Interfaith Week - A reflective Blog
Interfaith Week - A reflective Blog
Although I identify myself from a spiritual/ faith lead background and have worked in Violence Against Women and Girls sector for over ten years, contributing and attending events around faith issues, and violence against women and girls issues during the inter-faith week has been such an honour and a privilege as I grow and learn on this new journey in my new role as the Faith and Communities Programme Manager at Standing Together.
A lot of hard work and teamwork goes behind the scenes and first of all I would like to thank my manager and team members for their support, this role has also enhanced the appreciation of the hard work of one unique guiding light - faithful feminist Huda Jawad, what an amazing legacy you have left!
Interfaith week is a unique opportunity to build connections, sharing a cuppa tea, breaking the barriers, having camaraderie in kindred spirits and building bridges. We at the Faith and VAWG Coalition believe it is also important to have conversations, interactions and dialogues about the role of communities and the need to address violence against women and girls. Standing up against such important issues is everyone's responsibility, and not just an issue for women and girls. The spike of cases during lockdowns and the role of faith and faith led communities is evidence to the testimony for the need for us to focus on community support and connections.
With this streak of synergy and aiming to break stereotypes I also heard CPS Muslim Network and Prosecution Christian Fellowship Interfaith team Raffia Arshad, who became the first hijab-wearing woman to be appointed as a deputy district judge on the Midlands circuit. She quotes, I believe this is by Socrates, “ The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” Of course this does not imply we have to ignore abuses, each day we need to be actively fighting the patriarchy, Faith and VAWG Coalition founders have also created something new. We work on building anti-patriarchal, anti-racist narratives and interpretations of faiths which have been manipulated.
This week at Faiths Against Domestic Abuse (FADA) Awareness Week 2021 led by Women's Interfaith Network & Faiths Forum for London we also had some important conversations and discussions around need to support women from diverse faith backgrounds and the ground breaking work done by Faith and VAWG Coalition in addressing spiritual abuse. Having spiritual abuse acknowledged in Domestic Abuse Act is a big achievement. Naomi, CEO of Jewish Women’s Aid spoke on the importance of having specialised services to support survivors. She said “…we understood (the survivor). We understand what it is to be a Jewish Woman; to be vulnerable and have to explain cultural and faith specific things can be overwhelming in most situations”. Sophie Maskell from the Domestic Abuse Commissioner’s Office highlighted the important work they are doing in particular for refugee and migrant women, women with no recourse to public funds. Finally, we heard from Dr Maryyum Mehmood who discussed gendered spiritual abuse. Her resources, like this A-Z of spiritual abuse was so informative and eye opening. It was a pleasure to be on this panel with such phenomenal women and I am very grateful for the invitation into this space.
I hope in many other events, conversations and discussions, we will all stand together, affirm, and act.