Help a Phone Call Away for Distressed Muslim Women

By Bushra Baseerat

HYDERABAD: Fed up with unending marital problems, Ayesha Fatima, 25, wanted freedom from the bitter relationship and was toying with the idea of seeking divorce. She was planning to petition the mahila court when a friend of her’s passed on a helpline number.

In a confused state after finding herself on the edge, she dialled the helpline- 66632672. After listening to a soft and soothing voice, Ayesha opened up to an unknown woman at the other end of the line.

She counselled Ayesha Fatima for half an hour. That settled things. She decided to make the first move to end the uneasy relationship and speak to her husband.

The helpline, started by Muslim Girls Association (MGA), a 12- year-old city-based body involved in promoting Islamic education among the community, has given a new hope for many young and just married women to bail them out of suffocating circumstances, be it a family dispute or problems between the couple or adjusting with the husband’s family or the stress arising from bringing up a child.

“With the community straying from the Islamic path, there has been a considerable rise in dowry harassment, maintenance and divorce cases. People are falling prey to material comforts,” Dr Asma Zehra, a medical practitioner and founder-member of the association, told ‘TOI’.

“Hundreds of young girls and women call us with simple problems which they can solve on their own and in turn make things complicated. Reluctance to discuss these issues with their parents further compounds the problem. We counsel around 15 cases a month and clarify their doubts,” she added.

For Afshan Jabeen, an insurance consultant, a minor misunderstanding with her husband took their marital relationship to the verge of breaking. “I got appropriate advice to speak to my husband with a calm mind before taking any decision. It saved my marriage,” Afshan said.

The association is planning to start pre-marital counselling sessions shortly for young Muslim girls so that their queries as to how to behave in different circumstances could be answered.

From career guidance, seminars on various topics, visiting houses to convincing parents to educate their daughters, to undertaking counselling for young girls and distributing educative booklets, the MGA has started a silent revolution.

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