I asked myself (silently), more than representing the diverse community in Toronto, why would we need hijabi officers in the community? He told me that in the Rexdale area, they unfortunately (remember we live in 2013 going on to 2014), get many cases of domestic abuse and he told me that a lot of these women are uncomfortable disclosing to the officers their situation, let alone the details. He told me, imagine then the level of comfort and openness they would feel if they saw a female, hijabi as an officer.
When he said that I remembered my time helping out with Mercy Mission Canada and the launch and establishment of the Women's Resource Centre and the Muslim Women's Helpline - during our conversations in the preliminary stages of the work, the issue of domestic violence and abuse was and I think continues to be, at the forefront in ensuring victims of such abuse (some of the stories will haunt you to the very core of your being) have an outlet and a support system they can rely on. I shared this with the cop and he unfortunately attested to the reality of domestic abuse in our communities.
I took his card and flyer, said I'd consider it and left the bazaar. Shortly after (literally an hour later), a dear friend called me to ask what she should do, as she too was starting to find herself in a similar situation of domestic abuse. Two weeks ago, another friend of a friend was filing for divorce because she couldn't take the abuse anymore and called the cops on her husband.
The sad reality is that no matter how "advanced" or "feminist" our societies have become, the reality is that domestic violence and abuse - emotional, physical and psychological - happen on a daily and regular basis; some women withstand it because they have kids, some withstand it because they aren't able to find work and won't be able to live on their own, and others do it because patiently persevering it will give them reward and God will help them out.
Whether you agree with me or not, it's your prerogative. But there are a couple of things I will say:
- If you're in such a situation, get out. It takes no genius to tell you that kids growing up in a broken home doesn't help them, and it certainly won't help the parents. Don't let culture and the "shame" you'll bring to the family's name stop you from doing so.
- No man has the right to treat you like trash. In the eyes of God, we are all equal - yes men and women were made differently - but God didn't prefer one gender over the other. In fact, there is a Hadith where the Prop Muhammad SAW said that the best of you is he who is best to his wives (paraphrased).
- And if you're sticking around because of patience, then I leave you a quote by Yasmin Mogahed from her video on Sabr (Patience): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6mzFJikLyG8
"A lot of times, women are told that if they're being mistreated or abused, they're told to be patient. This concept of being patient against oppression is something that is not an Islamic concept...our body belongs to Allah swt...if someone is mistreating our body, they're mistreating a trust that Allah swt has given us and so it's upon us to take care of it; and part of taking care of it is not letting anyone harm it, oppress it, take over it."