Outburst! Young Muslim Women’s Project is movement of young Muslim women in Toronto who are breaking silence and speaking out about violence. As young Muslim women, we want to determine the ways in which we define and access safety. Outburst!, a awarding winning project by the Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic (“the Clinic”), is an opportunity for us to build community through art, education and research.
With the increased focus on violence against women in Muslim communities, people often speak about us but not with us. When Aqsa Parvez was murdered in 2007, many of us Outburst! members remember exactly where we were and still feel immense sadness about her murder. She could have been one of us. We find that there is little space in the media, in institutions and our communities to have our diverse voices heard. Outburst! was formed in September 2011 by young Muslim women wanting to form an action group where we are at the centre of any discussion regarding our lives. Outburst! was named by us to exemplify how we want to speak out and be heard. We want to create more opportunities to build our own leadership capacity on the issue of violence against women.
Muslim women can face violence in many areas – in our lives, our families, communities, schools and on the street. In both the Shafia sisters & Parvez murders, the young women sought support from social services and were still killed by family members. For us, this raises questions such as, What could have been different? Were they heard when they asked for help, or turned away?
We came together to shape the conversations about violence in our communities and to define safety needs within institutions, such as mosques, school, housing, child welfare, and violence against women agencies. Outburst! is built upon our hope for safety in the lives of not only young Muslim women, but for all people.