NISA Observes Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Domestic violence crosses all boundaries of religion, culture, and gender and the American Muslim community is not immune to this menace. NISA, the North American Islamic Shelter for the Abused, has been actively forming alliances with notable Bay Area DV organizations to provide support and create awareness of the severity of this problem. One of NISA’s advisory board members, Mrs. Aysha Haider, has joined the San Jose Domestic Violence Advisory Board and has also been nominated for the County of Santa Clara Domestic Violence Council.

On Oct. 6, NISA and Muslim Community Association, Santa Clara held an event to commemorate the DV awareness month. Domestic Violence Domestic Harmony was the theme of the program. Aysha Haider, Director of the North American Islamic Shelter for the Abused (NISA) and Co-Chair of NISA Outreach, welcomed the guests on behalf of her organization. The program featured speakers from AACI (Asian Association for Community Involvement), Next Door Solutions, Arab Cultural Community Center of San Francisco, Support Network for Battered Women, Maitri and NISA.

Educator and Volunteer Coordinator of the Asian Americans for Community Involvement (AACI) San Jose, Charu Aggarwal, explained the ways an abuser of Domestic Violence might use power to control an immigrant victim. She said that an abuser may use threats of deportation. “Isolation whereby the victim is not able to communicate with their family or friends and is confined within the home. Use of constant humiliating verbal remarks addressed at the victim for not having enough knowledge or capability to do anything hence forcing him/her into staying isolated.”

The speaker from the Arab Cultural Community Center of San Francisco, Hala Abdoun, speaking about DV effects on children, pointed out that the effects of violence toward the spouse become a normal habit for the children within the family. “Children from these homes are often depressed, have poor academic performance and misconduct at school. Often, the sons become abusers themselves and daughters become the abused. Last but not the least important, the receipt of such abusive behavior by the children results in a cycle of violence for the next generation.”

Another topic of discussion was legal implications of DV. Nalini Shekar of Next Door Solutions, San Jose, pointed out that abusers often use and abuse the legal system for their own advantage. The speaker reminded everyone that in the US all assets achieved after marriage equally belong to both spouses. “In a marital relationship, each spouse is entitled to his/her own immigration documents and it is very important to have copies of passports, and other important records.”

Advocate Indira Chakravorty of Maitri related her Interaction with Muslim clients of DV. She has been dealing with the Muslim clients for a number of years and currently handling five clients. Indira said that she considers them as her sisters. Maitri has helped Muslim women in the past and continues to do so by being sensitive to their prayer needs and other religious obligations.

Advocate Mahnaz from NISA spoke about the fears of many immigrant victims of domestic violence such as losing their children, losing financial assistance and of being deported. The bilingual Persian speaking advocate captivated the audience while reading a note by an Iranian client she had assisted. She highlighted the importance of knowledge about one’s personal rights and available options to get out of abusive relationships.

The program ended with a closing speech by the NISA Chairperson, Dr. M. Rajab Ally who reminded the audience that the community is finally accepting the problem of domestic violence.


Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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