A new national helpline aimed at Muslim women and girls who are at risk of violence, abuse and harassment has been launched.
The initiative by the Muslim Women’s Network UK (MWNUK) will offer specialised support to women on issues from mental health to abortion, taking into account callers cultural and religious backgrounds.
Shaista Gohir MBE, chair of MWNUK, said: “Muslim women and girls will be able to contact the helpline about a range of issues such as sexual violence, forced marriage, domestic violence, female genital mutilation, discrimination, mental health, self harm, marriage, divorce and polygamy.
“More women and girls will get the help they need. The helpline will be an important step towards seeing an increase in the reporting of violence.”
The charity, which is run by three part-time staff, set up the helpline to overcome cultural issues which often pose barriers to Muslim women seeking help because of the risk of shame, stigma and being rejected by the community.
Jo Swinson, the minister for women and equalities who attended the launch said: “Violence towards women and girls is never acceptable.
“The helpline provided by the MWNUK will be a valuable resource to vulnerable women, and is a vital step to raising awareness of the number of people at risk of, and suffering from, abuse.”
The drive was launched in Birmingham at a women, media, sexism and online abuse event last Wednesday (14).
“The largely negative portrayal of Muslim women in the media as ‘not integrated enough’ is resulting in rising Islamophobia and discrimination against them. We are already being contacted for advice.” Faeeza Vaid, executive director of MWNUK, said.
The helpline is available on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 10am to 1pm, and Saturdays from 7pm to 9pm on 0800 999 5786 and 0303 999 5786. For details, see http://www.mwn helpline.co.uk