Dishonourable Violence

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Dishonourable Violence Changing the Narratives on Honour and Shame Among Muslim Canadian Communities



ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Principal Researcher & Author: Nadine Ijaz


Reyhana Patel Khalid Roy Islamic Relief Canada would also like to thank the following individuals who advised on, or contributed to, the development of this research study: Asma Riaz, Hassam Munir, Nora Shamroukh, Aysha Syed, Aminna Syed

Use of this manual:

© Copyright Islamic Relief Canada March 2019 Photography © Islamic Relief Canada Designed by: Sidrah Khatoon The pictures in this report do not depict any participants in this field study.



FOREWORD Islamic Relief Canada’s Commitment to Eradicating Gender-Based Violence

Reyhana Patel | Islamic Relief Canada

Islamic Relief Canada (IRC) is one of Canada’s largest Muslim NGOs, with the primary aim of alleviating global poverty and suffering, irrespective of religion, ethnicity or gender. Much of our work over the last decade has focused on eradicating the structural and systemic causes of poverty. In addition to our direct anti-poverty work, Islamic Relief Canada is increasing its focus on addressing some of the social and cultural drivers of poverty and suffering; especially where these are related to pseudo-religious justifications used to condone practices that lead to poverty, suffering and oppression. Worldwide, as well as in Canada, genderbased violence (GBV) continues to be a major social problem which often causes unspoken harm in violation of a person’s fundamental human rights to life, liberty and security. Gender-based violence takes many forms, including emotional/psychological damage, financial pressure, and physical and sexual violence. It can be perpetrated by individuals or families, and it is rooted in cultural systems of male dominance.

Across the globe, it is women and girls who are disproportionately impacted by gender-based violence, which is most commonly enacted by men. This is not to say that men, themselves, cannot also be victims of GBV, violence and oppression – but, typically, it is a much rarer occurrence and the power dynamics surrounding these cases are different from those where women are victims. For example, a man subjected to GBV may typically receive much more sympathy and support from society and he also may have greater financial and cultural options to resolve his predicament. Islamic Relief Canada believes that gender-based violence, in any of its forms, has no religious or cultural justification and must be brought to an end. Although gender-based violence is widespread across all cultural and religious groups, we believe that Islam, properly constituted, condemns all such abuse. The Holy Qur’an promotes equality of men and women, including in marriage, and Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, always treated women and girls with the utmost respect and dignity.

And one of His signs is that He created for you spouses from among yourselves so that you may find comfort in them. And He has placed between you compassion and mercy. Surely in this are signs for people who reflect. (Qu’ran 30:21) People, be mindful of your Lord, who created you out of a single soul, and out of it created its mate, and out of the two spread countless men and women. Remain mindful of God, in whose name you make requests of one another and beware of severing ties of kinship. God is always watching over you. (Qu’ran 4:1)



The Local and Global Problem of Gender-Based Violence Violence against women and girls, including within the family context, is a major human rights and gender justice issue in North America and across the world. Such is its importance that the United Nations thematized the issue in the fifth Sustainable Development Goal (SDG5) as a target to be pursued. Across the globe, over one-third of women are known to experience physical and/or sexual abuse from an intimate partner during their lives. Adding to the overall prevalence is the fact that sexual abuse can take either, or both, physical and emotional forms – which sometimes makes the abuse harder to recognise. In high-income countries such as Canada and the United States, abuse figures are closer to 21%. 14% of Canadians, the vast majority of them women, have experienced ‘emotional abuse from a spouse or common-law partner’ and, on average, 172 Canadian women are killed by their intimate partner or spouse every year (Fam Viol Rept citation 85). Violence against women and gender-based violence takes many different forms, but the most common feature is that it is predominantly inflicted by men. As noted, GBV may, for example, involve abuse that is physical, sexual and/or emotional – which, in itself, can take the form of verbal, psychological or spiritual abuse.


It may also involve neglect, shaming, manipulation, control of a woman’s migration status, or genital cutting and forced marriage. The abuse can also be ‘indirect’ by targeting a child or family member dear to the woman in question. Furthermore, and in some instances, more than one type of abuse may be present. And when the abuse takes place within a family or personal relationship, it may often be perpetrated by a spouse or intimate partner and/or by extended family member(s). In contrast to other types of violence, GBV is distinguished by the power dynamics that surround it, rooted in patriarchal beliefs and cultural ideals that position men as dominant and women as subordinate. Patriarchal belief systems are not unique to any one culture or religious interpretation but take different forms in different settings. As such, GBV may also take different forms across different cultural and religious groups; and various cultural and religious justifications may be given for the occurrence of GBV across different settings. These may also include a total denial of GBV as an identifiable phenomenon.


Islamic Relief Canada takes an unequivocal stance against GBV in all its forms and has taken on the task of contributing towards GBV’s eradication. This study was conducted as part of our commitment towards the eradication of GBV, both in Canada and internationally. This report is the result of Islamic Relief Canada’s research work on addressing GBV in Canadian Muslim families, and it represents one such contribution to bringing GBV to an end. This study has involved an extensive literature review on the prevalence and causes of GBV internationally and in Canada – and, in particular, how it affects Muslim Canadian women in the family context. While it is clear that Muslim Canadian women do experience GBV within their family contexts (as in other settings), only a few notably pioneering studies and initiatives have explored how this might be best addressed and/or prevented. Moreover, existing research points to an understandable hesitation on the part of many Muslim women to speak about their own experiences of GBV, or to reach out for help and support. Such hesitation to disclose abuse or seek help is certainly not unique to Muslim women – either in Canada or elsewhere – given the broader patriarchal and cultural contexts within which all GBV occurs.

Among Muslim women, however, such hesitation has been described in the literature as possibly more pronounced than within some other groups, and this has been attributed to four interrelated barriers many Muslim women are known to face in this context: •

A concern that reporting their experiences of GBV to a healthcare provider, social service agency or the police might depict Muslims in a disproportionally unfavourable light – and this is considered undesirable and generally ‘disloyal’ given the widespread presence of Islamophobia in Canada and elsewhere.

A worry that social service providers might not understand or respond appropriately to Muslim women’s own specific cultural and religious perspectives.

A wish to stay connected with (rather than be separated from) family – their primary source of security and cultural safety – which is further reinforced by already being members of a minority religious/ cultural group.

A fear that exposing abuse would cause them, or their husbands, to be seen as dishonoured or dishonourable within their own often ‘collectivist’ families and communities.



Other factors complicating the prevention and delivery of appropriate responses to GBV in Muslim families have to do with sociocultural and mental health factors that may predispose some men to abusive behaviour. For example, among some immigrant and refugee Muslim men, experiences of war or political oppression prior to arriving in Canada, underemployment due to not having relevant foreign credentials and work experience recognized here in Canada, and ongoing experiences of racism and Islamophobia have all been identified as contributing factors towards possible oppressive behaviour to those within their circles of control.

In general, we consider these to be important early initiatives that directly address some of the barriers identified above. By studying these services and resources, Islamic Relief Canada’s research aims to learn more about, and share credible practice and information surrounding effective, religiously and culturally-safe approaches to addressing and preventing GBV among Muslim Canadians. The hope is that this is a discussion which will help shape delivery of additional services, resources and policies both within and beyond Canada.

This recognition of general powerlessness and alienation among immigrant Muslim men is not meant to justify any instances of GBV, but rather to position it within a broader context of causal factors that need addressing. It is clear from the literature that social service providers and agencies in Canada and elsewhere have made strenuous efforts in recent years to improve delivery of care that is culturally appropriate and safe to Muslim women and others. While Islamic Relief Canada supports all such efforts, the findings of this report show that - in respect of the aforementioned barriers - much work still remains to be done to effectively prevent and address GBV within some Muslim Canadian families. In the early stages of our research, Islamic Relief Canada identified a number of services and resources created from within the Muslim Canadian community, geared towards, or with particular expertise in, addressing GBV.



Cultural Safety Cultural safety is an idea that is increasingly important in the delivery of healthcare and social services across several nations. It is based on a recognition that healthcare and social services are always delivered from a particular ‘cultural’ standpoint and set of values often representing the perspectives of the dominant group(s) within a social matrix. In multicultural countries like Canada, culturally-safe services are those that: a) reflect and respect the distinct needs of diverse populations; and b) recognize and address the oppressive (historical and ongoing) power dynamics that are present between - and within - majority and minority ethnic sectors within society.

Collectivist Cultures Many (though not all) Muslims in Canada originate from collectivist cultural contexts. As Baobaid and Ashbourne (2016) note, ‘Collectivist societies exist in many parts of the word, including Africa, the Middle East, Asia, South America and the Pacific, as well as in minority communities that exist within broader individualist societies’ (like Canada). In a collectivist worldview, the overall interests of the family and community supersede those of the individual. In collectivist cultures, the ‘reputation or standing’ of the entire community or family depends upon the ‘behaviour of its members’ (Baobaid and Ashbourne 2016). Within these perspectives, individuals may well sacrifice their own specific interests to preserve the apparent harmony of the whole.

Family Honour The concept of ‘family honour’ represents a crucial cultural value in many collectivist societies - as well as in some individualist settings. Ideals of honour generally serve to hold societies together by encouraging adherence to particular cultural norms. The concept of ‘defending honour’ has certain advantages, including conferring a sense of ‘dignity and integrity’ when one conforms to the main, as well as conveying a strong feeling of ‘belonging’ (Eshareturn et al 2014). However, notions of collective honour may also be abused and used to justify oppressive or violent behaviour against an individual or minority group.



Methodology With the aim of helping to contribute to the prevention of GBV among Muslim Canadian families, Islamic Relief Canada undertook an extensive literature review as well as a series of qualitative interviews as described below. The findings were then analysed in relation to the study objectives and are presented here in summary form for this report.

Study Objectives •

To examine ways in which cultural and religious beliefs, including the concept of ‘defending honour’, may be addressed through community action, religious education, grassroots advocacy and effective service delivery.

To review existing governmental and non-governmental GBV services and resources for Muslims in Canada and identify best practices.


To d e ve l o p p o l i c y p o s i t i o n s , recommendations and key advocacy pointers in relation to the above.

Fieldwork Islamic Relief Canada’s research team received ethics approval from the Community Research Ethics Board in Waterloo, Ontario, to conduct interviews with community leaders and social service providers working to address and prevent GBV among Muslim families in Canada. Over the period of January–July 2018, the team conducted a total of 18 confidential interviews with a range of people involved in the delivery of services for Muslim Canadian women who have experienced gender-based violence. Those interviewed included social service professionals (such as social workers and counsellors), community organizers, members of non-profit organizations, and Muslim religious leaders (Imams). Interviews typically lasted between 60 and 90 minutes. In a majority of cases the interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed for analysis; however, where consent was not given to this effect, detailed field notes were taken during and after the interview.


Using a semi-structured interview guide, the principal researcher asked participants to elaborate upon their own involvement in service delivery for Muslim Canadian women who experience gender-based violence. More specifically, they were asked about the rationale for their involvement, the types of services in which they had been involved, their specific roles, as well as successes and challenges experienced. In addition, they were asked about their understanding of, and approaches, to addressing issues (such as honour and collectivist family contexts) specifically related to culture and/or religion. The principal researcher applied a thematic analytic approach (Braun & Clarke) to analyse the content and themes evident across the study interviews. The results of this analysis are presented in this report using anonymous verbatim quotes from study participants in order to illustrate key findings. The aim is to provide the reader with first-hand knowledge of those working on the front lines around GBV issues within Canada’s Muslim communities.





Reading Verse 4:34 - Does the Qu’ran really advocate spousal abuse? In the Muslim community, the consensus of scholars is that Islam condemns all forms of emotional and physical domestic abuse wherever it may occur. Across the globe, however, there are many traditional sections of the Muslim community which believe that spousal abuse is legitimized by the Qu’ran under certain circumstances. This perception arises from Verse 4:34 in the Qu’ran which can be translated as follows: ‘Men are the protectors and maintainers of women because God has given the one more (strength) than the other and because they support them from their means. Therefore, the righteous women are devoutly obedient and guard in (the husband’s) absence what God would have them guard. ‘As from those whom you fear ill-conduct [first] advise them, [then] forsake their beds, and [finally] separate from them [‘idribuhunna’ - separate / shun / beat / bed them]; but if they pay heed, then do not seek a way against them. Indeed, God is Most High, The Greatest’ Qu’ran: 4:34 (parenthesis added) The key word here in Arabic is ‘idribuhunna’ which carries numerous meanings – some of which are given in parenthesis above; (separate / shun / beat / bed them). Given the traditions of the time, some medieval Islamic scholarship has generally chosen to understand the word as ‘beat’ – and this, regrettably, remains the orthodox mainstream position (although almost always qualified by the word ‘lightly’ even in medieval times). Increasingly, however, some contemporary Islamic scholars argue that the word ‘idribuhunna’ when used correctly and in the context of the verse actually means ‘to shun them’, or ‘to turn away from them’, or, ‘to separate from them’.



Their reasoning is based upon the correct grammatical use of the word, the example of the Prophet as being known never to have struck any woman or child, and also upon the general exhortation in the Qu’ran that consistently calls for harmony and reconciliation between married couples: ‘And among His signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that you may dwell in tranquillity with them and He has put love and mercy between your hearts; verily in that are signs for those who reflect.’ (30:21) ‘They [spouses] are clothing for you and you are clothing for them.’ (2:187) ‘But consort with them in kindness, for if you hate them it may happen that you hate a thing wherein God has placed much good.’ (4:19) These Qu’ranic exhortations stand in stark contrast to ‘beating’ being any part of a marriage partnership. And this loving standard is further embodied by the Prophetic example itself through the reported affirmation that: “The best of you is the best to his family and I am the best among you to my family”, and that, “The most perfect believers are the best in conduct and best of you are those who are best to their wives.”



Tragically, and despite all the evidence and divine counsel such as that given above, domestic violence is still disturbingly – and unacceptably – prevalent within Muslim families and Muslim societies. We should be clear, however, that while there are inevitably many sociological reasons for its occurrence (such as autocracy, poverty, etc.), any justification for domestic violence on religious grounds relies almost exclusively upon one key word within a Qu’ranic verse (‘idribuhunna’) being understood as ‘beat’ - rather than as ‘shun’ or ‘separate’ (from a spouse). Based on the above interpretations and understanding of the Qu’ran, all Muslims should reject any notion of domestic violence and spousal abuse within Islam. They should also not fear the process of reinterpretation and re-appraisal of the Qu’ran since our collective understanding and learning are encouraged by the Qu’ran itself, when it says:

“Those who listen to the Word then follow the best of it; those are they whom God has guided, and those it is who are the men of understanding”. (39:18)



Honour and Violence Islamic Relief Canada rejects the widespread framing of gender-based violence (also known as abuse) in Muslim families as ‘honour-based’ violence. For Muslims, honour comes from compassion, respect and kindness towards all members of our families and broader communities. Any Muslim who attempts to justify abuse in the name of family honour betrays the spirit and letter of Islam. Equally problematic is the use of the ‘honour’ concept to accentuate gender-based abuse among Muslims as phenomenon unique to the world. Such a characterization not only promotes an Islamophobic outlook, but also minimizes the widespread gender-based abuse taking place in non-Muslim communities - which is also culturally articulated and equally destructive.



Types of Gender-Based Abuse in Muslim Family Contexts

Psychological/ Emotional • • •

• • • •

Coercion, insults, belittlement, intimidation, shaming Threats of divorce and social exclusion Activities monitored and/or restricted (e.g., leaving the home, socializing with friends, working outside the home, clothing choices) Threats (e.g., of physical violence, second marriage, leaving the marriage, kidnapping the children, spreading lies to harm the woman’s reputation) Undermining relationships with children, family members, friends, and community leaders Silencing/criticizing, or refusal to discuss/consider, the woman’s views Lying and slandering (e.g., to the woman, and/or about women to others in family or community) Religious blackmail (use and interpretation of religious texts to justify a male-dominant view)


Physical • • • • • • •

Hitting/slapping, pushing, punching, kicking, burning, pulling hair Locking the woman inside or outside home Insufficient access to clothing, food and shelter Femicide, infanticide Female genital mutilation/cutting Isolating a woman within an extended family setting Severe dress codes justified though exaggerated religious interpretations or the man demanding that the woman wear ‘Western’ styled clothing. Beating or threatening children

• • • • • •

Being forced to engage in unwanted sexual activity Sexually violent behaviour The woman denied control over reproductive matters (such as contraception) Being forced to watch pornography Complications arising from female genital mutilation/cutting Forced marriage, child marriage

Source: (Blum et al 2016, Gill & Brah 2013, Finfgeld-Confett 2013, Alkhateeb, Latif 2011 in Idriss & Abbas)



Economic • •


Withdrawal of financial support Being denied access to finances or being given a strict ‘allowance’ that does not adequately meet needs Having spending habits excessively scrutinized or criticized The woman required to hand over her earnings Denial of educational or career opportunities

• • •

• • • •

The woman locked inside the home Daily activities restricted (e.g., requiring permission for phone calls, grocery shopping) Social activities restricted (e.g., contact with family, friends, children) Denial of access to healthcare and social services

Control of Legal / Migration Status • • • • • •

Forced marriage, child marriage Confiscation of legal documents (e.g., passports) Denial of access to immigration information and paperwork Delay of immigration/permanent residency process Threats to ‘send back to home country’ if abuse not tolerated or the man’s demands not met Transnational abandonment (immigration/sponsorship papers never sent to home country, or woman taken back to native country and deserted)

Spiritual / Religious • • • • •

Manipulation of religious or spiritual teachings to justify abuse Misinterpretations of Qur’an and hadith that are used to encourage abuse Reinforcing environment of fear and control The woman chastised or criticized using religious/spiritual language The woman stopped from pursuing her own religious/spiritual path

Source: (Blum et al 2016, Gill & Brah 2013, Finfgeld-Confett 2013, Alkhateeb, Latif 2011 in Idriss & Abbas)




Organizations Leading Service Delivery For Muslim Women Below, we provide an overview of the work of some of the Canadian organizations involved in generally excellent work addressing gender-based violence in Muslim families. This is not meant as an exhaustive list; rather, it provides a brief description of the range of responses taken by various stakeholders.

Amal Centre, Montreal (QC) Founded in 2002, the Amal Centre’s mission is to support Muslim women impacted by domestic abuse. The Amal Centre’s ‘Dialogue Approach to Ending Violence Against Muslim Women’ aims to build bridges across existing service delivery silos to promote provision of culturally and religiously appropriate abuse prevention and response strategies. The Centre provides short and long-term counselling (including crisis and psychosocial support) to Muslim women in English, French, and Arabic; and facilitates outreach with other relevant social and legal services in the community. In 2016, the Centre undertook a detailed survey of local Muslim women and men, as well as social workers serving the community, to assess needs related to violence against women. On this basis, the Centre recently partnered with Imams at local mosques - who often play a key role in counselling and guiding Muslim families - to develop a reference toolkit to help them support women experiencing violence in their homes. The Amal Centre’s counselling services, outreach strategies, and partnership with Imams represent viable models for similar interventions to be created in other communities.

Canadian Council of Muslim Women (CCMW) Since its founding in 1983, the CCMW has actively advocated for ‘Equity, equality and empowerment for all Canadian Muslim women’. Over the years, CCMW has conducted research, and produced various reports, position papers, fact sheets and awareness-raising videos on violence against Muslim women. Most recently, in 2016 and 2017, CCMW developed two practical toolkits for Muslims in this area: 1) to develop ‘strategies for crafting a community response to violence against women’; and 2) to engage Muslim men and boys in discussion towards preventing domestic violence.



Muslim Resource Centre for Social Support and Integration (MRCSSI), London (ON) The work of MRCSSI, a community-based organization facilitating culturally-integrative service delivery for Muslim families experiencing conflict, violence and trauma in the London (Ontario) area, has unfolded over the last two decades through extensive research and practice. At the core of MRCSSI’s service is ‘the need to develop more culturally meaningful responses to domestic violence’. As respected community partners, MRCSSI’s clinicians and social service professionals have developed relationships with the region’s police service child protection agency, as well as local religious leaders (e.g., Imams), to facilitate ‘culturally meaningful responses to domestic violence’. MRCSSI’s work as a viable service delivery model has been formally documented in a recent book. In addition, MRCSSI has spearheaded other community-based projects to prevent violence against women, including: the ‘Reclaim Honour’ project, a youth-driven program facilitating workshops and community conversations on gender-based violence with other Muslim youth and social service providers; the ‘Family Honour Project’, a gender-based violence prevention project for Muslim families based on Chicago’s ‘Cure Violence’ program.

Nisa Helpline, Vancouver (BC) Nisa Helpline (1.888.315.NISA), launched in 2014, is North America’s first peer-to-peer counselling hotline for Muslim women. The Helpline is available free of charge to women all across Canada as well as in the United States. Staffed by trained volunteers seven days a week, 12 hours each day, Nisa Helpline provides confidential, non-judgmental and religiouslygrounded support that is also culturally-sensitive on a wide range of issues including domestic abuse, family dynamics and mental health. As a project of the international Muslim organization Mercy Mission, Nisa Helpline aims to expand internationally as a model of telephone peer-topeer support among Muslim women.



Nisa Homes, Mississauga and Windsor (ON), Surrey (BC) As Canada’s largest transitional shelter specifically for Muslim women (and children), Nisa Homes provides a ‘safe haven for women experiencing domestic violence, poverty, homelessness or seeking asylum.’ Founded in 2014 as a project of the National Zakat Foundation, Nisa Homes has served over 150 women at Mississauga (Ontario) and Surrey (British Columbia) houses, and has recently opened a third home in Windsor, Ontario. At the shelters, women are provided with food, transportation assistance, counselling and emotional support, assistance with accessing other social services, and spiritual support as they transition towards independence and self-sufficiency. As there is often a waiting list for accommodation, Nisa Homes ultimately aims to make more spaces available in future to address the unique needs of Muslim women seeking shelter.


GBV and the Muslim Community in Canada Across our study interviews, community leaders, organizers and social service workers repeatedly alluded to the broader context in which they were delivering gender-based violence services for Muslim women in Canada. Here is an overview of several distinct contextual factors that interviewees commonly addressed - which establish the backdrop for our more specific findings in this report.

“It’s not that Islam causes people to’s that some people who abuse use Islam to justify it.” - Interviewee



Collectivist Cultural Contexts Several study interviewees spoke of the collectivist cultural settings that are common among Muslim communities (in Canada and elsewhere), and the specific advantages and disadvantages associated with addressing GBV in this respect. For example:

“As an organization, we recognize how for many Muslims, gender-based violence happens within collectivist cultural contexts, there’s particular dynamics to that. There can be risk factors in terms of the whole collective shaming, normalizing or providing justifications for violence. But in a collectivist context there may also be protective factors, because you can draw on extended family members to advocate for safety as well.” Leaders and service professionals from some organizations addressed, in particular, the relevance of a ‘family-focused’ approach to GBV-related service which, while centralizing women’s safety, seeks to address accountability and education for men as well as engage other family and community members involved - rather than just working with individual women in isolation. One interviewee said:

“While women’s safety is our central focus, we take a family-focused approach. So, it’s not about isolating perpetrators or family members or community members but thinking about how you engage with them to strengthen safety for women and reduce risk factors. Our aim is to create safety for women and girls within this context, without necessarily isolating men in our response.”



A Family-Based Approach As some study interviewees noted, such an integrated (rather than isolating) approach is in some ways at odds with dominant Canadian conventions in GBV-service delivery. That said, these professionals argued that this ‘family-focused’ approach, taken by some Muslimfocused organizations in our study, provides more sustainable and safe outcomes for women in collectivist family/cultural contexts:

“In the mainstream context, when there is gender-based violence, the tendency is basically towards separation - and for safety, that may sometimes be necessary. But separation without engaging men or family members or a community in the response may not really lead to change in terms of long term or sustainable safety. So that engagement is really important to hold perpetrators of violence accountable, and ensure they’re not isolated in any response or process – which can actually increase the risk.” Aiming to optimize specific protective factors from within collectivist family contexts, such an approach – which aims to affirm women’s dignity and safety within structured family hierarchies – differs in its underpinnings from what is common among GBV services conceptualized from within an individualistic (or Eurocentric) feminist framework:

“Here in Canada or even Europe, especially in the anti-violence sector, there’s a particular feminist lens and there’s a particular language. Some of our work is recognizing that within a collectivist context the values may not sound like or use the language of feminism. But there may be protective factors there. There are values within a collectivist context and within a faith context that clearly stand against violence. An elder person, like an older brother or an uncle, can play a really positive role in reinforcing positive norms, and expectations of what healthy families look like.”





Migration and Migration Trauma Several study participants noted that many Muslims in Canada are relatively recent immigrants or refugees and addressed the complex relationships between migration, migration traumas and GBV. In some cases, there is a need to interweave GBV-related services with newcomer integration services:

“There’s been such a high influx of newcomer families and families coming with pre-migration traumas or coming from conflict zones. That has really reshaped the way we are with individuals and with families because there’s also an integration component as well as addressing family violence or gender-based violence.” In addition, GBV services delivered by the organizations studied commonly address the interplay between migration trauma, psychological distress, and family violence:

“When families migrate to North America or to the U.K., to contexts where they encounter different forms of repression and racism, that can play out in the family in variously violent ways, whether it’s emotional or physical or socio-cultural violence. There is a shakeup in the family that results in some distress for the members.”

Such organizations, in implementing a range of supports for abused Muslim women, also prioritize trauma support for Muslim men who are perpetrators of violence:

“In newcomer families, we may have situations where there is violence or abuse of women and children present. The husband who is using violence may have experienced his own trauma because of conflict and is also suffering. I don’t say this to minimize violence or the risk of violence, or to minimize the need of safety for women. But it adds complexity, multiple layers, to the work of how to ensure safety.”



Our study participants emphasized that for some abused newcomer Muslim women, the prospect of being displaced from her home and family after reporting violence could itself be experienced as deeply traumatic:

“We have to recognize that when you’ve migrated to a new country, whether it’s under immigration law or as a refugee or maybe you’re here as a nonstatus person, then migration and movement is a displacing encounter. It comes with lots of fear and anxiety and possibilities of other forms of violence. For a woman experiencing abuse at home, the idea of leaving her home situation can be very difficult.”



Islamophobia and Cultural Marginality Study interviewees spoke repeatedly to the interplay between GBV-service delivery and the broader contexts of Islamophobia and Muslim women’s cultural marginality in Canada. One issue that several participants discussed was the problematic widespread framing of so-called ‘honour-based’ or ‘honour-related’ violence as a unique type of crime, rather than as a culturally-expressed manifestation of a GBV phenomenon that impacts women from across ethnic, cultural and religious groups. As one community leader explained:

“There’s been obviously a lot greater cultural awareness in service providers, but services exist within a wider social and cultural context where Islam is often seen as a negative. When you talk about gender-based violence, the idea of ‘honour based violence’ became such a profound topic within North America and Europe... it was seen as this ‘other’ form of gender based violence from what everyone experiences. There are all these stereotypes and misconceptions around faith and culture – it’s part of a wider Islamophobia.” Another social service professional, who had worked in a government-funded Canadian setting serving a high proportion of Muslim women, spoke of her ongoing experiences of Islamophobia in interfacing with other parts of the social service system:

“In my counselling work I had to deal a lot with lawyers, and I found a lot of the times lawyers engaging with very toxic conversations about the Muslim religion. Many times, I was doing the translation in these moments, as these lawyers didn’t have a translator available. I’d be sitting in these meetings and they would say, well you know what your religion is telling you is wrong, and I would feel very conflicted to translate exactly what they were saying. That would put even more work on us to deconstruct what happened in those meetings so that women don’t walk away feeling more traumatized.”



In addition, some study interviewees spoke to structural factors within state-funded and other dominant-culture Canadian GBV services that created additional barriers for Muslim women from collectivist cultural contexts, who may also have recently migrated to Canada or were otherwise in a position of cultural marginality:

“Some agencies were saying, well you have to have left the situation of violence for us to support you. Or you must have a plan to leave the situation of violence. And that is an incredible barrier when you’re working with racialized women who, a) have been migrated here under their partners or families that are engaging in violence; and b) they may not believe in leaving a situation of violence as the best decision or choice.” Another social service professional echoed this perspective, emphasizing how challenging it might be for an abused Muslim woman, living in a community in which she felt otherwise culturally safe and at home, to find good options to relocate, even in the face of severe violence:

“They might not want to leave their home and neighbourhood even though it was the space of violence for them. They could go to the store. They could find food that they recognized. The mosque was right there. Their community was there. The school was right there. There was a lot of fear of leaving the boundaries of the community. We would suggest, there’s a women’s shelter in [name of city] that does support Muslim women, there’s was a sense of..... “I’d rather live in this violence than be completely displaced again.”



Cultural Stigmas around GBV Several study participants alluded to ongoing cultural stigma and a sense of pervasive silence within many Canadian Muslim communities as to the occurrence of GBV – an issue that this report also addresses. Community leaders, organizers and social service professionals alike agreed that bringing the issue of GBV to the fore in conversations among Canadian Muslims would be key to both preventing and addressing this problem:

“The first step is breaking the silence....bringing these conversations out from under the rug, from behind slamming doors. I think we need to be vocal about the fact that these are not Muslim problems, but they do happen among Muslims. I think that’s the first step. We need to have these conversations repeatedly, amongst ourselves, and with others. We need to do that at a bigger level, at a smaller level, at the table.”



The Role of Community-Based GBV Services for Muslim Canadian Women Across the study interviews, community leaders, organizers and social service professionals detailed a wide range of GBV-related services that address multiple considerations which are in place at the community level. These services were generally operated by Muslim Canadian non-profit organizations, rather than state-funded, although most organizations described extensive networks and interfacing between their own services and mainstream GBV services. Services included educational initiatives geared to GBV prevention among Muslim men and boys, an anonymous Muslim-specific telephone helpline, and individual and couples’ counselling by religious leaders (Imams) as well as support by social service professionals. In addition, there are Muslim-specific shelters and transition homes, long-term mentorship programs for GBV survivors, and finally bridging networks and ‘cultural brokering’ services between Muslim-specific community service organizations and mainstream social services such as police, shelters, The Children’s Aid Society, and other GBV-specific service agencies. This report does not provide an exhaustive account of the day-to-day operations of the range of GBV-related services provided by Canadian Muslim community organizations. What follows, however, is a general overview of the range of GBV-related concerns addressed by these organizations, with an emphasis on services that have not been elsewhere described in detail. One key example is that of a Canadian Muslim-specific helpline, the only one of its kind in North America. In an interview with a counsellor of the helpline, the primary concerns raised by callers were characterized by affirming that there is indeed a known need for social support in these areas despite scant research on this subject to date:

“The most frequent issues we hear about from our callers are domestic abuse issues — emotional abuse, financial issues and physical abuse. Many women also call about mental health concerns — depression, anxiety, loneliness. We do also get calls from people dealing with Islamophobia, and calls related to homosexuality.”


The interviewee made clear, however, that although the helpline is staffed by trained Muslim volunteer women, it only serves as an initial referral point into social services but is unable to provide advanced support:

“A lot of our cases, our callers, they do need professional help which we can’t offer. So, then we refer them to organizations with services in their locality where they can reach out to and call. But our protocol is also, if there’s danger of physical harm or a caller is suicidal, we need to call the police. If it’s a physical abuse situation and it’s not the first time, we get them help, support them to go to some environment where their lives or the lives of their children are no longer in danger.”



Organizations that provided more intensive one-on-one counselling and transitional shelter specifically to Muslim women who had experienced GBV pointed to a similar range of issues at play. However, as the following excerpts make clear, the services provided are more intensive, often involving outreach with other community services and tangible assistance with matters related to finances, employment and housing.

“We try to work with women to make an action plan that’s based on what they tell us. It could look like figuring out whether or not they are ready to leave a situation of violence. Or if they had already left a situation of violence, they needed transitional housing, child care and help dealing with the court and child protection, and of course emotional support around all these things. We have also seen young girls who were dealing with issues within their family and the issue of forced marriages has come up as well.” “A big focus is on housing, and on whatever resources she needs financially from the government, and to help her get a job. Sometimes a woman has been dependent on her husband and has never opened a bank account so we help with that. We connect with community resources for women that need to figure out their status because they thought their husband had applied for citizenship or permanent residency.” “We do quite a lot of outreach with the mainstream social services, even police and Children’s Aid Society. They know us and we know them, and this helps us to make sure that women are getting access to the information and help they need. We send a lot of referrals out, and get some in as well.”

Interviewees frequently reported that in addition to their close relationships with mainstream service agencies, in which their cultural and religious expertise was a key asset, their organizations had important relationships with local mosques, from which they would receive many referrals:

“I think the mosque network will refer cases to us before referring outside. Of course, Imams do provide counselling but I think their interventions are limited. They do the best that they can with the knowledge that they have and even that is not standard across all Imams. Also, we get referrals from other social service agencies, especially for difficult cases, because our counsellors are known to have an expertise of cultural competence in dealing with the Muslim community.”



Interviewees repeatedly spoke to their organizations’ specific expertise in providing GBV services for Muslim women in the Canadian context, filling gaps left by mainstream services. A theme that repeatedly emerged across interviews was the need for public services to better attend to Muslim Canadian women’s needs around GBV. With regards to existing Muslim community-based services, interviewees suggested there was a need to provide important models as to how public services might better serve Muslim women:

“There’s a reason why people don’t like going to some of the public services. But they’re being run by taxpayers’ money, our money, so why is it that when it comes to our community we can’t benefit from that, from that public good? There’s a gap there, so it has to be filled. We need to constantly be part of the conversation when it comes to funded social service organizations, of how to make them better for our communities.” “It’s very important for public shelters and counselling services that are out there to recognize the different needs of the community. We live in a multicultural sort of community and we have all kinds of people here with their own cultural requirements. The public services can definitely learn a lot from an Islamic shelter and Islamic counselling services how to provide culturally sensitive services.” However, some study participants emphasized that while delivery of more culturally safe, state-funded GBV services for Muslim women was imperative moving forward, particularly in underserved regions, Muslim community organizations would continue to play an important role in their own right:

“We know how to provide support to our communities. And that’s because we are recognizing what happens when we move here and we’re recognizing what is important to us. And so, so if we give people the choice and, you know, you always find that there are going to be migrants that come here and say, no I’d prefer to go the dominant mainstream agencies, that’s fine. But we need the opportunity to provide multiple spaces for people to seek support.”



The Importance of Culturally-Safe Services for Muslim Canadian Women Across the study interviews, participants consistently emphasized the importance of culturally safe, GBV-related services for Muslim women in Canada, whether in community-based or state-funded contexts. An overview is provided below with regards to the primary issues raised and in particular with respect to language, culture, gender and faith. The reader is invited to refer to earlier sections of this report that address collectivist cultural contexts for key additional points.

Language, Culture and Gender Consistent Services Interviewees from the vast majority of Muslim Canadian organizations delivering GBV-related services emphasized the importance of having such services available in multiple languages, in order to address the needs of women seeking assistance:

“We try to have as diverse of a staff as possible. Generally speaking, we see a lot of women who speak Arabic or Urdu, we’ve had Farsi speaking women, Pashto, several other languages and we’ve been able to navigate through. If we are really stumped and we don’t know the language and don’t have anyone on staff, then we reach out to volunteers to help us do the casework.”



In addition to language, Muslim social service professionals’ unique understanding of the cultural and religious contexts of their clients was seen as a major asset:

“The first thing is that we provide multi-lingual services, so English, French and Arabic. The second thing is that our social workers are quite knowledgeable on the cultural and religious norms that affect cases in the Muslim community. It’s not to say that culturally sensitive counselling doesn’t exist at all in the public social services in our city. But from a client’s perspective, they may feel that our counsellors are more likely to understand their case from a cultural perspective. So, I think that’s one reason why we’ll get referrals for cases from the Muslim community.” In some cases, Muslim community-based services staffed by women represented an important lifeline for Muslim Canadian women experiencing GBV who might otherwise not know where to turn within their communities:

“Our research showed that there was a need for Muslim women to be able to reach out and get support – they don’t always feel comfortable with non-Muslim [service providers], and even to share with an Imam, who is a man, can be emotionally hard on them. And because we are a confidential and anonymous service, that encourages a lot of women to contact us.”

Faith-Informed Services Interviewees spoke at length about ensuring that GBV-related services, whether in the form of education, counselling or transitional shelter, be informed by the Muslim faith. Most tangibly, with respect to transitional shelter options, several interviewees spoke about important considerations in this regard. For example:

“If a Muslim woman is in a public shelter and she’s fasting, it’s Ramadan, and the meals that are provided in the shelter are only at specific times for breakfast, lunch and dinner, what do you do? Is the shelter going to allow you to wake up at five or five thirty in the morning to have your meal? For Muslim women it’s a common issue: make sure that I’m covered up, do I have a prayer space at the location, how do I make sure that my family and I are getting halal food?”



A social service professional herself involved in a transitional home for Muslim women echoed this perspective, noting that:

“What we hear from sisters again and again is, “I don’t feel safe going to a public shelter. I don’t know what might happen there.” And over the years, what we get in our exit interviews is, “I really enjoyed staying here because, I felt like I could connect with the other people living here, I could connect with the caseworkers, they spoke my language, and we’re all Muslims, we have that connection with each other.” Several study interviewees emphasized that the counselling approach they use with Muslim women includes a faith-informed dimension, supportively addressing the woman’s core religious values. One social service professional for example explained:

“Muslim women often contact us before reaching other services and they tend to open up in a frank way. They usually want you to help them with an action plan – and they may not want to hear it from their mother or husband. They need compassion, not a judgmental response, like “you’re not praying, well you’re going to get into trouble”. But in most cases, they expect some help that includes spiritual counselling, because many of them get lost in their faith and sometimes they just need to hear someone tell them, this is what you can do”. Another professional elaborated further on how such faith-informed counsel might look in practice:

“There are certain things in the Qur’an or in the Hadiths that can help specifically for certain issues. So, we remind people about these and they can read, they can repeat, to find that inner peace. A lot of people they go to these things when hardships get them, so it’s just a reminder.”



Central Role of Imams Across our study interviews, many community leaders and social service providers spoke about Imams who, as Muslim religious leaders, could play a central role in both preventing and addressing GBV in their communities. Several study participants characterized Imams as the ‘first line of defence’ within Muslim communities, noting that Imams’ extensive knowledge of Islam, and respected social position, made them trusted figures who could help to educate community members about GBV, provide informal counselling support for families in need, and connect those impacted by GBV with other appropriate services. In terms of education and prevention, two major themes arose in our interviews. The first was the role Imams could play by speaking regularly about GBV in their weekly ‘Khutbahs’ (sermons). One Imam explained his approach:

“In my Khutbahs I mention what it says in the Qur’an, and how the Prophet, peace be upon him, used to behave as a husband. He never raised his hand to beat any one of his wives. And we have been commanded to take our beloved Prophet Muhammed (Peace Be Upon Him) as our model and follow him as an example.” Another important strategy Imams are taking is to address GBV in counselling couples prior to marriage. For example one Imam told us:

“Since we got the permit to do marriages, I counsel the couples before marriage about the rights and the duties of each one of them. So, they’re aware what they’re expecting to do as soon as they get married. I also deal with the issue of violence by addressing the husband and talking to him privately, separately.” In terms of addressing GBV once it has already occurred, Imams described situations that arise in which they are called upon by community members to intervene and stop ongoing abuse occurring. And although they may also be able to help in immediate counselling and reconciliation roles, Imams can also play an important role in referring women and families to other appropriate social services. As one Imam explained:

“Most of the time it’s women who call, to try to get help and assistance. Personally I sit with the husband and talk to him and then after that I sit with the sister and see how we can help her. If I see that it’s beyond my capacity and ability I refer them to other services.”



Another Imam similarly described successes from his counselling approach:

“I think all the Imams are going through the same issues. I’m receiving couples on a weekly basis and I sit down with them for hours and hours. Most of the time they go back to their home with a sound heart, with positive energy. So it helps. It helps a lot.” However, several study participants emphasized the importance of training Imams to respond appropriately to women who reach out to disclose their experiences. We heard, for instance, of women whose disclosures to an Imam had led to poor outcomes.

“So many women remain silent. They suffer in silence for years because of silence of the society or because they’ve reached out to some Imam or community leader, and then their in-laws got to know about the story and then they are shamed.” Many Imams encourage victims of domestic violence to go back to their abusers and try and make it work:

“We’ve had many instances where women have been told to have patience and go back to their abusers to ‘protect the honour’ of family. A lot of the time, Imams would use religion and the Qu’ran to ‘guilt-trip’ women and girls to go back to their homes where the abuse is occurring” Research and investigative reporting have also reported incidences across Canada – where Imams have been performing ‘nikahs’ (Islamic marriages) to men who are already legally married. One interviewee told us:

“This is a common thing where men enter into a second marriage without the consent of his legal wife. We also have seen Imams who perform Islamic marriages but do not also issue legal certificates – resulting in women not knowing what to do if they walk away from their marriage…. and then realising they weren’t actually legally married [in Canadian law].”


Engaging with Families, Men and Boys Muslim community leaders and service providers interviewed in this study also emphasized that while GBV disproportionately impacts women and girls, men and boys are also affected - and have an integral role to play in both preventing and addressing GBV. Several participants emphasized GBV-related education and action by Muslim men and boys (and not just women and girls) as being essential in reducing GBV among Muslim Canadians:

“While I think it’s important to centre the leadership and voices of women and girls, this is an issue for all of us. How we engage boys and men on these issues is really important. I think a lot of boys and men are reactive because they feel like, ‘Oh, you’re telling us all men or boys use violence’, which is not the case. So how do you empower people to stand in or have a voice to challenge when they see violence or hear violence...? Men and boys have an important role to play - and they have to feel they have the knowledge and can be proactive in doing that.” “Of course, men need to help us, to be involved in understanding what we’re doing. It’s their daughters, their wives, their sisters who are impacted. Unless men and boys speak up, very little will change.” They pointed to some men’s ongoing discomfort as to why GBV-related services are important for Muslim women, citing a lack of appropriate information as a key factor:

“We’ve had a lot of support from people - supportive women and supportive men. But I guess there’s a group of men who were uncomfortable because they didn’t understand exactly what was happening, because we were getting questions like, aren’t you encouraging the breakup of families?”



Other participants also advocated for GBV-related services to support men and boys who themselves have experienced trauma that complicates the overall picture, creating a need for multiple layers of professional and community support. (Please refer to this report’s section on Migration and Migration Trauma for additional details).

“We may have situations where there is women abuse, or male-perpetrated violence with children in the home. Then when you’re working with families, you hear the journeys or experiences of the family. The husband who is using violence may have also experienced violence or other difficulties of his own, and may need support too. I hope some men come forward because I’ve heard stories of men being sexually assaulted or raped when they were boys, by their family members or Qur’an teachers.”




Shifting Erroneous Cultural and Religious Narratives around Honour and Shame Across our study interviews, service providers and community leaders discussed some of the cultural and religious narratives encountered within Muslim communities which at times made it challenging to expose, prevent and/or address GBV. These included problematic interpretations of the concepts of honour and shame within some collectivist cultural contexts, as well as erroneous religious justifications for GBV. However, it is important to emphasize that such problematic and erroneous narratives are not universal among Muslims, as one social service professional explains:

“There’s a positive connotation to the word honour. But it also plays out in how some families worry about their reputation. This is not true for all Muslim women and girls or all families, but in those situations where there is violence, it can be a way of justifying certain forms of control and putdowns. When I work with women and girls, I ask, “What does honour mean to you?”

Speaking to the ways in which culturally-situated concepts of honour and shame are at times misused to justify abuse, one social service provider explained:

“We have seen women who are beaten up, and they are put on a pedestal for it by their family members. Some people think that she is the greatest woman out there because she tolerated all that for the sake of keeping her family honour intact.”


Another community leader spoke about the ways in which such concepts represented a misunderstanding of what truly constitutes honour and shame:

“One of the biggest challenges that we face is dealing with people in our community who don’t understand the need for [GBV-related services]. It’s again back to that whole shaming and honour issue – how to overcome that stigma that’s attached to women speaking out or leaving violence. Can’t people see that this is not dishonouring the community or the family? Keeping the stigma alive, keeping abuse going – that’s shameful. We need to pull together as a community to support and honour women.” Service providers interviewed in our study repeatedly spoke about the intense challenges associated with helping women move through the cultural stigmas around honour and shame that are at times associated with speaking out about or putting an end to their experiences of GBV. For example:

“It’s very hard to help women come to that place where they realize that if you putting up with it, you’re not doing yourself any good. That’s hard because we’re talking about something they’ve grown up with. It’s sort of ingrained in them that it’s the honour of the family - no matter what happens to you, you’ve got to put up with it. That most certainly has been a challenge, and it’s a very difficult one to overcome.”

However, they emphasized that culturally-sensitive care geared to addressing such stigmas could successfully help survivors to feel more empowered:

“The guilt that associated with [accessing our services] sometimes is so overwhelming for women. They had to leave their situation and now people will know what they did. Like people are going to know that they left their husband or their family. There’s also the feeling where you feel like you’re worthless, which is very common amongst women initially when they arrive at [our service]. But we see that change definitely, one hundred percent.”



Others spoke about the erroneous ways in which some people would justify abuse using erroneous interpretations of Islamic scripture:

“The sad part is that some people justify abuse in the name of Islam. It’s totally wrong, but some people think that in the Qur’an it says that a man is allowed to hit his wife -- so Islam gives a man the right to hit you, as long as he doesn’t make you black and blue. Throwing things, pushing and shoving you once in a while – it’s no big deal, you’re one of the lucky ones. If you leave, then Allah will punish you. So many women have told me this is what they have been told.”

However, interviewees repeatedly affirmed that such justifications – like the wide range of other erroneous justifications for GBV - should be unequivocally rejected:

“It’s not that Islam causes people to abuse, it’s that some people who abuse use Islam to justify it. Because if Islam caused that, then all abusers would be Muslims, which is definitely not the case! Abuse happens across all races, cultures, backgrounds, religions, everything. And I’ve been on the boards of enough shelters and involved with enough women’s organizations to see that. Other people use something else to justify their bad behaviour. Some people use Christianity, some people use mental health, or other things.”



Conclusions and Recommendations This report presents an overview of the important issues surrounding service delivery for Muslim women who experience GBV in Canada and elsewhere, while pointing to key gaps where further action and research is needed. Based upon analysis of the narratives and data gathered in our study, Islamic Relief Canada makes the following recommendations.


Form a network of Canadian Muslim organizations working against GBV: As this research demonstrates, multiple Canadian Muslim organizations have taken important and innovative action to address GBV-related issues across the country. Additional partnerships between these organizations may prove helpful in maximizing the resources and knowledge available.


Conduct further research to define the extent and prevalent types of GBV among Canadian Muslims: While it is clear that GBV is present among Canadian Muslims – as it is across other Canadian demographic groups – little quantitative research exists to define the scale of the problem. Additional research in this regard will assist in better defining the need for additional service delivery in both community and governmental contexts.


Evaluate best practice for Muslim-focused GBV services in Canada: Several Canadian Muslim community-based organizations have done important work in creating intervention toolkits with respect to educating boys and men, as well as Imams’ roles in providing education and counselling related to GBV. Community leaders associated with MRCSSI in London, Ontario have additionally published important texts related to community-based service delivery. However, to better inform policy, additional research will be needed to evaluate the effectiveness of these practices and shape guidelines as to best practices that may be transferred across community-based settings and into public services.






Policy imperatives for culturally-safe GBV-related public services for Muslim women: It is clear that major gaps exist in Canada’s network of public governmental GBV services that make it particularly challenging for Muslim women to access appropriate assistance. On the basis of #2 and #3 above, a network of Muslim community organizations (see #1 above) should unite to advocate for policy that requires culturally-safe services to be more widely available in public GBV service settings.

Female counsellors in mosques: Mosques should actively explore appointing trained female counsellors for the provision of confidential support and expertise to women and girls in their constituency – while also providing referral and liaison services with other organisations.

Change the narrative on honour and shame in families and advocate around alternative religious interpretations: Islamic Relief Canada and other concerned parties should mount an advocacy campaign around mosques and other Muslim institutions providing alternative religious interpretations that remove any religious justification for GBV and associated issues.


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January 25, 2018 Nadine Ijaz Islamic Relief Canada 144 Walnut St. S., Hamilton ON L8N 2L7 Dear Nadine: We are pleased to inform you that the ethical review of your research project: GenderBased Violence and Protection of Family Honour in Muslim Families has been completed. Based on the changes you have made, we have determined that your research proposal is ethically sound and we agree to the use of our approval statement on any documents related to the research project. However, this statement must appear on any Consent Forms associated with this project. This project has been reviewed and approved by the Community Research Ethics Board. If you feel you have not been treated according to the descriptions in our information, or your rights as a participant in research have been violated during the course of this project, you may contact the Chair, Community Research Ethics Board, at: Community Research Ethics Office (Canada) Corp. c/o Centre for Community Based Research, 190 Westmount Road North, Waterloo ON N2L 3G5; Email: Telephone: 1-888-4112736. We ask that, if you make any major changes to your research process and/or reviewed documents, you request our further review. This approval covers the originally projected time frame for your research. If that timeframe is extended, please advise us. On behalf of our Board of Directors, thank you for using the services of the Community Research Ethics Office. If we can be of service in the future, please contact us.


Kristin Brown, PhD; Lead Reviewer

Community Research Ethics Office c/o Centre for Community Based Research 190 Westmount Road North Telephone: 1-888-411-2736 Email:



And one of His signs is that He created for you spouses from among yourselves so that you may find comfort in them. And He has placed between you compassion and mercy. Surely in this are signs for people who reflect. (Qu’ran 30:21) People, be mindful of your Lord, who created you out of a single soul, and out of it created its mate, and out of the two spread countless men and women. Remain mindful of God, in whose name you make requests of one another and beware of severing ties of kinship. God is always watching over you. (Qu’ran 4:1)



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