Muslim women face many of the same problems as non-Muslim women; however, cultural norms often prevent Muslim women and girls from reaching out for help. The Muslim Women’s Network UK (MWNUK) recognized the need for faith and culturally sensitive services for the Muslim community, and to Muslim women and girls in particular.
Protecting Those At Risk
Modifying societal beliefs and norms are most successful when the change comes from within the community. Such a transformation is now happening after the birth of every girl in the village of Piplantri in Rajasthan, India. Villagers plant one hundred eleven (111) trees to honor the birth of the girl. The new custom aims to counteract the prevalence of female feticide by encouraging parents and villagers to plant trees in honor of a female child. It requires that parents promise to not marry their female child before adulthood, creates a community-funded trust fund for the child, and provides the community with the necessary resources to develop. Villagers have planted over 286,000 trees which are now providing not only a new tradition but environmental sustainability. In addition, villagers have planted over 2.5 million aloe vera plants which protect the trees and provide a source of livelihood. As a result, the ratio of girls to boys in Piplantri village has increased and girls are being given an equivalent position to boys in the village. The Piplantri 111 Trees has now spread to surrounding villages, broadening the respect and protection for girls.
Ujamaa Africa reduces the prevalence of rape and sexual assault in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya by teaching boys about respect for women and how to intervene in the event of an assault.
Ujamaa Africa with its No Means No Worldwide curriculum reduces the prevalence of rape and sexual assault in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya by empowering high school girls with self-defense tactics.
Operation Anti Sexual Harassment/Assault (OpAntiSH) organizes teams of volunteers to intervene when women experience sexual assault or harassment during street protests in Egypt.
The Front to Defend Egypt Protesters (FDEP) developed an approach to encourage activists and protesters at risk of arrest and detention to communicate with a volunteer network and mobilize timely legal, medical and other support.
In Lebanon, an LGBT advocacy organisation (not to be named here for privacy reasons) created a Facebook profile with no photo and no friends to safely mobilise people who needed support, community connection and/or wanted to find others interested to advocate for LGBT rights. The profile served as a way to direct people to the organisation's website without threatening their security or anonymity by publicly linking them with an LGBT organisation.
Amnesty International USA (AI USA) used Twitter to urge the United States Department of State to respond to human rights violations in Bahrain.
In Cairo, Harassmap uses SMS and mapping technology to identify areas where sexual harassment is likely to occur and partners with local shop owners to create “safe zones” in those areas.
The Network of Community Human Rights Defenders (Red de Defensores Comunitarios por los Derechos Humanos) trains young indigenous community members in Mexico to monitor and defend their human rights. Defenders are trained through monthly seminars about the theories and concepts of human rights work as well as the practical skills needed to ensure human rights violations are documented, reported and prevented. They are then able to respond to human rights violations in their communities, which are often far from big cities and large non-governmental organizations that support human rights.
For more information on this tactic, read our in-depth case study.