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Contrary to the common assumption that only Muslim women are victims of gender violence, some organizations acknowledge the fact that gender violence is not restricted to one religion, ethnicity or nationality.
According to El País, gender violence is very prominent in Spain. This resulted in the approval of the Law against Gender Violence on 2004. The law provides protection and support for victims of gender violence, which include support at work for victims, creation of support networks, suspension of gun license to perpetrators, punishments for those who threat or harm women, educational tools to tackle the issue, etc.
In late August, the Plataforma de Mujeres Artistas (Female Artists Platform) and the Unión de Mujeres Musulmanas (Muslim Women Union) have recently announced mutual collaboration in Spain. Both organizations aim to protect women’s rights and to educate the public on gender violence.
The collaboration between both organizations will include participation in the incoming Congress of Islamic Feminism that will take place in October. Thus, the Plataforma de Mujeres Artistas and the Unión de Mujeres Musulmanas will deliver workshops and lectures not only on gender violence but also on women’s rights.
This collaboration is a good idea in many aspects. On one hand, the presence and contributions of Muslim women in Western societies will be highlighted. On the other, these organizations will promote understanding on gender violence and they will try to dismiss the assumptions that only Muslim women are victims of this kind of violence. While little has been done to acknowledge Muslim women’s contributions to Western societies, this encounter will highlight their achievements in artistic realms and will enhance cooperation between non-Muslim and Muslim, making a point on the fact that women around the world face common challenges that transcend religion, ethnicity or nationality.
Even though for some people this may seem irrelevant, this partnership in a step forward in the strong presence that Muslim feminists have in Spain. As they mention in their website, their objectives work around Islamic doctrines but aim to enhance the position of women according to the rights and the importance that Qur’an has granted women. Islamic feminist movements are strong in Spain and this can be illustrated through the fact that the Congress of Islamic Feminism is organized by Spanish organizations.
Moreover, although both organizations have decided to prepare mainly educational workshops and seminars, this alliance might acknowledge the presence of Muslim women in different realms of public life, such as the arts. Even when little is known about this aspect of the Muslim female community around the world, there are some projects that have been created to enhance Muslim women’s participation in the artistic sphere; for example Ulfah Arts and Missing Voices.
Finally, the partnership is a great opportunity for Spanish Muslim women to strengthen their public presence not only as a religious minority, but also as a lobbying group in Spain. The engagement of Muslim women in feminist movements and women’s organizations may help dismiss current discussions on hijab in Spanish schools and public buildings and it may allow the recognition of feminist movements and women’s rights organizations that base their premises on Islamic principles in the West.