From the Field

Voices Amplified: Muslims Standing Against Victimization

Imagine 2050 Staff • Apr 23, 2013

By Darakshan Raja

“But doesn’t your religion allow for abuse?”

These were the words a Muslim woman was told by a police officer after she made a report.

Since 9/11, the American Muslim community has been negatively — and falsely — portrayed as inherently violent. All too often, the community is only highlighted in conversations on radicalization and terrorism. However as someone who specializes on the issue of crime victimization, what I rarely see is any attention to the needs of members of the Muslim community when they are the victims of violence.

Outside of personally witnessing the various forms of violence that Muslims experience that include political and interpersonal violence, it was a few years ago I came across Muslim women seeking help from domestic violence courts in order to escape death. Their stories were painful and surreal, and the most painful piece was the lack of societal response. From all levels of society that ranged from the criminal justice system, social services and the community, these women were abandoned.

 However after recently completing a study documenting the responses to crime victimization in the Muslim community, the abandonment and lack of responses can be expanded to all victims of crime in the Muslim community.

The lack of awareness of rights in the Muslim community, the fear of reporting to criminal justice agencies, and the lack of cultural competency in social services agencies’ responses to American Muslims are just a few barriers victims of crime within the community face. There is a culture of underreporting and coming forward because there are rarely any tangible responses in place. Due to Islamophobia and negative stereotypes, the field of addressing crime victimization in the Muslim community has been severely neglected. It has created a culture of impunity for perpetrators. 

Such misinformed framing of the issue of victimization that takes place in the Muslim community is contributing to the creation of inadequate responses that are further alienating and deterring victims from coming forward, and hence is creating a class of unprotected and underserved victims.

Therefore, as a result of these research findings, our initiative, Falling Walls, has launched a social media campaign to raise awareness on various forms of violence that impact the Muslim community. We wanted to use National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, which has held an annual event since the 1980s, to remember all victims of crimes in our country and to use it to show solidarity with all other groups and communities. Simultaneously, we want to bring attention to the specific ways the Muslim community has been impacted. We are asking to be included in the conversation because violence impacts all communities, and Muslims are no exception to that rule.

The social media campaign, “Voices Amplified: Muslims Standing Against Victimization,” will take place from April 21-27th and we will tweet and share statuses on resources for victims. We have also supplemented the social media campaign with an in-person event to focus on addressing sexual violence in the Muslim community as April is also National Sexual Assault Awareness Month. While we don’t have prevalence estimates for the Muslim community, we do know every 2 minutes someone is sexually assaulted in America

Here’s how you can help:

Level 1: Visit the Facebook page, click “Attend” and invite others to the page.

Level 2: Share Tweets and Facebook statuses to share information on crimes and resources.

Level 3: Send stories about victimization in America or take a picture to share on the blog.

Level 4: Do an in-person action or event and share!


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