Khidmat Muslim Women in Prison Project
Khidmat Centres seeks to enable grassroots communities to maximise their potential. At the heart of this, Khidmat Centres aspires to tackle difficult and often overlooked causes such as disability, gender equality, age discrimination and criminality.
BCBN funded the making of a ground-breaking short film with Muslim women post prison release to document their experiences of incarceration. Part of this was to look at cultural barriers to resettlement such as the concept of shame, family and community
The film employed the unheard voices of family members to demonstrate the wider ripple effect of incarceration on family members. The aim of the project is to raise awareness of particular challenges affecting Muslim women prisoners, where often BAME women remain invisible in the system. To destigmatise the issue of Muslim women prisoners and prompt dialogue and discussion.
Reshma’s Case Study
Reshma lived in a family set up where she suffered years of abuse, in her own words, “from the very people who were supposed to protect me.” Within this toxic environment she witnessed an incident where someone was murdered. She was too scared for her own life to speak out. Her silence resulted in her being prosecuted and receiving a four-year custodial sentence. Her feelings of being a victim of a miscarriage of justice and her daily struggle with prison life were so overwhelming that she started to self-harm, using anything she could find. She tried to take her own life. She was reaching out for help but felt like none of the prison staff could really understand her. She was very anxious about leaving prison because she had no family or friends to go out to and nowhere to go. It was the first time in her life that she would be independent and was scared of tackling through life on her own. The support from Muslim Women in Prison project was crucial and timely. She felt the project gave her a purpose to live, and belief that she had a future. Reshma feels like her success upon release is due to the support she got from Muslim Women in Prison project. They helped give her stability, security and a new ‘work family’. With support from the project and Reshma’s new perspective in life, her self-harm as reduced significantly. She has successfully completed further education, plans on starting university soon and is an active community volunteer.