Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Rise of the Religious Right and the Impact on Women

June's GMH Meeting was a talk about the rise of the religious right and the impact on women in the UK, given by Sandhya Sharma.

The talk started with a video dating back 20 or so years showing how women in minority, primarily Asian, communities in London started to demonstrate against the then rise of religious fundamentalism and how they were ignored by the anti-racist and leftist movements. Also how women in Bradford around the same time started to demonstrate against domestic violence in their communities and how the religious leaders and the political left tried to shut them up.  Moving on to more recent times Sandhya explained how there’d been a gradual shift from state sponsored secular services, e.g. welfare and housing services, towards services run by religious institutions. Austerity measures from the government had heightened the effect with almost no public money going into entirely secular services like the Asian Refuge (for women and children fleeing domestic violence or forced marriages) with which Sandhya was involved.  However the people providing the services run by religious institutions are often from the very communities the women are seeking refuge from. And rather than holding the perpetrators responsible for their immoral, and sometimes illegal, actions, e.g. in matters related to domestic violence and abuse, their preference is often to take a conciliatory approach and unite the parties again.

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