Documentary “Fatal Silence” Reveals The Realities of Domestic Abuse Faced By Muslim Women

Documentary “Fatal Silence” was screened in Feb 20, 2019 at University of Western Ottawa. It shows the struggles faced by a Canadian-Lebanese Muslim woman, Sonia El Birani. She was finally killed by her husband who was diagnosed with clinical depression and paranoia. This happened while some of her male family members stayed quiet and while the local masjid offered a group dynamics that silenced the victims of abuse.

I feel very discouraged after reading all of this. I run a Facebook group “Forgotten Femmes” to offer free support to female victims of abuse. I do not observe things in silence because deep down I know that this is not going to work. So far, I have helped 5 abused women including myself. This assistance includes helping someone find a job or co-op placement, counseling, emotional support, job hunt aid, and helpful articles about Lucid Dreaming. Some issues that I have dealt with include help with sexual assault, domestic abuse, cyberstalking, stalking, workplace harassment, and intimate partner abuse. I am just one volunteer who is attempting to make a difference in this world by volunteering and motivating others to volunteer for this “Buddy System”—I am learning as I voyage through this world of abuse. I have fought hard to learn whatever I currently know; and, I intend to keep fighting for this cause.

Things are not easy for women although it’s way easier for men regardless of their religion. For example, even I was harassed for wearing the headscarf by some of my family members—it’s a very long story. However, throughout my life, I have come across or heard of Muslim men who pray at masjids and go home to abuse the women of their households. How easy are things for them! The documentary mentioned above definitely does justice when it points out harmful group dynamics that are being played out at some masjids. For instance, a Muslim woman told me that it is up to my parents to help me find a marriage proposal; this way, she chose to stay quiet and neglect my needs. The Mulsim community is simply not there when we need them. But, a lot of them are always there when some Christian or Jew brothers or politicians decide to address them. I have even come across or heard of three Canadian-Muslim female speakers/activists who went through severe sexual harassment due to domestic abuse. Believe me, one of the stories of abuse of a Muslim woman that I heard from an Indian woman is pretty graphic!

Instead, there is a need for those around victims of domestic violence to step up and find constructive ways to offer support. Source: Fatal Silence: Documentary Reflects on the Murder of Lebanese Canadian Sonia El Birani.

I must end this post by saying thanks to all men and women (professionals including poets, writers, activists, and journalists) who have offered me any sort of support or recognition while I attempt to complete daily adventures of my life. They are doing exactly what this post is asking them to do; i.e., stepping up to offer support in a constructive manner.

Copyright © by Arzoo Zaheer. All Rights Reserved.

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