by Sarah Hasan
The other day I was looking up local Sexual Assault Awareness Month events and thinking about ways to get people from our (‘our’ in this case = Muslim) communities to come out and participate. I started to imagine people who came to my mind first and their responses if I were to make a suggestion, instigate involvement. The aunties and/or their daughters and the looks I projected on their faces in my mind were discouraging images.
As I continued to indulge my faulty expectations regarding an imagined conversation with community members, a parallel (and far more positive) train of thought began to brew: I wondered how we could spread awareness in our communities that were specifically tailored to Muslims? Surely we could at least hold an event such as handing out ribbons, spark dialogue. What could we come up with on our own? I mean, in the (hopefully not so distant) future I would think it would be cool to have one of these tailored towards our own community, but there is a long way to go before that comes into fruition. I was curious to see what kind of resources were easily/google accessible to me now- as a Muslim woman, if I were searching for help, answers, counseling, anything.
While I found some interesting links, some directing me to neat organizations such as a Directory of Programs serving Muslims, I also inevitably encountered a lot of misinformation. What piqued my interest was a campaign run by Canadian Muslims called Muslims for White Ribbon. This was a neat although short campaign that ran this past winter; their motto: “Never commit, condone, or remain silent about violence against women and girls”. It made me really happy to see this initiative pop up in my google search even though this was specifically about women and girls, and it is important to keep in mind that when we talk about Sexual Assault Awareness we shouldn’t just refer to assault against women; 1 in 33 American men have experienced rape or attempted rape – that’s 3% of the men in this country that have been able to report it. I wonder then if there are similar initiatives American Muslims have taken or are working on. And if we haven’t yet started, when do we plan on getting something together? Would this be a difficult initiative to take? What are your thoughts?
Sarah Hasan is HEART’s Program facilitator and is passionate about helping to raise awareness about neglected issues in the Muslim community.