Domestic Violence in
The Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence has organized resources for Muslim communities because so many Muslim immigrants living in the U.S. come from various regions in Asia: Central, East, South, Southeast, and West Asia, i.e. the Middle East.
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Notions of identity carry complex political, social, and familial meanings. The following terms are defined for clarity only and not to force anyone into a particular regional and ethnic grouping. Self-identification is appropriately a matter of individual decision.
- Arab, Middle Eastern, West Asian refers to people from the Middle East, also called West Asia and includes peoples who trace their origins to the countries, diasporas and/or ethnicities of these regions.
- Asian includes peoples of Central Asian, East Asian, Southeast Asian, South Asian, and West Asian ancestry, i.e., those who trace their origins to the countries, diasporas and/or ethnicities of the above regions.
- Muslim, which includes the Sunni and Shia' sects, refers to people who self-identify, culturally or religiously (whether they are practicing or not), as Muslims.
- Not all Arabs are Muslims. They can be Christians, Druze, Baha'is, or Jews. Christian sects in the Middle East include Antiochian Orthodox, Assyrian, Chaldean, Coptic, Greek Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Maronite, Melkite, Roman Catholic, Syrian Catholic, and Syrian Orthodox.
- Not all West Asians, such as Iranians/Persians and Turks, are Arabs.
- Indigenous Muslims refers to African American Muslims.
- Immigrant and refugee Muslims in the U.S. come from Asian countries such as Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Pakistan; MENA (Middle East & North Africa) Region: e.g., Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Palestine; Africa, e.g., Somalia; and Europe, e.g., Bosnia.
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- Muslims constitute 0.8% (2,454,000) of the U.S. adult population.1
- 65% of U.S. Muslims are foreign-born; 27% of them emigrated from South and Central Asia, including Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan.2
- 35% of Muslims in the U.S. self-identify as African American, the largest racial group within the community.3
- 18%, nearly one in five Muslim Americans, self-identify as Asian.3
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Domestic Violence Statistics
- A survey of 63 Muslim leaders showed that 10% of Muslims experienced physical abuse in their homes. Alkhateeb, Sharifa. "Ending domestic violence in Muslim families." Journal of Religion and Abuse 1.44 (1999): 49-59.
- A study of 23 Muslim married female immigrants from Bangladesh residing in Houston, Texas revealed a 10% prevalence rate of spousal abuse. Rianon, Nahid J., and Shelton, A. J. "Perception of spousal abuse expressed by married Bangladeshi immigrant women in Houston, Texas, U.S.A". Journal of Immigrant Health 5.1 (2003): 37-44.
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Important Resources for Advocates
Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence
- Islamic Marriage Contracts: A Resource Guide For Legal Professionals, Advocates, Imams & Communities (2012) This resource is meant to provide and clarify information about Islam and gender equality in marriage and divorce, to direct readers to the best practices that safeguard women's rights and interests, to promote wellbeing and balance for all parties, and to nurture communities.
- Bibliography on Gender, Domestic Violence, and Muslim Women A list of scholarly and popular works useful to advocates, researchers, and community members that includes over 150 listings.
- Muslim Women and Domestic Violence: 3 Key Topics A short bibliography on: Domestic Violence in Muslim Communities; Islamic Rights of Women; and Muslim Women: Gender, Race, Culture & Identity.
- Fact Sheet on Domestic Violence in Muslim Communities Includes recent Census demographics, statistics on domestic violence, select translated materials, (e.g., safety planning and legal glossaries), and other resources (such as international and national directories).
- Translated Materials A compilation of materials produced by domestic violence programs around the country, in Arabic, Bangla, Dari, Farsi, Hindi, Indonesian, Kurdish, Pashtu, Malay, and Urdu.
- Lifetime Spiral of Gender Violence In English and Farsi. A framework developed by the API Institute to understand how violence is lived and experienced over the lifespan, revealing patterns of victimization by enumerating the types of violence, vulnerabilities, and harms women and girls face.
Peaceful Families Project
Resources on Legal Issues
- Islamic Marriage Contracts: A Resource Guide For Legal Professionals, Advocates, Imams & Communities (2012) Also listed above, this resource highlights the legal issues that may arise, as well as the resources that are available to American Muslim women and their families under the auspices of American law.
- Awad, Abed. (2002). Court Enforces Mahr Provision in Muslim Marriage Contract: Odatalla Recognizes the Secular Terms of a Religious Agreement. New Jersey Law Journal, 169(11), 28-31.
- Awad, Abed and Popescu, Robert S. (2003). Appellate Division Declines to Adopt Bright-Line Prohibition Against Out-of-Country Visitation. New Jersey Law Journal, CLXXIII(12).
- Karamah: Muslim Women Lawyers for Human Rights, Publications on Islamic Law
- Legal Glossaries in Arabic, Hindi, Punjabi, and Urdu. Superior Court of California, County of Sacramento, California
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Story of the Unknown Woman
Huma B. Dar
My name is Farah.
I am the one pierced by a dozen bullets
on my mother's orders
in my lawyer's office
My sin: I had dared to ask for a divorce.1
My name is Gauhar.
I am the one almost run over
by a truck or is it okay to blame the truck driver?
My crime: my "Otherness" exposed in the land of the free
wearing a shalwar-qameez
for every one to see.2
My name is Sultani.
I am the one who lost count after the rapist number three
or was it number thirty?
Faizan, my months old baby, kept on crying
at the sight of my breast cut off
My crime: I am a Muslim
My name is Simurgh.
I am the one whose stomach was kicked
child abused and kidnapped by a husband
while his sisters cheered him on
My sin: possession of a voice.
Are voices contraband?
My name is Kausar Bano.
I am the one - nine months pregnant
raped, belly cut open, foetus on trident
both burnt to ashes
My sin: being a Muslim in Gujarat.4
My name is Fatimah.
I am the one whose name and its shadows
Melted and evaporated into oblivion
in the alchemy of fire on nine-eleven
when Hawwa's strong bones
at the foundation of it all
cried out to be excavated
as once she herself had
through the darkness of the Middle Passage
Our crime: lithe bodies
deemed capable of labor
enslaved and indentured, undocumented, uncounted
My name is Sherbat Gula.
I am the one whose three babies didn't make it
to age five
in the land of the land-mines
while my burqah was the talk of the town
and my eyes green were labeled "ferocious"
My crime: born close to warm waters
and black gold
I am told.6
My name is Unknown
I am the one whose burnt face, cut at the nape,
droned, white phosphoresced, or raped
couldn't tell my charred story
whose name, face or story didn't make the headlines
in the conspiracy of silence
My crime: they say we are "terrorists"
or too close to some, and thus
I am Unknown, I am Sherbat Gula,
I am Kausar Bano, I am Hawwa and Fatimah,
I am Simurgh, I am Sultani, I am Gauhar, I am Farah.
I am your mother, your aunt, your sister,
I am your neighbor, your friend, your lover,
I am you
Stand with me as I fight for justice
for I am you.
Published with the poet's permission, 2011.
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