The Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) South Africa and its Women’s Forum, in partnership with Islamic Relief, is expected to host several initiatives in response to high levels of gender-based-violence In Cape Town. It forms part of their ongoing commitment to honour the 16 Days of Activism against No Violence Against Women and Children, which is globally commemorated between 25 November and 10 December.
At a press briefing at the MJC Head office in Athlone on Monday, 25 November 2019, the council expressed its deep concern about rising levels of Gender-Based Violence. In a statement, the MJC described the scourge as an “illness which affects all communities irrespective of race or class.”
Under the slogan “It starts with me- unsilence the violence”, the campaign will emphasise the need for individuals to take action against any and all forms of abuse and raise the status of women back to its high-ranking position, as according to Islam.
It was emphasised that men have a major role to play in changing how society views women and that young men need to encourage each other to be cognisant of the way they speak about and treat women. It was further highlighted that muslim men who justify the abuse of their wives and/or daughters need to be rectified and reminded that it is their duty to honour and protect women.
MJC deputy president, Moulana Abdul Khaliq Allie, reiterated that men must take a stand:
“It really starts with me, that I must be a man that stands for the well being of women and children.”
The campaign calls upon men to take ownership of the fight against GBV. In a statement the campaign calls on men to say:
- It starts with me to be a protector
- It starts with me to create safety for women and children
- It starts with me to stand up for justice, even if it is against my own
- It starts with me to hold myself to account, should I be a perpetrator.
- It starts with me to hold my brother to account, and not turn a blind eye.
The Women’s Forums Muallimah Gadieja Patel-Allie said that the statistics speak for itself and addressing this issue requires a community effort.
“It is appalling to repeat the statistics. We know that it is not a women’s fight, it’s a community fight that starts with the individual. The intention is to role out a campaign that can be consistent right through the year,” said Patel-Allie.
Patel-Allie expressed excitement as she described how various youth will become ambassadors that will lead the programmes, which commence in January 2020. She added that the workshops and programmes targeting young men, including at school.
“We have young men speaking to young men about the importance of honouring women, being their protectors, saying “non” to abuse. Ensure we are holding each other to account tin terms of good behaviour, even the way we speak about women. It’s a complex, multi-pronged approach that needs to be had,” pressed the Muallimah.
Islamic Relief South Africa CEO, Yusuf Mohamed, added that the campaign is a result of years of collaboration with different organisations. This included catalysts programmes from 2017, which saw religious and community leaders and other individuals received training. He added that religious organisations have a major role to play.
“This is the official roll-out of months of collaboration, working with different religious bodies to create a “tool-kit” to address the problem. Dealing with the root causes within our communities and looking at viable solutions requires you to look at t from different perspectives. We know we cannot use the same cut and paste method, region to region (problems) will differ,” explained Mohammed.
“There is a need for faith-based approaches to many of the issues and challenges society is facing. Even though we are looking at it from an Islamic perspective we see that the solutions are all embracing and not limited to Muslims only,” added Mohamed.
Patel-Allie said the womens forum is hopeful that shifting the conversation will be impactful.
“This belongs to all of us. We have to own our statics and ensure our intimate faces first, are dealt with. We must be educated and on par with what is happening. But, more than that, we have to live lives that are conscious of the fact that we have to be accountable for what we do. Pour that out into others where we are working toward creating a positive, healthy community,” encouraged Patel-Allie.
The MJC further called on Imams and all religious leaders across all communities, to address the issue of GBV with the sensitivity and seriousness it deserves.
Upcoming initiatives include a GBV workshop on Tuesday, 26 November at the MJC (SA)offices in Athlone, a unified Khutbah on Friday, 29 November, a picket on the 30th November 2019.