ESOL AND ORIENTATION TUTOR
Monday 15th July 2019
Today sees the launch of our film Sisters in Desistance as well as our good practice guide on culturally competent Community-Based Solutions for Muslim Women post-prison.
Our journey in reaching here has been full of challenges and we have had to navigate around difficult and sensitive terrains both inside the community and outside.
Our journey for developing understanding around Muslim women prisoners started in 2014 with our first report Muslim Women in Prison: Second Chance- Fresh Horizons.
As we moved forward it became abundantly clear there was a gross absence of conversation about the plight of Muslim women both within the community and amongst providers within the criminal justice setup.
The solutions to this invisibility also seemed scarce and there was a reluctance towards investing in community based and led solutions. Communities in many ways are seen more as ‘adding value’ rather than central to change and transformation.
As passionate race, gender and faith equality workers we have had to overcome scarcity of resources, lack of community led templates and disconnectivity of providers and the community with the challenges faced by Muslim women prisoners. All this had to be mitigated against the real concerns of women around their protection, dignity and at the same time supporting them to break the silence. We had to ask ourselves very real questions about what it takes to reclaim back our communities bearing in mind the inequalities and disadvantages playing out for BAME communities, especially BAME women coming through the CJS. For us, the way forward is that specialist community rehabilitation needs to be rooted in the very communities which women are returning to.
The model described in Sisters in Desistance is one example of perhaps how communities can begin to empower themselves with learning and solutions. We are confident that this can be used as a model of best practice across the UK.
Sofia Buncy is the researcher and co-author of the first ever report into Muslim Women in British Prisons. She is also the founder and Coordinator of the Muslim Women in Prison Rehabilitation Project and is developing a national reputation for her rehabilitation work with Muslim Women Prisoners. She is regarded as a specialist in this area of criminal justice with unique insight into the particular and additional cultural challenges faced by Muslim women whilst in prison and post-prison from an institutional and community perspective.
Ishtiaq Ahmed is the currently the Strategic Policy and Project Development Officer at Khidmat Centres as well as the Strategic Policy Advisor to the Bradford Council for Mosques. He has vast experience nearing four decades of campaigning on equality issues, community development and interfaith. Through his working career, Ishtiaq has tirelessly campaigned on equality issues. He has helped to establish a wide range of pioneering community based and led initiatives, strongly believing that the empowerment of communities is key to challenging and addressing prevalent inequalities in and around us.
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