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“Domestic Violence Through the Lens of Marginalized Communities: Improving Our Response”

On November 6th, 2015, KARAMAH offered a cultural sensitivity training workshop to service providers, attorneys and advocates titled “Domestic Violence Through the Lens of Marginalized Communities: Improving our Response.” Aisha Rahman, Esq., KARAMAH executive director and Julia Bizer, Esq. KARAMAH Family Law attorney, presented the workshop.

KARAMAH offers these training workshops in order to increase the cultural sensitivity of service providers, attorneys and advocates and to provide them with a basic knowledge of Islamic family law so as to provide more comprehensive services to marginalized survivors of domestic violence, particularly Muslim survivors.

The training workshop kicked off with a discussion of the concept of “culture.” Ms. Rahman led the discussion highlighting how culture informs one’s view of oneself and others.  Cultural sensitivity is paramount in the work of attorneys and social services’ providers who need to adopt an open attitude and respect towards cultural differences in order to be able to interact effectively with people of different cultures.

Ms. Rahman then explained to participants the dynamic of violence in marginalized and immigrant homes in an attempt to elucidate the cultural barriers that Muslim and Muslim immigrant survivors face in experiencing and reporting domestic violence. Unfortunately, abusers often use Islam and misinterpretations of Islam to perpetuate domestic violence. DV survivors might even believe that their religion is oppressive and keeps them from seeking supportive services.  Therefore, Ms. Rahman dispelled some misconceptions about Islam “validating” domestic violence.  (Read “An Islamic Perspective on Domestic Violence” by Azizah al-Hibri )

Ms. Rahman also explained the legal remedies available to survivors of domestic violence and legal barriers for survivors who are immigrants and refugees. In DV cases where the parties involved are Muslim, Islamic law may show up in U.S. Courts. Ms. Rahman explained types of divorce in Islam and provided explanation of some Islamic family law terminology that shows up in legal actions.

Ms. Bizer led the workshop participants in a safety planning exercise.  Participants identified how they would safety plan for different DV situations.  She also provided participants with advice on important factors to keep in mind while working with marginalized DV Clients. Ms. Bizer said: “Don’t make judgments on their religion or culture even if might sound strange to you. Don’t ask what their beliefs are. Work on the issues that they bring to you. Be aware all of our religions and cultures have aspects that can limit survivors from asking for help.  All religions and cultures have aspects that provide resilience and support to heal.” Watch this training workshop’s pictures here.