Durban - Issues facing the Muslim community, which many may find taboo discussing, including drug abuse, adultery, homosexuality and human trafficking, will be discussed at an Islamic women’s high tea on Saturday.
Tales of the Sisterhood (TOSH), an organisation that highlights and addresses issues that may often be swept under the carpet, will take centre stage at its annual charity and high tea workshop at the Al-Ansaar hall in West Road, Overport.
A group of six women authors tackle this and other issues through their books, social media and empowerment workshops.
TOSH founder and the author of 6 Broken Hearts, Nabeela Noorani, of Port Elizabeth, said there was a dire need to empower Muslim women subjected to issues that have become increasingly relevant.
“When I decided to start a blog and later my social media page, Tales of the Sisterhood, in 2015, I chose to address taboo topics through fictional stories.
"However, from the responses I received, I found that many women were battling with the same types of situations in reality,” said the 28-year-old.
“After recruiting more writers, we became a unit and tackled hard hitting problems like cheating spouses, pornography and homosexuality, and we try to educate the public through the word of Islam and our various forms of writings.”
The mother of three will launch her second book, In Honours Name, at the event.
“When we write books, we look at pertinent issues. In my latest book, I talk about a young Muslim woman’s struggle to break free from the shackles of her family.
"Many women would be able to relate and see that they are not bound to a certain norm because it is considered acceptable to society.
“Within the organisation, we believe women should be able to express themselves, especially when it comes to the violation of their rights.
"Some of the problems we have come across include women being cheated out of their inheritance and being compelled to give up their salaries to their husbands because it is considered the right thing to do.
"There are many who are denied their own sexual fulfilment but remain silent as it is considered a taboo subject.”
She continued: “Women also find themselves becoming ‘slaves’ to their husbands and in-laws and are often made to feel guilty or are subjected to physical and mental abuse.
“They are often too afraid or ashamed to walk away out of fear of abuse or reprisal from their families and communities. This leads to a lack of motivation and confidence.”
Noorani added that these hard hitting life challenges are targeted at the workshops.
“We had our first workshop in Johannesburg last year, which was a success.
"This year we chose to hold it in Durban as there is a large Muslim community with women who need help.
“We want to give them hope that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and that they do not have be silent or oppressed, but empowered enough to express themselves.”
TOSH writer, Neymat Raboobee, 21, of Morningside, will launch her first book, Chains of Fear, at the workshop.
It is the story of a young woman dominated by her family and is now trying to find a way to stand on her own two feet.
Raboobee said her journey into empowering women began in 2013 while writing motivational and inspirational pieces, which she shared on her blog The Imperfect Muslimah.
“Before I could have my book published, I would put up short writings on my blog and social media addressing issues that many young women are faced with but often keep silent about.
"After receiving great feedback from people saying they feel the same way, I decided to go ahead with my book.
“Through my journey, I have discovered that although it is important for children to obey their parents, many parents do not realise they also have responsibilities to fulfil, which is to listen to their children’s troubles, and not just brush it off because it is considered something that is not spoken of.”
Raboobee said her future plan to empower more women was through a podcast, which would allow them to speak out about their struggles, and gain advice and motivation.
The author of Rohingya The Sold Dream, Mumtaz Moosa Saley, 29, of Johannesburg, tackles the issues of human trafficking and sexual exploitation.
“I was contacted by an organisation that assisted people who were victims of human trafficking in refugee camps in Rohingya to share their plight as media was oppressed and could not report on what was happening.
"Through my blog, I began sharing these horrific stories of what they had to endure. Women and children were being raped and sold, but no one knew, this was the harsh reality.
“Through my book and social media, I am able to highlight what is happening around the world, which I hope will save more people from becoming victims.
"I am also able to bring to light that young boys are being trafficked and it is an issue in South African as well.”
The mother of four, aims to empower women at the workshop.
“I try to empower women to take care of their own needs. Women often feel that because they are married and have children, it is no longer about them and that they have to only please their husbands, in-laws and children, often finding themselves becoming depressed.
“I educate them to think about themselves and to pursue their own dreams. If they want to study or go out with their friends to an event, they should not hold back or feel guilty.”
Motivational speaker and author of Ink of Inspiration, Naadira Chhipa, 30, of Verulam, uses her motivational pieces to spread awareness on drug abuse, homosexuality, gossip and slander.
“These are just a handful of issues that hurt people. Slandering and gossip is something that has plagued the Muslim and Indian community. People are so easily judged.
"In some cases, if you do not form part of the ‘elite’ society, you are judged or considered an invisible.
“Women are also afraid of being judged when they want a divorce because they are victims of abuse or adultery, they are told to have Sabr (patience), but that is impossible when you are being violated.”
Chhipa, a mother of one, added: “Many women stay in abusive relationships because of their children, or they are afraid of the stigma that will surround them.
"They do not want to disappoint their families or tarnish the name, but I often ask, what about yourself? Your happiness? How long can you survive in such situations before breaking down?
“We also try to have these issues highlighted to the men of the community. The Moulana reads out of our motivational work to the men at mosques, which we hope will enable them to change how they look at and treat their wives.”
She further added that it was vital women equip themselves to stand on their own.
“If a woman wants to study, go for it. Just because you are a stay-at-home mother does not mean you should put your own needs and desires on hold. If you want to get your degree, go for it.
“You will build your own confidence and be self-motivated, so you will be able to conquer any obstacle thrown at you.”
Other members of the organisation include, Nabeela Vad Walla and Halima bint Ahmed.
The organisation’s annual charity and high-tea workshop also strives to raise funds for the SRS Madrassah in Overport. The speakers include Dr Raeesa Aboobaker, who will speak on healthy living and lifestyle changes, and Radio Islam host Zaakirah Ansaarmia.
She will speak on spiritual upliftment through the word of Islam.
Jameela Sayed will launch the third edition of her cookbook, Cooking and Baking Creations.
For enquiries, call Neymat Raboobee on 081 746 0527.