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Addressing domestic violence in religious communities in the era of decolonising knowledge

Efforts to address domestic violence in religious communities are not new. Numerous initiatives by academics, practitioners and religious believers have emerged that recognise the need for a close engagement with religious beliefs and religious personnel, historically neglected in the secular domestic violence sectors dominant in Northern societies. While increasing attention has been given to issues around ethnicity and race, with more community-based organisations sprouting to support ethnic minority groups and populations less integrated in mainstream society, much more needs to happen to achieve a substantive engagement with religio-cultural worldviews and to understand how these intertwine with collective histories, gender norms and individual psychologies to affect attitudes about and responses to domestic violence in communities of distinct religio-cultural traditions.

Moreover, western societies’ particular relationship to ‘religion’ has meant a deeply-rooted discomfort vis-à-vis religious beliefs in public life, which has likely impeded domestic violence practitioners from appreciating fully the resourcefulness of religious traditions and beliefs. Problematically also, less attention has been given to non-western religious contexts, reflecting the continuation of western Euro-centric legacies in domestic violence research and public health practice. Efforts to learn from Southern societies and to employ this knowledge to build more religio-culturally sensitive domestic violence support systems in Northern societies are much needed, but still missing.

This webinar presented on current approaches to domestic violence in religious communities from around the world and explored their contributions, identifying directions for the future. A main objective was to examine past and current approaches with reflexivity to the limitation of western understandings of ‘religion’ and to contribute to a diversification of domestic violence understandings and approaches by promoting more Southern-Northern knowledge exchange.


The webinar was hosted by Dr Romina Istratii, UKRI Future Leaders Fellow in the School of History, Religions and Philosophies at SOAS University of London and current Principal Investigator of the UKRI-funded project “Bridging religious studies, gender & development and public health to address domestic violence: A novel approach for Ethiopia, Eritrea and the UK.”


Prof Nancy-Nason Clark, Professor Emerita of Sociology, the University of New Brunswick and Principal Investigator of the RAVE Project

Nancy Nason-Clark is a recently retired professor of Sociology at the University of New Brunswick (in Canada) and the PI of the RAVE Project, a research initiative that was funded by the Lilly Endowment She received her PhD from the London School of Economics and Political Science in England. She is the author or editor of 15 books, including Religion and Intimate Partner Violence (with Fisher-Townsend, Holtmann and McMullin; Oxford University Press, 2017), and Men Who Batter (with Fisher-Townsend; Oxford University Press, 2015).

Mandy Marshall, Director for Gender Justice at the Anglican Communion Office

Mandy Marshall is the Director for Gender Justice at the Anglican Communion Office. Mandy has travelled and trained internationally on gender justice and ending gender based violence in over 20 countries in the last 15 years including Central and South America, Europe, Africa, and Asia. Previously Mandy Co-Founded and Co-Directed Restored, an international Christian charity working to end violence against women with and through the church. Mandy has authored many articles and resources on the issue of engaging faith in gender justice.

Huda Jawad, Faith and Community Programme Manager at Standing Together Against Domestic Violence

Huda Jawad was born in Baghdad and left Iraq at the age of two. She travelled the Middle East throughout her childhood eventually arriving as a political refugee and settling in the UK in 1988. Huda has held various positions in local government, national and international NGOs and charities tackling a range of issues including social exclusion, justice, equality. In 2011, she was the coordinator for a research project that tracked the lives of 100 women who had left their abusive partners, for three years. She is a member of Musawah, the global movement for equality and justice in the Muslim family, and is also a 2017 Clore Social Fellow and Co-Chair of End Violence Against Women Coalition, working to end violence against women and girls in all its forms in the UK.

Mahmoud Ali Gomaa Afifi, PhD student at the University of Lancaster

Mahmoud Afifi is currently in his fourth year of a PhD study programme in Religious Studies at Lancaster University of UK. His topic deals with the interpretation of Quran 4: 34 in connection with the treatment of wife abuse in Muslim communities across the UK. Mahmood received his undergraduate education at Al-Azhar University in Cairo Egypt in Islamic studies and English translation, and received his MA in Islamic Studies from Claremont Graduate University in California, USA in 2012 on the topic of gender violence.

Presentations were followed by a Q&A with the audience.

The video of the webinar can be watched below:

Addressing domestic violence in religious communities from Project dldl/ድልድል on Vimeo.