During the Covid pandemic, the number of calls received by the Muslim Women’s Network Helpline has increased with the top calls being about domestic abuse and mental health. There has been a 38% percentage increase in the number of Muslim women and girls contacting the service.
Since its launch in 2015, the helpline has been contacted over 16000 times and has helped more than 6300 women and girls. Although the service can be contacted on over forty issues, it is predominantly called regarding abuse ranging from domestic violence, honour-based violence, forced marriage, rape and sexual harassment. Adults survivors of historical child sexual abuse also call for emotional support and counselling. Some of the survivors have even gone on to report their abuse to the police.
….the pandemic has resulted in domestic abuse calls increasing by 16% with mental health calls rising by over 20%...
The most called about issues have always been domestic abuse (making up one third of calls) and mental health (also making up one third of calls). However, the pandemic has resulted in domestic abuse calls increasing by 16% along with mental health calls rising by over 20%, which now means there is now a 4 month waiting list to receive faith and culturally sensitive counselling sessions.
More women are also contacting the helpline to enquire about Islamic divorce processes. The ‘Muslim Marriage and Divorce’ information booklet, which provides information about rights and how to navigate the process when contacting Shariah councils, has been downloaded several thousand more times within the last year. The Muslim Marriage and Divorce booklet remains the most popular resource and has been downloaded over 30,000 times since its publication three years ago. Other useful resources that can be downloaded include:In the last two years, the helpline has also started to track tech abuse. There was a noticeable rise in the number of women who were sharing concerns about being monitored, stalked or duped using technology. Some women did not even realise that what they were describing amounted to abuse. Men abroad who target vulnerable women through marriage websites by masking their calls to appear as though they are from UK mobile numbers has already been discussed in the Catfishing on Muslim Marriage Platforms.
…technology can also be used to help women and the helpline has been developing a domestic abuse mobile app…
Women have told helpline workers about finding listening devices and cameras hidden in their home, mobile settings changed to block incoming calls, to tracking movements through the location trackers on mobile phones and cars. The helpline website now provides information on how technology can be used to covertly monitor conversations and steps that can be taken so women can better protect themselves. However, technology can also be used to help women, and the helpline has been developing a domestic abuse mobile app, which will be launched later this year. Women will be able to contact the helpline via the app and be able to access useful information as well as being able keep a record of incidents.
So, if you suspect someone is experiencing difficulties whether it is abuse, anxiety or depression, do not ignore the signs. Ask if they need help and connect them to a helpline. If you are not sure what to do, you can always contact the MWN Helpline and talk your concerns through and seek advice.
MWN Helpline website: www.mwnhelpline.co.uk
Statistics and trends from the helpline and annual evaluations can be viewed here
Muslim Women’s Helpline – promotional film
Muslim Women’s Network Helpline – Update 2021 film
Although 90% of callers to the helpline are Muslim women, it has also helped men too (5%) and women of other religions such as Hindu, Sikh, Christian women including those who do not follow a faith (5%).
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