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The Cathartist Joins MuslimGirl.net for April's Sexual Assault Awareness Month
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). Since the seventies, groups and organizations across the country have dedicated this month to raising awareness on ending sexual violence, addressing rape culture, and public speakouts.
This year, MuslimGirl.net will launch Sexual Assault Awareness Month by holding an online panel of organizers, advocates, direct services providers, and survivors to draw attention to the work that is being done to address sexual violence in Muslim American communities. We will discuss the barriers that survivors face in coming forward, available services, and future directions for the work.
We will be using the hashtag #MGSAAM to have a live conversation on Twitter and take questions for our guests on the air.
The Girls' Room is a MuslimGirl.net online monthly series of Google Hangouts in which we discuss the topics that we all actually want to talk about with badass guests from the Muslim community and beyond.
Nadiah Mohajir is the co-founder and director for HEART Women & Girls, a young nonprofit organization committed to building self-esteem and leadership through health and wellness programming for faith based communities. In just three years, HEART has provided health education programming to over 1000 Muslim women and girls in the Chicagoland area as well as Southern California, New Jersey, and Michigan, breaking many cultural barriers and raising awareness about important issues such as sexual and reproductive health, media literacy, fitness and nutrition.
She has worked in healthcare for over 10 years in a variety of settings, including but not limited to research, academics, policy, and community health. In the past, she was a consultant for the Office on Women’s Health (OWH) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, working on a variety of different projects focusing on minority health in Chicago.
Prior to her work at the OWH, Nadiah worked on a research project focusing on improving the pregnancy outcomes of low-income Chicago women.
Nadiah earned her master’s degree in public health in 2009 from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She earned her bachelor’s degree in public policy studies from University of Chicago.
Nadiah lives in the South Side Chicago neighborhood of Hyde Park with her three children and husband and is involved in creating an American Muslim community in Hyde Park by serving on the steering committee of the Hyde Park Muslim Family Circle.
Sumaya Abubaker serves as project manager for the USC Center for Religion and Civic Culture. For over eight years, she has managed many of the Center’s civic engagement leadership institutes for minority faith communities.
Prior to joining CRCC, she worked for Wells Fargo Bank, the Council for Islamic Education and The Minaret magazine. She spent many years on the board of ELEV8, a nonprofit designed to empower youth with the tools to engage in activism through the arts. Sumaya is a fellow of NewGround, a program that engages diverse groups of Muslim and Jewish Angelenos in an innovative community-building process of intra- and inter-faith education and reflection, leadership training and civic engagement.
Sumaya is also a co-founder of the Rahma Network, an organization established to assist American Muslim communities in addressing sexual violence and abuse. She is a survivor herself and through her involvement in the Rahma Network, she works with survivors, builds resources and conducts speaking engagements on how to prevent and address sexual violence and abuse.
She received her BA from the University of California, Los Angeles, where she studied international development with a specialization in the Middle East/North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa.
Navila Rashid is a MSW Candidate from Long Island University-Brooklyn Department of Social Work. Navila is currently a social worker intern at The Urban Justice Center, Domestic Violence Project based in Brooklyn, NY. There, she works closely with victims of domestic violence and intimate partner violence through psychotherapy, case management and court accompaniment and advocacy.
Navila is also the Co-Founder of The Cathartist, a web platform for individuals afflicted by sexual trauma to use as an outlet for resources, activism and to submit work to heal and cope through the expressive arts.
Because of her work with The Cathartist, Navila also has experience working with children who were afflicted by sexual abuse at a psychotherapy clinic based in Brooklyn, New York, actively engaging in art and play therapy as well as cognitive behavioral therapy.
Moderated by Darakshan Raja, Program Manager, Washington Peace Center
Watch the Video if you missed it!
A Statement on Chicago Sexual Abuse Cases
For two weeks, we have all had a chance to read, discuss, and process the stories of sexual abuse perpetrated by an imam in the Chicago Muslim community. Here at The Cathartist, we too, along with the survivors/victims have found it difficult to articulate the concern, disappointment and frustration about this horrifying situation.
It takes phenomenal courage to come forward about sexual abuse, specifically when it is against a prominent/well-liked figure within a community. To not only stomach reliving the trauma of sexual abuse, but to also face the retaliation, scrutiny, and legal processes, is a testament to the tremendous strength of those who come forward. We want to extend our unequivocal support to the victims and survivors who have shared their stories.
To endure sexual abuse in tight-knit communities is very difficult where, oftentimes, victims and survivors are silenced. It’s unfortunate, but too real and it’s our job to end that destructive pattern. This is a time to listen, support, and speak.
As individuals and communities look for ways to heal and move forward, The Cathartist wants to continue to serve as an outlet for your expression. Write, draw, capture and immerse yourself and share with your community why we need to #EndSexualAbuse
Support Nadya Ali as she undertakes the project to 'Break Silence' about sexual violence within the Muslim Community.
"Breaking Silence will be the first of its kind in documenting American Muslim women’s stories about their experiences, coping, coming out to their families and friends, and their insight about the change that needs to take place to help survivors, punish perpetrators, and prevent reoccurrences."
Being a part of this journey that Nadya Ali and Salah Anwar and Javier Vazquez have worked on for close to a year now has been a privilege and honor for me (Navila). We shy away from these topics as Muslims, as South Asians. It's time we break the silence and I completely back up this effort of some amazingly talented and motivated folks on their project. Share and contribute as much as you are willing to! This is quite a relevant and important cause that is interconnected with so many other social injustices out there. Donate even if it's a $1, because this can shift our language and perception on how we address sexual assault in the Muslim Community.
Don't forget, we're here to work together and start dialogue but moves towards policy change, social change and eventually cognitive change on an institution of oppression that has been normalized for too long.
Follow them on Facebook: Breaking Silence
and DONATE at :
Testimonials and interviews of Victims/Survivors/Advocates
To all those interested: We are currently in the works of shooting some videos of testimonials and interviews of Victims/Survivors/Advocates of sexual abuse for an event that is coming up soon. It’s also a part of a platform of advocacy materials that will be published soon. If you would like to partake and/or know of someone who can fit the following, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Requirements of person being interviewed/filmed:
1. Victim/Survivor of sexual abuse. Can be a primary, secondary or tertiary victim
2. Victim/Survivor of Domestic Violence
3. If not a victim, someone who has actively taken part in advocating towards ending sexual violence/domestic violence
4. Be in NC, DC, or NYC.
Also if an individual wants anonymity, that can be respected and provided. We would like the opportunity to share your experience and story because it needs to be heard. Voices can change a lot of how people see/view issues, and your words do matter.
Share the message and spread the word!