusers make false accusations against themselves, is incredibly disheartening and the problem remains still largely hidden

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and campaigners insist much more needs to be done to encourage victims to come forward and have the confidence to report an offence. One male victim who took part in the study, but did not want to be named described how he had been arrested on three separate occasions following false allegations by his wife. He said “in the latest incident I made the initial complaint to police as my wife assaulted me. But when they arrived, they showed little concern and instead arrested me because my wife made a counter allegation. I certainly feel that more compassion and empathy needs to be shown towards male victims of domestic violence.”

available to enable men to seek help and support. She added “campaigners and researchers made waves in the 1970’s, which had a positive impact and improved service provision for women – it is time to do the same for men. Promoting awareness of the plight of male survivors may encourage men to report abuse and feel assured that they will be taken seriously. Intimate partner violence is an issue which affects men and women within both heterosexual

Dr McCarrick said his account was not uncommon adding “within my research, the predominant experience is of men being arrested under false charges and their disclosures of being the victim are not taken seriously, despite having evidence.” She said domestic abuse must be viewed as a human issue rather than a gender issue with more services and support

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and homosexual relationships and I would like to see increased funding to improve service provision and development in order to support all people affected by this issue.”

Martin Evans


Domestic Abuse, Controlling Partners Targeted Ministers are to change the definition of domestic abuse to recognise under18s for the first time and protect victims from “coercive” non-violent threatening behaviour. It means men or women who abuse their partners by stopping them going out or abuse them emotionally could be found guilty of domestic violence offences. The law is being extended to protect 16 and 17 year olds for the first time amid fears many teenage girls who suffer in abusive relationships have been unable to get the help they need.

includes any incident of “threatening behaviour, violence or abuse” between partners or family members, regardless of gender. The “coercive” element is to be added amid concerns over methods used by offenders to break down their partners by denying them freedom and dignity; such as barring them from seeing friends and locking them inside the home.

Campaigners welcomed the changes but warned that more funding is urgently required to help highly vulnerable victims. Former Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said There is no clear criminal definition of the changes “help expose the true domestic violence. face of domestic violence, which is much more complex and much However, a Government-backed more widespread than people often definition agreed eight years ago realise. Suffering at the hands of

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people who are meant to care for you is horrific at any age, but it can be especially damaging for young people - the scars can last a lifetime.” National organisations helping victims in the UK; Nour: 0208 904 8193 Women’s Aid: 0800 917 1414 Scottish Domestic Abuse: 0800 027 1234 Wales Domestic Abuse: 0808 80 10 800 Male Advice & Enquiry: 0808 801 0327 Dyn Wales/Dyn Cymru (support for male victims in Wales): 0808 801 0321 Broken Rainbow 0300 099 5428 and 08452 60 44 60 Forced Marriage Helpline: 0800 5999 247

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a e t a n Nomi

! l e d o Role M

Over the past 26 issues Fifteen21 has showcased many inspirational role-models from the Muslim community in the UK. From youth activists like Neelam Rose, to Humza Yousaf, a trail-blazing young politician in Glasgow to Aisha Yasmin, a young aspiring designer from Birmingham hoping to make it big in the Big Apple! If you would like to nominate an inspiring role-model to be featured in a future issue of Fifteen21 please email us at editor@fifteen21.com with the following details;

me u l l N a r / Em a i l F s l e d -Mo um b e • R o le c t P h o ne N ta p e rs o n n s i o h C t • wn) abou t (i f k n o s p i re s yo u ) at i n • Wh 150 wo rd s x (m a

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Out on Friday 29th April 2016!


5 February 2016 to 28 March 2016

Exhibition: Faith in Art

Main Gallery FREE Craven Museum & Gallery have been working with the Muslim Museum Initiative to bring together some of the most exciting contemporary Islamic artists working in Britain. Curated by Mobeen Butt, founder of the Muslim Museum Initiative, the exhibition will bring together ten artists, to celebrate the variety and vibrancy of Islamic art being produced in Britain. The exhibition will showcase calligraphy, geometry, arabesque, miniature painting, wood crafting, papercutting, embroidery, fabric printing and three dimensional works. The Faith in Art Exhibition will be accompanied by a five week Introduction to Arabic Calligraphy course by Ghulam Farid Rafiq, a papercutting workshop inspired by Turkish Iznik patterns by Maryam Golubeva, both open to the public, and Samir Malik will be giving local Skipton school children a master-class in Islamic art. The art produced from these community workshops will be exhibited alongside the professional artists during the exhibition. The Faith in Art Exhibition is a joint initiative between Craven Museum & Gallery and the Muslim Museum Initiative and has been funded by the Arts Council England Museum’s Resilience Fund. Craven Museum & Gallery is open Monday, Wednesday – Saturday 10am-4pm (closed Tuesdays and Sundays), admission is free.

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e: museum@cravendc.gov.uk | www.cravenmuseum.org t: 01756 706407 | Facebook: Craven Museum Twitter: @cravenmuseum #FaithInArtCraven


FOOD for the

SOUL

HOW TO WAKE UP FOR FAJR “My wife woke me up every day for Fajr. One weekend she was staying at her mother’s house to help with her younger sister’s wedding preparations. As I was working I could only make it on the day of the wedding. How would I wake up for Fajr I wondered? I have never woken up without her help. Before she left she put the alarm clock in the bathroom and told me to keep the door open. As the alarm clock was in the bathroom, when the alarm went off at fajr time, it echoed through the entire house. I went to the bathroom to shut it off and I found myself standing in front of the sink. So the next step for me was to do ablution!”

Moral: Those who really love you will always find ways for you to get closer to Allah (SWT), but make sure you try yourself too! Hadith: Prophet Muhammad (Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) said “Indeed Allah is gentle and loves gentleness, and gives due to gentleness that which He does not give to harshness (Ibn Majah). Did you know? The first full description of the use of the magnetic compass for navigation (and prayer direction) in the Islamic World was by Baylak al-Qibjaqi in his ‘The Treasure Book of Merchants in Travels’ written in Egypt in 1282. Ehsan Khan

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Masjids Around The World The Goharshad Mosque in the city of Mashhad, was founded by Goharshad Begum (d. 1457), Empress consort of the Timurid Empire. This mosque today, abuts the shrine of Imam Reza (d. 818), the eighth imam of Shia Islam. Imam Reza was buried in a small village called Sanabad, but after his death, his final resting place became known as Mashhad ‘the place of martyrdom’. An entire city, and complex, has developed around the holy shrine over the centuries. With a population close to three million, Mashhad is the second most populous city after Tehran, attracting pilgrims, settlers, and refugees, as described in the works of Diana Glazebrook and Mohammed AbbasiShavazi. This mosque-tomb complex, originally the site of a Zoroastrian temple, houses the only shrine of a Shia imam in Iran, attracting over twenty million visitors each year. It is therefore

difficult to draw boundaries between the sacred and the urban for the Goharshad Mosque in Mashhad, because of the reverence afforded to the entire complex, predominantly for Shia Muslims, but also Sunni Islam too. For many observers, simply settling in the city of Mashhad is a sacrosanct rite of passage in both the present, and the hereafter. The Goharshad Friday Mosque is the oldest place of worship in the city of Mashhad. Once the adjacent burial place of Imam Reza was covered by a dome in the ninth-century, and officially recognised as a pilgrimage site, a complex developed thereon, which played a significant role in the social, cultural, economic, and physical development of the now city of Mashhad ‘the place of martyrdom’. Notably it is forbidden to build skyscrapers in Mashhad which

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The Goharshad Imam Reza Mosque Tomb Complex and the City of Mashhad

could spoil the beautiful panorama of the mosque-tomb complex against the cityscape. The complex is surrounded by residential areas, bazaars (market areas), modern transport hubs, and public gardens, parks, and fountains, emphasising the transition between the public (urban) and private (sacred) spheres of life in Mashhad today. The complex itself houses a museum, a public library, four seminaries, a medical centre, a cemetery, the University of Islamic Sciences, dining halls, prayer halls, and lodges for pilgrims, seven courtyards, and four iwans. Interestingly many public functions are also offered within the sacred space. Furthermore, this complex containing the Goharshad Friday mosque forms the basis for attachment and settlement, in the urban milieu according to the anthropologist Anne Betteridge.

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Pilgrimage centres themselves can act as thresholds between the sacred and the profane. Here pilgrims perform tawwaf (circumambulation) around the tomb of Imam Reza, located directly below the golden dome, mirroring the rituals performed around the Kaaba in Mecca. The Goharshad Mosque serves as a place of prayer within the complex. This complicates the question of functional and spatial ambiguities between the Friday mosque and the city, because both the congregational mosque and the city of Mashhad are revered as places where conventional relations of cause and effect are suspended; where the bones of a deceased imam have sanctified a whole area. Upon entering the sacred sanctuary of Imam Reza, the pilgrim is also confronted with architectural programs, tileworks, calligraphic arts, and wood and mirror-work from different periods, from

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the Abbasid through to Seljuk, Timurid, Safavid and Qajar periods. Different degrees of sacrality are encountered through the large austere entranceways into a space containing opulent colours and materials, lavish lights and embellishments, and soothing reciters of the Qur’an and the adhan (call to prayer), offering the pilgrim, and visitor alike, multi-sensory experiences of the ‘sacred’ and the Divine, within a mosque-tomb complex of an ancestor of the Prophet Muhammed (d. 632), away from the chaos of the modern city. The ambiguity of spatial thresholds between interior and exterior zones, in relation to the Goharshad Mosque invites careful consideration. During the ‘Goharshad Mosque Massacre’ in 1935, many villagers took refuge within the mosque-tomb complex, chanting “the


Fozia Parveen

Shah is the new Yezid�, in opposition to the secularising policies of Reza Shah (d. 1944). For four days the army and the police refused to violate the mosque-tomb complex against the orders of the Shah. The standoff only came to an end when troops from neighbouring Azerbaijan broke into the shrine, resulting in an outcry over the spilling of blood and the desecration of a sacred space. What this demonstrates is the implicit tension between interior and exterior zones, between the sacrosanct and the urban setting. The villagers who sought refuge within the sacred sanctuary believed they would be safe under the guardianship of Imam Reza, it was the ‘followers of Yezid’ who violated the sacred space; the boundaries between liminal spaces can therefore become blurred. Similarly, it is interesting to note the free movement of female pilgrims and visitors inside the complex, within the shrine area, the prayer halls, the library, museum, and cemetery. It could be argued, that more freedom is afforded to women within the complex, than outside of the complex, another spatial threshold, this

time observed along gendered lines and supported by the work of Doreen Massey; between the genderless before the Divine in Shia Islam, and what is gendered; urban society. In conclusion a multi-layered approach is required in understanding the complex roles this mosque-tomb complex has occupied, in the founding and urban development of the city of Mashhad. The mosque as a complex, and hence the different levels of attachment and detachment encountered, coupled with the ambiguity of interior and exterior zones, of this revered site of contested identities, for settlers, and refugees alike, are all questions to consider. A multivalent methodology helps us to understand the spatial thresholds between the Goharshad Mosque and the city, and how they developed, historically and socially.

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Mashhad city skyline

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University Islamic Society Reflections 2015!

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Bradford University Islamic Society University challenges Muslim students with its own culture, nonetheless, it also gives students the platform to flourish and being an Islamic Society that is our aim; to support each student to learn and to progress and to create that sense of unity. The 2015 academic year hit off with social activities such as laser tag, bowling and badminton. We enjoyed a very successful Welcome Dinner with the theme of ‘Holding onto the ropes of Allah’ with speakers such as Abu Abdullah Abbas and nasheed artist, One Blood, with some delicious food! Scattered across the semester we had different classes tying in with the different events the university was holding. During Halloween we had an amazing class on ‘Paranormal Activity’ leaving some spooked. In the spirit of Mental Health Awareness Week we had a class on ‘Dealing with Depression, Stress & Anxiety’ and a weekly Tafsir class where we learnt the rich history and meanings of each surah (chapter) of the Qur’an.

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Our Charity week was in association with Human Relief Foundation supported by university students and staff to sponsor orphans; from selling biryani to hosting bake offs, a Man Vs Food Challenge and football tournaments, it was a brilliant week. The Islamic society proudly took part in Interfaith week where each day we participated in mini conferences, a Faith Walk, an Old School Sports Day and Games Night which truly spoke unity. To end the semester we had an interactive session with Ali Dawah, and the committee visited ‘Intouch Foundation’ to serve food to the homeless. 2015 has been a great year so far and by the will of Allah (SWT) we hope to address issues and continue to support Muslim students. University College Dublin Islamic Society Orientation Week is the first point of contact with our Fresher’s students. We organised tours of our college and showed people how to get to the ever elusive prayer room.

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Fresher’s week is by far the most intense week for an Islamic society. With back to back events and a stand that needs to be staffed for 7-8 hours a day, not to mention that we also have degrees to study for. However, the effort was all worth it, in attracting new members. Our Eid dinner was definitely a major event for us with many attendees and was our inaugural event. People enjoyed good food and company. Open meeting is a good time to catch up with our members and review our performance and see if we are meeting our goals for the year. We hold weekly coffee evenings, as a time for our members to enjoy a nice friendly atmosphere and meet new members. Hike was a large collaborative event with other Irish Islamic societies; we appreciated a day of physical activity and some community building. Airsoft is a high intensity sport which

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leaves a mark on attendees, literally. This event was hosted alongside other Islamic societies, competing with one another. Our umrah trip is organised by local Islamic societies for the students of Ireland. It facilitates a student oriented package for our members. Overall it was a productive semester and we are very excited to roll out our plans for semester two. University of Nottingham Islamic Society 2015 is over. How did it go? ... more like, where did it go?! It was an eventful year to say the least. At Nottingham, once we (the new committee) were put in place, we hit the ground running. The big events which stick out are organising and running our annual end of (academic) year camping trip, supplying daily iftaar during Ramadan and hosting the FOSIS Annual Conference! Though challenging, these events built the foundations of teamwork in the new exec. We had problems from budgeting food lists to the logistics of

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getting freshly marinated halal meat delivered to a campsite for a BBQ… yes, looking back, food comes up plentiful in conversation and events within the Islamic society. After the summer break came Fresher’s week and semester one. Fresher’s week seemed like an endless amount of work and planning during the holidays but alhamdullilah it seemed to attract a large number of new faces and names to remember! This first semester was absolutely filled to the brim with weekly activities, talks, meetings upon meetings and selling charity Krispy Kreme doughnuts. We even shed tears when we reluctantly said goodbye to our treasurer who had to move back to Malaysia! …. and then before we knew it, the semester’s end was imminent, deadlines were looming and everything had seemed like a complete blur. It had whizzed past, reminding us again how short this dunya (worldly life) really is! There’s so much that could be said, but in short, 2015 was incredibly enjoyable; it

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was tough at times and definitely time consuming, resulting in personal sacrifices across the board by everyone, but this just goes to show how dedicated you become. We might occasionally complain or be complained to but the bottom line is that the Islamic society has been and still is an amazing blessing. That we even get this opportunity to serve and meet so many people for the sake of Allah (SWT) is a blessing. Alhamdullilah and May Allah (SWT) accept us. Ameen. York St John Islamic Society York St John Islamic Society launched earlier last year. Alhamdulillah it has been an amazing journey running the society. We started the year with a charity event; an aid collection for refugees where all the donations were shipped to the refugee camp in Calais. We collected over 2,500 items Alhamdulillah. During Fresher’s week we had a stall at Fresher’s Fayre where we had society members sign up. Fresher’s events were ‘come chai with me’, Jummah salah (Friday congregational prayer),

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sisters movie night, games night, and an Eid meal. The next big Islamic society event was Charity week. We had a henna stall, brother’s varsity, and a bake sale to raise money for orphans and needy children. Alhamdulillah we raised £1,025.43. We also collected food donations for the local food bank. To celebrate our Charity week success we attended the charity round off dinner in Manchester where we celebrated the success of the Northern Islamic societies. It was great Alhamdulillah. We held joint events with other university societies such as a talk with the Primary Education society on inclusion for Muslim children. We also held a women-only event with the Religion, Philosophy and Ethics society about ‘Islam and the modern woman’. We hosted a candlelit vigil to mourn the deaths of innocent people around the world and to show how York St John University is in solidarity with all victims. During the first semester, we held hadith classes where we studied Imam AnNawawi’s Forty Hadiths. We are now planning to hold Arabic classes for this semester inshaAllah.

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Being part of the Islamic Society has been amazing. All the members are really good friends and it’s a lovely place to make new friends. The society is not limited to Muslim students, we also have non-Muslim members who love to be a part of our society. We are now preparing for the next big Islamic society week in February which is the national Discover Islam Week. If you want to stay updated with our events follow us on twitter (@YSJISOC) and ‘like’ us on Facebook!


Stories of Sacrifice Exhibition Did Muslim soldiers really fight for Britain in WW1? 2016 sees the official opening of the ‘Stories of Sacrifice’ exhibition, dedicated to the bravery and sacrifice of hundreds of thousands of Muslim soldiers who fought for Britain in World War One (WW1). From recruitment to burial, the exhibition developed by the British Muslim Heritage Centre (BMHC) and part funded by the Community Covenant, gives an insight into the selfless sacrifice of Muslim soldiers, who valiantly fought for the freedoms and privileges that we take for granted in Great Britain today. Complete with a virtual library, lesson plans and a toolkit for schools, this exhibition is the first long-term exhibition of its kind, devoted solely to exemplifying the Muslim community’s contribution and sacrifices during WW1.

400,000 Muslim Soldiers from India fought for Britain in WW1, in addition to a further 280,000 Algerians, Moroccans and Tunisians who fought for the allies. At least 89,000 Muslims were recorded as having given their lives for this country. It is a little known fact that 20% of British Empire recruits were actually Muslims. What an unbelievable commitment and sacrifice. We British owe a lot to these forgotten heroes. At a time when the Muslim Community is continually in the media spotlight, with some in society calling into question their loyalty to ‘British values’ and to the British way of life, this initiative will go a long way to finding some tough but common ground. Opening Times Monday to Thursday | 10:30am – 5:00pm Friday | 10:30am – 12:30pm and 2:30pm – 5:00pm Saturday | 11:30am – 4:00pm Sunday | 11:30am – 4:00pm

Located in the heart of a diverse and developing Manchester, it will provide a stimulating platform from which to discuss and celebrate Muslim identity, belonging and contribution, not only to the region, but to the United Kingdom as a whole. Ashraf Ali www.storiesofsacrifice.org.uk

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8th Cavalry at Marseilles, November 1914 (top image) and 9th Hodson Horse in General Chauvel’s March through Damascus, October 1918

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TEE N2 1 FIF

nterview

Faeeza Vaid Muslim Women’s Network Thankyou for taking time out of your busy schedule to speak to us, how are you? Alhumdullillah - blessed with a challenging life :) Faeeza you are executive director for Muslim Women’s Network (MWN), how did you become involved in MWN, and could you describe a typical day? I became involved with MWNUK as a volunteer in 2006. I had just finished my postgraduate studies in Religious Studies in Cape Town, which was an intensive period of studying what gender justice really means in Islam. I returned to the UK and was looking to apply my theoretical knowledge to an organization which shared my values

of equality and justice. And one that wasn’t scared of challenging injustices in the Muslim community MWNUK was it! I started as a volunteer, attended a Gender Advocacy residential hosted by MWNUK, and later applied for the position of National Coordinator. MWNUK is a small national charity, and everyone is hands on. So very quickly I was also attending events with Government Ministers, and contributing to strategic meetings. When the position of Executive Director became available, I applied, was interviewed and was successfully offered the job. Since then, MWNUK has grown from strength to strength. And I have learnt so much too. There is no typical day! You can plan your support us by joining our page on

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day in advance, walk into the office and have to deal with a crisis call on the helpline, or a pressing issue which has just hit the media. And then balance that with the operational activities of the organization, such as financial management and strategic planning. In this special issue of Fifteen21, we are raising awareness about honour based violence, female genital mutilation, forced marriage, and domestic violence; although not exclusive to the Muslim community, nonetheless how widespread are these problems within our own communities? Sadly, these issues exist in all communities. Being the Muslim Women’s Network UK,

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we naturally hear mainly the cases from Muslim communities in Britain. So I can tell you for certain that each of these issues does happen in Muslim communities. But I can’t give you exact figures of how widespread issues are, because such abuse is often not reported. Lots of victims suffer in silence and will never tell anyone. The main reasons for not reporting is fear; fear of the consequences of speaking out, going against families, and admitting they are victims. What additional barriers do Muslim victims face, in accessing help and support, and how can this be addressed?

think they are alone, and that what they’re going through has never happened to anyone else before. Something like the MWN Helpline is there to offer non-judgmental, faith, and culturally sensitive support. We will listen, and offer advice and information. You can be certain that it won’t be the first time we’ve heard what the caller is going through.

also open to those who are not Muslim. Ultimately, if you are looking for advice on a problem you’re experiencing and want someone to talk to who isn’t going to judge you, that’s us.

We need to make sure everyone is more aware of their rights, and where to go for help and support.

I really believe that we all need to take a more active role in watching out for our friends and family. I don’t mean spying on them!! Simply, if we notice significant changes in their behavior, attitude, dress, ask them how they are, and if they need to talk or need help. They may not want to talk to you straight away, or at all. And that’s fine - but at least you’re an option if they need you. And of course you can always give them the

Does the Muslim Women’s Network also support male victims?

Yes, the Muslim Women’s I think the biggest barrier is Network UK not only has a that there is a real lack of membership made up of men awareness of issues, and that and women, but our helpline people don’t know that support has also received calls from is available. Often people men needing support. We are

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How can young people support friends or family who may find themselves in such a situation?


MWN Helpline number - 0800 society at large. We all carry 99 5786 - it’s free to call from multiple identities - and this mobiles and landlines. campaign says clearly that we’re British, Muslim AND SO Remember too, that if someone MUCH MORE. This campaign doesn’t want to talk to you, encourages everyone to and you’re still worried about upload a picture on twitter them - TELL SOMEONE. You (similar to mine) with the could be their only chance of hashtag #AndMuslim – please getting help. do join us!

range of issues.

There have been some recent high profile cases highlighting failures in safeguarding vulnerable young people, for example the cases of Shafilea Ahmed and Banaz Mahmood, both murdered by family members. We have heard What campaigns and projects You recently launched a cases where once a young are MWN currently running? helpline, what support can person raises concerns to a you offer if a victim rings the teacher for example, social MWNUK are currently helpline, and what has been workers have gone straight working on an exciting role the response so far? to family members, and sent model digital campaign. We the child back home. Do you know that often people have When someone calls the feel lessons have been learnt stereotypes about Muslims helpline, we will LISTEN. We by professional bodies, for because they group the entire will not judge, or tell them what example schools, hospital population as one homogenous to do. Instead, we will ask staff, social workers and the group. appropriate questions in order police in managing risk? to provide the best information The aim of this campaign is to on the issue and information on Reporting a crime is not always represent British Muslim women what support is available, and easy. And reporting when the as diverse, passionate, and go through what options the perpetrators are your parents independent citizens of their caller has. In 2015 we helped or family is even harder. local communities and across over 300 beneficiaries, on a Lessons have been learned

and professional bodies have generally got better. However, a LOT more work needs to be done. For those who are scared to report what is happening to them, I would suggest contacting a third sector organization like ourselves who will be able to tell you a little more about the reporting processes of different institutions, what to expect, and what to do if things aren’t going to plan. We can also advise you on how to best keep yourself safe. How can gaps in service provision be met in a climate of public sector cuts? For example can mosques do more to protect victims, or is this the wrong approach? I believe that everyone needs to get involved in standing up

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Muslim Women’s Network UK AGM 2014

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against injustices, including mosques. However, there should always be adequate safeguarding measures in place, as well as proper policies and procedures, particularly respect for equality and non-discrimination in accordance with the Equality Act 2010. And transparency!! Last year saw the first prosecution under new legislation to protect victims of forced marriage, and again the first prosecution for FGM. There was a lot of debate amongst support groups on whether to support or oppose such proposals. What are your feelings about this, is this a positive measure?

are unacceptable, according to Islam, international human rights and UK laws. I understand that no-one wants to see their parents or family in prison - especially if they’ve reported them. But I believe that the fact that these are now recognised crimes in law, with imprisonment as the punishment, should mean that more parents and families are deterred from carrying out these acts.

Thankyou for you time Faeeza, any final thoughts for young people? Stand firm for equality and justice and do not be scared to speak out.

Ultimately, I believe it’s positive because it gives victims another option and more leverage. If parents and families don’t want to go to prison - they shouldn’t carry out these crimes!

Last year saw the first The criminal laws for these acts prosecution under new were welcomed by MWNUK legislation to protect victims of because they ARE crimes. forced marriage, and again FGM and forced marriages the first prosecution for FGM.

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Marrying a Stranger

Karma Nirvana is today a national charity founded in 1993 as a result of my personal experiences which I wish to share with you. I was born in Britain and went to a British school. I am one of 7 sisters and I watched some of them being taken out of school at the age of 15 to marry men in India who they had only met in photographs. When my sister Robina left at 15 she missed 9 months of her education and I knew I was next in line. However I did not know when, until one day I came home from school aged 14, when my mother presented me with the photograph of a man. I was to learn I had been promised into marriage at the age of 8. It is extremely difficult to express the raft of emotions going through my head as I looked at this man in the picture who was older and shorter than me! Was I really expected to contemplate marriage? The answer was yes and I knew that I was not to breathe a word for fear of my family

and shaming them; like many I was taught to be silent. My protests with my mother fell on deaf ears and led me to being taken out of education aged 15 and held a prisoner in my own home until I agreed to the marriage. In the end I gave in purely to plan my escape and I ran away from home in the hope that this would make my family see sense. Shortly after leaving I was tracked down by the police and encouraged to telephone home. The call changed my life forever and I wish to now share the conversation with you. The conversation took place almost 30 years ago in a payphone and I remember every detail as if it happened yesterday. I was missing my family terribly. I had little experience of life, as young Asian girls we were not encouraged to be independent thinkers, you were taught to make decisions only in relation to your family and never to dishonour them. Therefore our lives were controlled, and our movements monitored, as the

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outside world was often perceived as a threat to our way of life, culture, tradition, and religion, and therefore we were prevented from integrating.

experience. Often it is girls who shoulder a greater responsibility to codes of honour which can be a challenge in adolescence. If we consider the case of Shafilea Ahmed, born in Britain, a bright young girl with So I made the call home and begged my the ambition to be a barrister. Her desire mother to let me come back. But I won’t In 2008 Karma Nirvana launched a of wishing to be just like her friends, who marry that man as I am only 16. I cried national helpline which to date has had a life that embraced everything that out “please mum I want to live my own life, received 44,000 calls for support, Britain stands for; being independence, I want to go to college” but she shouted receiving 8,268 calls in 2014, an increase rights and freedoms, was met with anger over me and this was her response; of 27% compared to 2013 and 392 by her family who deemed such behaviour related to cases under 17, and as young to be shameful. A teacher’s evidence to “Live your own life then, and good luck to as 10 years old. The governments Forced a UK court reported how Shafilea stated you. In our eyes you’re dead!” And with Marriage Unit gave support to 1,267 that she would be regularly beaten by that she slammed the phone down (extract cases in 2014, of which 11% were under her parents for texting boys. That Shafilea from personal memoir Shame). the age of 16. Another 11% were aged had no freedom, and how she had to lie 16-17 years old and 17% aged 18-21, about being in class, to go into town in the My sister Robina sadly took her own life but the youngest recorded case was a afternoon with friends, as her freedom in her early twenties by setting herself on two year old deemed at risk of a forced was a threat to the family, and a cause of fire. This was to be the catalyst that led marriage. Nationally we acknowledge that ‘shame’. me to breaking my own silence and hers the statistics remain under-reported as our and Karma Nirvana was born. I always victims are extremely isolated with multiple Shafilea reported the abuse to several believed there were many more young perpetrators who are meant to love and agencies, and yet she was taken abroad people out there just like me and over time protect them; their family. under the guise of a holiday to Pakistan. as I shared my story and we campaigned When she arrived it was clear that she was for greater changes, sure enough what The cases we deal with affect both boys to be forced to marry. In an attempt to we knew to be true was clearly the truths and girls, however females can differ in prevent this marriage, she swallowed half

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of many. These abuses were happening across the UK in their thousands and the most likely affected group were young people aged between 12-19 years old and sadly this remains the case today.

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a bottle of bleach, and was returned back to the UK and eventually returned home. Shafilea managed to get to college for a short time until she went missing. In 2004 her body was found in the Lake District and the coroner described her death as a vile murder. Both Shafilea’s parents were convicted in 2012 for her murder at the age of 17. She had been suffocated to death in the presence of all her siblings. Her crime? Wishing to live a life in Britain of a normal teenager who had ambition, drive and determination, to want more than to be married to a stranger.

Shafilea Ahmed

Karma Nirvana are committed to ensuring that such young people know their rights and understand that there exists a range of support services which means no-one should ever have to go through a forced marriage. The schools project is creating awareness in schools and has resulted in an increase in reporting from young people. We have a slide which states ‘be a great mate’ urging friends to get information to pass

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onto mates they suspect may be affected or to allow them to use their mobile phone to call the helpline or for a friend to call Karma Nirvana for information. The point is that these issues are happening in our society and we should all make it our business to stop forced marriages and we can be part of the solution and help reach young people. Forced marriage became a criminal offence in June 2014 but we still have a long way to go as many young people do not know it is against the law. Many people are tricked or misguided into thinking a forced marriage is part of tradition, culture or religion; it clearly is NOT; it is abuse. Cultural acceptance does not mean accepting the unacceptable and young people will be made to feel bad for going against their families but let me remind you that you are not doing anything wrong. I am now 50 and if I were 16 years old today I would make the same decision. I have had to fight for my independence

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and the right to choose who I wanted to marry and because of the decision I made back then my children will never have to inherit a legacy of abuse. I didn’t own this at 16 years old but I survived it and my message to young people is so can you, if you pick up a phone and break your silence. Karma Nirvana offer a confidential service on the helpline so if you or anyone else wants to talk things through then please pick up the phone and call 0800 5 999 247 and visit our website www. karmanirvana.org.uk, please start talking about these issues through our and your social networks. Whenever you talk about these issues you are breaking someone else’s silence and freeing another person from being chained in a forced marriage. It is difficult to explain what such a marriage looks like but let me end on this note, there is no consent in a forced marriage so this is not an arranged marriage. A forced marriage means marrying a stranger, and as you did not

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agree to it in the first place, it means being raped on your wedding night, and often you can be tricked into being taken abroad, and stranded there until you agree to the marriage. Then victims can be left there until it is time to come back to the UK and sponsor the person to Britain who you will have to live with as a means to secure a visa. The list goes on and on. The point is that you are locked into a marriage and once it happens it becomes harder to leave and the legacy of abuse continues. We at Karma Nirvana wish to help you and prevent this from happening in the first place, remember that you are never alone and it is your right not to be forced to marry.

Jasvinder Sanghera


Forced marriage warning as summer holidays approach

In the early part of this year alone, Foreign Office staff working abroad were called upon to provide assistance in 46 cases of forced marriage. Over half of those cases (52%) involved 1925 year olds and a third (33%) involved under 18s. The majority of cases involved females, but 15% of victims were male.

To raise awareness of the risks and the help available in the run-up to the summer holidays, three hard-hitting films have been developed. They remind young people to speak up if they think they or someone they are close to are in danger. The three short films can be viewed on YouTube;

forced marriage, and seek advice and help before potential victims are taken abroad.

Every day in the unit we see the devastating impact forced marriage has on individuals. Many of the victims who contact us have experienced horrendous sexual and physical violence. http://youtu.be/kJbND8seYhE They endure intense pressure in many Summer holidays are the peak time for forms – whether emotional, financial or The new Right to Choose campaign aims young people to be taken overseas and otherwise. Forced marriage affects many to stress that while it might be difficult forced into a marriage against their will. communities and cultures. to admit that you’re at risk, forced In some cases they are taken on what they have been told is a holiday to visit marriage can and does happen and Contact the Forced Marriage Unit for doing nothing is not the answer. We confidential advice before you travel‌ family abroad, but in fact a marriage want young people and professionals 020 7008 0151 has been planned. working with them to speak out about www.fco.gov.uk/forcedmarriage fmu@fco.gov.uk Twitter #righttochoose

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FORCED YOU HAVE A RIGHT TO CHOOSE…

If you or someone you know is being forced into a marriage, contact the FORCED MARRIAGE UNIT.

Call 020 7008 0151

Email fmu@fco.gov.uk

between 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday

The Forced Marriage Unit offers confidential support and information

If you would like to know more about the work of the Forced Marriage Unit before you call us, log on to: www.fco.gov.uk/forcedmarriage Confidential advice is also available from a large network of support groups, including The Police, the National Domestic Violence Helpline, and womens’ refuges nationwide.


Monday

Organisation Profile Forced Marriage Unit A Week in the Life of... Carla Thomas

The Forced Marriage Unit is the Government’s one stop shop for forced marriage policy, outreach and casework, handling around 1500 cases of a suspected or actual forced marriage each year. We asked Carla Thomas, Joint Head of the Forced Marriage Unit, to write a diary of a typical week in the office:

professionals likely to come into contact with victims of forced marriage, I get into the office at about 9am and and run her through how to spot the immediately take a helpline call from signs someone might be forced into a young woman from Bradford. She’s marriage: strict parents who don’t worried about her friend Henna who allow them to socialise, frequent serious has gone on holiday to Pakistan with arguments with their parents, or a trip her family and hasn’t returned. Henna’s overseas with no planned return date. 17 so will be starting her A-levels this year, but she’s already missed the start of term. The friend is still in contact with Henna through Facebook, so I ask her to pass on the phone number of the British High Commission in Islamabad. I then email my colleague Mariam in Islamabad to let her know Henna will be calling. Tuesday In the afternoon, I meet with a Finnish charity working on forced marriage On Tuesday I’m off to Leicester to and honour based violence. She speak at a community outreach event wants to learn more about the Forced on forced marriage arranged by a Marriage Unit’s training programme local charity. On the train on the way for professionals, with a view to there, I check my work emails and am doing something similar in Finland. I relieved to hear that Henna has made explain that we train police officers, contact with our team in Islamabad. social workers, teachers and other The news isn’t good: Henna is trapped

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in a house with no idea where she is, and her family are trying to convince her to marry her cousin. She’s tried to say she doesn’t want to go through with it, but her parents have told her she has to do it because of the shame she’ll bring on the family if she refuses. We offer to help Henna, but tell her we need to know where she is. The call gets cut off and we hope she’ll be able to call Mariam again. She’s using a cousin’s phone when she can, but she’s worried she will be found out. Once I arrive in Leicester I make my way to a local hall where the outreach event is taking place. I am speaking, along with the leaders of the charity organising it and staff at a local refuge. The focus is on the support that’s available for victims of forced marriage. I explain how we can help someone come back from overseas if they’re forced into marriage, and the refuge talk about how they provide safe accommodation for victims of forced marriage and abuse. It’s a really good event and I hope we’ve managed to reassure some of the audience that there

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is help available if they need it. Wednesday I have an early start on Wednesday as I have to do a breakfast radio interview with a local station in Newcastle. Luckily, our office building has a purpose built radio room so I don’t have to travel all the way up to Newcastle! The interviewer asks what the Government is doing about forced marriage, and I tell him we’re making it a criminal offence to force someone into marriage. He asks if that means we’ll call the police every time someone calls us. I tell him we won’t; just the same as now, it will be the victim’s choice whether or not to get the police involved. The early start means I’m at my desk by 8am, so I take the opportunity to call up Mariam in Islamabad and talk about our ongoing cases. Working with teams all around the world means you don’t often get to see your colleagues face to face,

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so it’s nice to at least talk by phone when you can. Mariam tells me that Henna has managed to find out where she is and luckily it’s only a couple of hours’ drive from the High Commission in Islamabad. Most of our cases tend to take place in areas of Kashmir which are over eight hours’ drive away, and require us to give two weeks’ notice to the Pakistani Government to visit. Because of this it normally takes about two weeks for us to plan a rescue, but as she’s so close the team in Islamabad can go and see Henna the next day. In the afternoon I take a number of calls on the helpline: a 19 year old student who’s worried about being forced into marriage after he’s told his dad he’s gay, a teacher from a school in Nottingham who has concerns about two girls in year nine who haven’t returned from a family trip to


Somalia, and a 23 year old woman who is being forced to sponsor the visa of her husband from India, after she was forced into marriage to him on a trip there a few months ago. I advise the teacher to speak to social services about the students, tell the student about charities and safe houses for LGBT young people, and advise the 23 year old on how to withdraw sponsorship for a visa. It’s a busy afternoon, but I’m pleased we’ve been able to help so many people!

would now be on their guard. It wasn’t an easy decision, but Henna decided to leave with Mariam and the team. The scene at the house was very difficult, with family members crying and shouting, so it was a relief to be away. Once she was safe in the car back to the High Commission, Henna told Mariam that she had been badly beaten by her brother last night after telling him she wouldn’t go through with the marriage, and had been desperate to escape. We were relieved we’d got there before things got Thursday any worse as it seemed like Henna was in serious danger. Once back in Islamabad As soon as I get into the office on Thursday Mariam took Henna to our refuge. It’s a morning I get a call from Mariam about safe house run by a local charity, where the rescue. They travelled with local police we can be certain to the house where Henna was being held and found it without too much difficulty, and after a long discussion with the family were eventually allowed in to see Henna. Mariam spoke to Henna alone and explained that she could come with her now and find her a safe place to stay, but it would be difficult for them to come back again before the wedding as her family

our victims are safe and supported while they’re waiting to come home. Henna had to flee the house without her passport, so the team start making arrangements to print an emergency travel document to allow her to get home. Now the team in Islamabad have played their part, it’s my job to arrange a flight home and support for Henna in the UK. Friday At the end of a busy week, we spend some time catching up in the office having a team meeting. Through the week our team of seven have taken thirty calls to our public helpline, resolved four cases overseas and two in the UK, and done outreach events in Leicester, Birmingham and Glasgow. Henna’s flight is now booked for Monday, so I quickly call up a charity we work with to ensure she can be supported on her return to the UK. We agree that she will be met off the flight by a social worker and escorted out through a safe

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exit just in case any family members were waiting. Once through security and immigration, she could meet a worker from the charity who would take her to safe accommodation in a refuge. Just before I leave, I post on twitter that we’re closing for the weekend, but help is available through our out of hour’s service. With that done, it’s the end of another busy week for the Forced Marriage Unit! For more information and assistance: • Telephone: 020 7008 0151 • Email: fmu@fco.gov.uk • Email for outreach work: fmuoutreach@ fco.gov.uk • Facebook: www.facebook.com/ forcedmarriage • Twitter: @FMUnit

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KARMA NIRVANA

SCHOOLS PROJECT Hello my name is Anna Kaur. I’m 22 years old and my mum is a survivor of a Forced Marriage. I guess I would say I am like any other 22 year old who loves going out with my friends, going to the cinema and having fun. But now it’s my turn to make a difference. I have been a volunteer for Karma Nirvana for over 5 years and was recently recruited to help put together a young person’s project.

these issues should be dealt as a child protection issue, and not to be sidestepped cautiously as a cultural issue as it’s not in anyone’s culture to be abused. Our presentation is a great way for your school and college to show their commitment in tackling abuse against children which is not acceptable. If you are interested in this service then please get in touch with me on ypo@karmanirvana. org.uk

Karma Nirvana have been supported by the Forced Marriage Unit and West I will help your voice to be Yorkshire’s Police Crime heard and believed. Commissioner to raise awareness in schools and colleges. From my experience and training with Karma Nirvana, I can say with conviction that

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Anna Kaur

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Alisha Begum murdered age 6

Birmingham Coventry

Sahjdar Bibi

murdered age 21

Oxford London

Surjit Athwal

murdered age 27

Arash Ghorbani - Zarin murdered age 19

Banaz Mahmod Geeta Aulakh

Naziat Khan

murdered age 28

murdered age 38

Uzma & Saif

murdered age 30 & 31

Tulay Goren

murdered age 15

Navjeet Sidhu, Simran & Aman

murdered age 27, 5 & 23

Heshu Yones

murdered age 16

Shawbo Ali Rauf murdered age 19

Sobia Rania

Samaira Nazir

murdered age 19

Caneze Riaz, and her daughters

murdered age 25

Glasgow

murdered age 39, 16, 13, 10 & 3

Laura Wilson

murdered age 17

Rukhsana Naz murdered age 19

Leeds

Accrington

Rania Alayed

murdered age 25

Manchester Warrington

Shafilea Ahmed

Rotherham

Robina Kaur

murdered age 17

murdered age 26

Derby

Alisha Begum murdered age 6

Birmingham Coventry

Sahjdar Bibi

murdered age 21

Oxford London

Surjit Athwal

murdered age 27

Arash Ghorbani - Zarin murdered age 19

Banaz Mahmod Geeta Aulakh

Naziat Khan

murdered age 28

murdered age 38

Tulay Goren

murdered age 15

Navjeet Sidhu, Simran & Aman

murdered age 27, 5 & 23

Heshu Yones

murdered age 16

Shawbo Ali Rauf murdered age 19

Samaira Nazir

murdered age 25


The Death of my Tears My emotions live only to be harmed I want none other but you and yet I want you not the same Silently confiding my sadness in you from a distance How my eyes long for the affection now concealed behind a demeanour so cold As I relieve the nights of a tortured soul My heart tells me you are still my love and yet my wounds tell me it is not so I would forget it all if you would merely change Lying to myself so that I can believe your tragic lies So helpless as I see my hopes blown around like a cloud beneath the seven skies How much you have taken of me. Yesterday you promised me a thousand promises Yet once more you break me into a thousand tears I plead with you not to scream as you proceed to beat me I’m scared, can you not see? I’m scared and only my heart stands witness For what fault of mine are you punishing me? Your strikes almost meaningless whilst I tremble in fear My body feels no pain as I die a little more inside No one to hear my cries as I realise I’m alone just as I was yesterday There’s nowhere for me to turn so I close my eyes and pray.

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I wonder what’s on your mind; I wonder if you wonder what’s on mine I can’t sleep through a pain so deep and real Enough. I can cope no more. I searched for a way out but the weakness in my heart stopped me As I stare at the cup in my hand and bring the poison closer to my lips Imagining you lamenting at my soon to be corpse laying on the floor Till death do us part, and so I shall choose to suffer no more.

poetry

I spoke to my soul as it lay so tormented in your hands The true hurt begins the moment your violence stops. Was it not enough that you saw fear in my eyes? My bruises could not begin to describe how I feel inside Why would you do this to me? This was never what I chose to be

When I cease to breathe maybe you would acknowledge my existence I would not see it but maybe you would wipe my tears I want not feel it but maybe you would kiss me after all these years I would not hear it but maybe you would say sorry And I would not know it but maybe someone would relate to me and learn from the mistakes upon the pages of my story. Nour Domestic Violence www.nour-dv.org.uk 0208 904 8193

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Recipes Ingredients:

Hot-Smoked Salmon Salad with a Chilli Lemon Dressing

• 500g new potatoes, halved • 200g pack asparagus tips • 250g bag mixed salad leaves (including young beetroot leaves and watercress) • Bunch each of parsley and mint, leaves picked and roughly chopped • 140g radish, thinly sliced • 8 x hot-smoked salmon steaks, skin removed • 4 spring onion, sliced diagonally

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For the dressing 3 tbsp lemon juice 125ml olive oil 1 tsp wholegrain mustard 2 red chillies

and then spread the salad over a large platter. Break the hotsmoked salmon into large chunks, then scatter over the top along with the spring onions. Finish by pouring remaining dressing over the top.

Method Boil potatoes in salted water for 10 mins until tender, adding the asparagus tips for the final 2 mins of cooking. Drain and allow to cool. Whisk together the salad dressing ingredients. Then season to taste. In a large bowl, toss together the potatoes, asparagus, salad leaves, herbs and radishes. Add two-thirds of the dressing, thoroughly mix through the salad,

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Birmingham

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Arabic, Study Circles, Qur’anic Studies for both Brothers & Sisters, varies days & times

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FIFTEEN21 Issue 27 Out Friday 29th April 2016!


Fifteen21 issue 26  
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