A focus on financial resilience out of reach for Muslim women – Women’s Agenda

Extract from an article by Maha Abdo

We must include and support Muslim women when talking about financial resilience, says Maha Abdo, the CEO of the Muslim Women’s Association who shares her story below. This interview is published with the help of Good Shepherd Microfinance, in the lead up to the Resilient Women Summit in Sydney, supported by Women’s Agenda. 

“We’ve talked about physical abuse, we’ve talked about emotional abuse. Financial abuse is something we have to start educating both men and women about.”

Maha Abdo knows financial abuse is an issue for Muslim women in Australia. A form of family violence, where the perpetrator undermines their partner’s efforts to become economically independent, it takes much the same shape in the Muslim community as it does in the broader community.

Men not allowing their partners to work, refusing them access to a bank account, or restricting their access to money they’ve earned. Behaviour designed to assert control.

For Maha, CEO of the Muslim Women’s Association, the type of financial abuse Muslim women face isn’t unique, but the challenges they face in recognising and responding to it certainly are.

“What we’re seeing at the moment is that a whole group of highly qualified professional women, second generation of Muslim women in Australia, who are struggling to build resilience within themselves, to be able to be resilient against what is happening externally,” she says.

Muslim women have to spend so much energy looking after their spiritual selves and staying physically safe in the face of increased racism, bigotry and hatred, Maha says, that many simply don’t have the energy to consider how they’re being treated in their own homes.

“Just getting on a train is a burden. Right now you have to have your antenna up, you need to have 360 degree vision about who’s behind you, who’s on your left, who’s on your right, who’s in front of you, who’s looking at you funny. There’s a lot of hatred because you’re Muslim.

“While the majority of people are amazingly supportive, there’s a minority that’s creating that sort of fear among all of us Muslim women … I think [Muslim] women are not privileged enough to be able to identify financial abuse in a relationship.”

The decreased feeling of safety is not only impacting Muslim women’s ability for self-reflection and to identify financial abuse. It impacts women’s wiliness to reach out to support services in place to help victims of family violence…(continues)

SOURCE: Maha Abdo, “A focus on financial resilience out of reach for Muslim women”, Women’s Agenda, 25 Nov 2016

Link to full article

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