Falling Walls Initiative

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Breaking the Silence: Community Forums on Addressing Gender-based Violence


Falling Walls Initiative is excited to launch the next phase of a project titled, Breaking the Silence: Community Forums on Addressing Gender-Based Violence (GBV). The project is focused on building a local grassroots, policy, and advocacy movement to eradicate GBV in the Muslim community with a focus on the DC-metropolitan area. This phase of the project is based on previous community-based research and advocacy based on the unique barriers Muslim Americans face in attaining victim services. Findings from the initial report  have been disseminated to 400 plus individuals, especially direct services providers, policymakers, researchers, and student groups on college campuses.

We are using the term gender-based violence, which is defined as violence directed towards an individual because of their gender. Please see below for Asian & Pacific Islander Institute on Domestic Violence’s spiral on gender-based violence as it pertains to girls and women.

Forms of Gender-based Violence

Copyright: APIIDV Life Spiral of Gender-Based Violence

This phase of the project will focus on holding a series of community forums that coincide with Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Human Trafficking Awareness Month, the National Crime Victims Rights Week, Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and so forth. The community forums will focus on creating a safe space for a dialogue between local Muslim communities and direct services providers, policy advocates, policy-driven researchers, criminal justice agencies, and individuals focused on ending GBV. The aim of this yearlong project includes the following key goals:

  • Raising Awareness: The aim is to increase awareness on a) current definitions on forms of GBV; b) how are such definitions encompassing or lacking as they pertain to Muslim communities and our experience with GBV; c) an understanding of laws and legal rights afforded to victims of GBV and how they pertain to Muslim American communities; d) awareness on local victim services available to Muslim communities; and, e) forthcoming legislation, polices, and consultations on GBV.
  • Community Empowerment: One of the basic tenants of our project is the community has the answers to preventing GBV. As long as communities aren’t respected and given the opportunity to create a framework that is accessible, it is the community that will continue to suffer. Therefore, one of the key tenants of our initiative is to solicit feedback from community members on how do we create a victim-centered narrative on ending GBV in Muslim communities that is comprehensive and encompasses the individual, community, and state-level barriers Muslim American communities face. We will use restorative justice practices and community-based research to ask for community feedback on the forms of awareness and tools community members need in order to end GBV.
  • Action: One of the key goals of this initiative is to galvanize current community members to take the next step towards action. This means serving as a resource for individuals interested in engaging their own local networks and consistently communicating ways the local Muslim community can be involved in the larger mainstream work being done to end GBV. Additionally, given the DC-metro area is in close proximity to key advocacy, government, and grassroots organizations focused on ending GBV, we are hoping to create a core group of Muslim individuals that can focus on increasing the visibility and presence of the Muslim community in these circles.

At the end of this phase, we will issue a report documenting the successes and challenges we experienced in order to help other communities across the country interested in creating grassroots initiatives to end GBV in Muslim American communities. Second, we will include a 10 point plan of what local Muslim communities are asking for in regards to ending GBV in the Muslim community, which will shape subsequent phases of this initiative.

For more information and how to get involved, contact us


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