Breaking Silence; Child Sexual Abuse

Being a mother of two lovely children, the issue of child sexual assault and sexual abuse is never too far from my mind. According to National Center for Victims of Crime, the prevalence of sexual abuse is difficult to determine because it is not often reported. A study by the Crimes against Children Research Center showed that over the course of their lifetime, 28 percent of U.S youth ages 14-17 have been sexually victimized and children between the ages of 7-13 were most vulnerable to child sexual assault or sexual abuse.

Based on the above mentioned statistics, I feel compelled to share the trailer for this upcoming documentary film, Breaking Silence, about 4 brave young Muslim-American women who are breaking their silence of the sexual abuse they suffered as children.  It is my hope that the film will break any real or perceived cultural and/or religious taboo on the subject.

It is obvious from the above mentioned statistics, that child sexual abuse is not one culture’s or religion’s problem, but worldwide concern.  It is important for families to talk to their children about abuse, and to create an environment where they can feel safe and confident to report such abuses, should they take place.

The film maker is currently raising funds on Kickstarter for the post production of their film. I would encourage everyone who is able to donate to this worthwhile cause to do so and spread the word. The film is slated to premiere in January 2015.

Muslim Men; A Father’s Day Tribute

Muslim men fare worse than Muslim women when it comes to negative stereotyping.  The common stereotype against Muslim women is that they are oppressed and therefore warrant people’s sympathy and support.  The Muslim men on the other hand, are looked upon as the oppressor and therefore, worthy of contempt.  I should know, I am married to a Muslim man, and I have had to deal with a few insinuations and even outright biases levied against my wonderful husband, from people who did not know him at all.  I remember an incident at work where I was telling some colleagues how my family was caught up in a blizzard on our way back from Canada and I decided we wouldn’t be going any further but stop and find a hotel to spend the night, even though my husband was more inclined to continue driving in the blizzard. My colleague’s response was that it was amazing that my husband listened to me, considering that men in my culture do not listen to women. At that time my colleague neither knew where my husband or I were from, nor what culture we belong to, but she nevertheless formed an opinion solely on our Muslim identity.

So on this father’s day, I will take a little detour and appreciate the millions of Muslim men around the world, the unsung heroes of our day to day lives. The family men who work hard every day to ensure the needs of their immediate and in most cases extended family members are met. The ever-present fathers that are at every doctor’s appointments, parents-teacher conferences, and after school activities, yet, comfortably accepting being second best to the mothers. The supportive husbands who are also their spouses’ greatest cheerleaders, urging them on in whatever venture they may partake. The loving uncles who are ever present to provide that extra love and attention; for there’s no such thing as too much love. The affectionate and responsible sons, that are ever cognizant of their parents’ welfare, especially in their old age. The fun and doting grandfathers, who find ingenious ways to spoil the grandchildren. Last but not least, the warm and caring brothers that are ever there for their siblings.

Thank you for all that you do, and even though the court of public opinion may not be on your side, those who know and matter to you, appreciates all that you do


Equity, Justice and Zahra Billoo

Zahra Billoo, Executive Director for CAIR-SFBA

Zahra Billoo, Executive Director of CAIR-SFBA

Have you met anyone in your life who literally adheres to equity and justice as mentioned in the verse of the Quran below?

O YOU who have attained to faith! Be ever steadfast in upholding equity, bearing witness to the truth for the sake of God, even though it be against your own selves or your parents and kinsfolk. Whether the person concerned be rich or poor, God’s claim takes precedence over [the claims of] either of them. 150  Do not, then, follow your own desires, lest you swerve from justice: for if you distort [the truth], behold God is indeed aware of all that you do!

I can proudly say I have been blessed in the course of my life to know such a person.

Over the years, I have worked with a lot of civil rights attorney and advocates who are passionate about what they do, but Zahra Billoo, the Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) San Francisco Bay Area, in my opinion literally lives by the principle of equity and justice mentioned in the Quran verse above.

She is one of the most dedicated civil rights attorneys and the most passionate social justice advocate I have ever met. To her, no issue is small.  I have watched her advocate against President’s Obama’s drone attack long before it became a popular issue. She has been very vocal against the FBI’s discrimination and harassment of the Muslim community, and constantly puts out a PSA about not talking to the FBI without the presence of an attorney. She sacrifices her evenings and weekends meeting with the Muslim community to do know your rights workshops.  And as for the Muslim community themselves, well, she has no problem speaking out against them when they fail to exercise justice and equity, especially as regards to the role of women.  To ensure that women are equally represented as speakers in Muslim events, she created a list of Muslim women speakers so that organizations will have no excuse for not inviting women to speak.

But that’s not all.  She is also a great humanitarian, organizing and volunteering her time to collect food to feed the homeless on a regular basis. She also personally bakes birthday cakes for children in foster care.

She is a lot of things to the community that I feel it’s really difficult to do justice on this individual today.

She does have a passion besides social justice and activism that helps her unwind.  However, due to her busy schedule, she mostly does it in the middle of the night, and like everything else in her life, she is very good at it too. But you will have to watch the video below to find out what that is.

Justice is a Warm Cupcake from Roldan Lozada on Vimeo.

I will end with a hadith (saying of the Prophet Muhammad (May peace and blessing be upon him))

“Whoever amongst you sees anything objectionable, let him change it with his hand (by action), if he is not able, then with his tongue (being vocal), and if he is not even able to do so, then with his heart (at least abhor it), and the latter is the weakest form of faith.  In the case of Zahra Billoo, she has no problem making changes through her action and her voice. May God continue to give her the strength to make the differences in people’s lives.

Ameena Mathews, the Interrupter

Ameena Mathews has the toughest and riskiest job by any standards.  She is a Violence Interrupter specialist, that’s right, she intercepts and mediates conflicts in tough Chicago neighborhoods before they escalate into more serious violence, such as homicide. She works for the Ceasefire initiative, a Chicago Project for Violence Prevention at the University of Illinois at the Chicago School of Public Health.

The daughter of Jeff Fort, one of the largest gang leaders in the history of Chicago outside of Al-Capone, and a former gang member herself, she is no stranger to violence, having lived it. She is now determined to break the mindset that violence is the only way to resolve issues, hence her work with high risk youth; youth who deal in drugs and gangs, and who see violence as a normal way of life.  Because of her passion for the welfare of the community and her ability to communicate with young people, she is able to get in places where even men cannot get in. As a result of the respect she has earned from the community, she has been effective in mediating numerous conflicts and organized peace summits.

She also works with Al Hafeez Initiative which is a grassroots organization that helps find resources for boys and girls to utilize in after school programs.

In 2011 she became a subject of an award-winning documentary, ‘The Interrupters,’ which showcased Ameena and three other Violence Interrupters working with the community to break the cycle of violence and teach the community how to deal with issues in a non-violent way. The documentary is worth your time, you can watch it by clicking on this link.

You can also watch Ameena Mathews receiving a BET Black Girls Rock award

and Ameena being interviewed by Stephen Colbert

Ameena Mathews has taught us that no matter what your past, you can turn your life around and give it a purpose. Here’s to a very brave Muslim woman.
Peace and blessings

Ottawa’s Aaida Mamuji: ‘Mombasa’ & a boxer : Featured OTT : Videos

Aaida Mamuji intrigues me to no end, but I don’t know which of the three reasons below fascinates me the most, may be you can help me.

  1.  Is it that she is the first Muslim woman in hijab that I have seen in competitive boxing? or
  2. That she is also a PhD candidate in Public Administration yet she chooses to pursue boxing seriously. Or
  3. Is it her Kenyan connection in general and her Mombasa connection in particular?  She was born in Kuwait from a Kenyan mother of Yemeni ancestry and Kenyan father of Indian ancestry, and now a Canadian citizen, but still considers herself a “Mombasa”.

It’s hard to tell!

At any rate, here’s the video of this fascinating Muslim woman fighter. I hope she will impact you the same way she did me.  

I don’t know why the lyrics ‘he floats like a butterfly and sting like a bee” is playing in my head at the moment.

Ottawa’s Aaida Mamuji: ‘Mombasa’ & a boxer : Featured OTT : Videos.

Peace and blessings

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