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Domestic violence and experience of Muslim women lecture kicks off seminar series

By Glenn Houlihan

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(Benno Kraehe / Daily Collegian)

The College of Nursing’s fall seminar series was opened by Parveen Ali, who delivered an illuminating lecture on domestic violence and the experience of Muslim women to an attentive mix of faculty and students.

Ali, a lecturer at the School of Nursing and Midwifery at the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom, has written extensively on the subject, having published over 30 papers in peer review journals on gender based violence and health care research. In 2014 she co-authored “Intimate Partner Violence in Pakistan: A Systematic Review,” which discussed IPV’s “forms, predictors [and] effects” alongside victims’ responses.

Ali began by defining intimate partner violence—physical aggression, sexual coercion, psychological abuse or controlling behavior—and presenting The World Health Organization’s data: one in three women worldwide report some form of IPV, whilst it’s estimated that 38 percent of murders of women are committed by a male intimate partner.

Further research suggests those who have experienced some form of IPV are more likely to suffer depression and problems with alcohol.

The negative portrayal of Islam in Western mass-media was deconstructed, with Ali reminding the audience that it was the first religion to grant women spiritual equality with men, alongside the right to a separate legal identity. Demanding the Burqa is banned, she argued, is hypocritical; many women wear it out of choice, and to restrict this choice would be to restrict their freedom.

Referring to the U.K., Ali discussed many of the prevalent stereotypes, including that Muslim women are uneducated, come from Arab countries and do not work outside the home, and how the majority of funding which could potentially be used for addressing domestic violence goes toward funding anti-extremism programs. Honor killings, such as the recent case of Indian Muslim Celine Dookhran in London, were also examined.

Problems with tacking IPV are myriad. According to Ali, a lack of understanding of Islam prevents successful dialogue between authorities and Muslim communities, whilst women are often reluctant to act for fears of deportation or injustice in the courts. Economic, and often visa, dependency on an abusive relative can deter victims from seeking help.

Closing with what can be done to lower IPV, Ali advocated increasing understanding, identifying and acting on systems of support and developing legislation that address the needs of refugees and migrant women.

Charlene Van Cott, a nursing student in attendance, said, “For me, I was deployed in Afghanistan, and being put in that society you see it all the time,” explaining the differences in societal norms and the high number of cases that go unreported.

The fundamental issue with delivering appropriate health care without complete privacy was also raised. “How can you advise when the perpetrator is there?” Van Cott asked.

When asked whether there will be an improvement in statistics in the next 10 years, Ali was hopeful, pointing to more Muslim women scholars and the internet, which provides “more sources of information to compare and contrast” that was inaccessible decades ago.

Glenn Houlihan can be reached at [email protected]

1 Comment

One Response to “Domestic violence and experience of Muslim women lecture kicks off seminar series”

  1. Nitzakhon on September 21st, 2017 8:09 am

    Sura 4. Women count as half a man; a man can beat his wife legally.


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