Stand with Purple
2/7/2014 5:11 PM
This February marks five years since the beheading of Sr. Aasiya Zubair, the co-founder of Bridges TV, in Buffalo, NY. She was a victim of domestic violence. In public, her husband was a highly educated, courteous, very professional, successful business man. In private, he was a wild, heartless beast with no mercy or respect for women or the mothers of his children. Aasiya was his third wife. Both ex-wives divorced him because of severe domestic abuse. He was known as abusive husband within his community, but he still managed to marry a third time, to abuse his third wife for seven years and to brutally murder her in the Bridges TV channel’s office that they ironically co-founded to dispel negative stereotypes about Muslims.
In the past five years, more North American Muslim sisters have shared Aasiya’s fate: murdered by their own husbands. Their number includes Nazish Noorani in New Jersey, Shaima Alawadi in California; Sakina Williams in New York; Nasira Fazli in Ontario; Mona Elswedy in Pennsylvania; and Sarwat Lodhi in New York. .
They made news only after they were murdered. There are hundreds of abused women and girls living within our communities who don’t make the news every day, who are suffering at this very moment. Domestic violence is one of the most under-reported crimes in the world. One out of every four women in the United States experiences some kind of Domestic violence in their lifetime, and that includes Muslim women. This means twenty-five out of every hundred women are being abused in our community. This means that when you go to the masjid, at least one-fourth of the sisters you give Salaams to may need your help.
Of course, murder is an extreme form of violence that is obvious and is often punished. But unfortunately, not all forms of domestic violence are as tangible and punishable as we would like them to be. That is exactly why it is easy to hide not only from authorities but from family members, friends, and community for some time. Please click here to find more about such types of domestic violence.
Twenty five out of hundred is a very large number. This means that we have several women and girls around us who are victims of domestic violence in one way or the other. These are our mothers, sisters, daughters, cousins, sister-in-laws or daughter-in-laws. These are our friends and neighbors. The woman who smiles at our kid during Jummah prayer. The sister who shares her rug with us during a busy Eid prayer. Some of them might have obvious bruises--purple marks on their faces or black/purple eyes. Most will not. Most will have learned how to hide and cover up their abuse. For those that experience daily emotional abuse, daily financial abuse—we may not see the signs as easily. We shouldn't negate the emotional abuse. Many survivors say that those wounds take much longer to heal. Here is a pocket size card “Protect Your Loved Ones” to help people understand those signs.
Twenty-five out of a hundred is a very large number, but it is a smaller number than it was before many individuals came forth to reduce it. There are individuals who have dedicated their lives to addressing the issue in the past four decades, and have made amazing strides. There are organizations that have been working for decades to reduce this number. To see how far we've come, watch this short video of Esta Soler of Futures Without Violence as she shares her success and struggles with TED audience. When Esta Soler lobbied for a bill outlawing domestic violence in 1984, one politician called it the "Take the Fun Out of Marriage Act." Look how attitudes have changed since then. Together, we can change them within the Muslim community too.
Let me repeat one more time. Twenty five out of a hundred is a very large number.
We need a real action plan to reduce it.
According to a 2011 national survey of the American Muslim community conducted by Project Sakinah in collaboration with Peaceful Families Project, when American Muslims learned of someone who was being abused, less than 15% directly intervened, and fewer than 45% talked to the victim and/or prayed for them.
The Stand with Purple campaign is meant to change that.
Standing with purple means standing in solidarity with the victims of domestic violence. It means stepping forward to help them as they need it.
The campaigns to raise awareness about domestic violence continue. Now it's time for Muslims to demonstrate to everyone that our community is no longer going to accept domestic violence labeled as an Islamic practice. To Stand with Purple is to engage community members to take tangible actions against domestic violence. To Stand with Purple is to speak up against this evil every time we see it. To Stand with Purple is to organize programs and workshops to prevent such abuse. It is to support the victims physically, morally, and financially. To Stand with Purple is to stay the hand of abuser before they abuse. It is to about make sure that both the abuser and the abused access professional services to break that cycle of abuse.
To Stand with Purple is a step beyond wearing purple on a certain day in solidarity with the victims of domestic violence. It is a commitment we make that never in our life will we let abuse go unchecked. Never in our life will we judge or ignore an abused person. To Stand with Purple is to do whatever we can do to stop this evil within our families and our community.
May Allah almighty grant us with that tawfiq and resources that we need to Stand with Purple, ameen.
Please check our campaign page for some quick actions items that you can take with minimum efforts.