In 2016 Maslaha embarked on a collaborative project with RainLily, a crisis centre for survivors of sexual violence in Hong Kong, to develop cultural competency among front line workers working with Muslim and other ethnic minority women in Hong Kong.
RainLily approached us for consultation in relation to a pilot project they were developing specifically to support ethnic minority and migrant worker populations in Hong Kong. This involved raising awareness of sexual violence in communities, as well as working to tackle barriers that may have been preventing Muslim and other ethnic minority women from accessing RainLily’s support services.
RainLily is a branch of the Association Concerning Sexual Violence Against Women (ACSVAW), and the first local crisis centre in Hong Kong to support female sexual violence victims and their families.
Evidence gathered by RainLily  and academic researchers  in Hong Kong shows that front line service workers in Hong Kong are experiencing difficulties in effectively reaching and working with Muslim and ethnic minority women who are experiencing domestic and sexual violence. A result of this many Muslim and ethnic minority women experience complex barriers in accessing psycho-social support and protection against GBV.
A lack of cultural and religious competency and insight among service workers. Many of the frontline workers working with RainLily were unsure how to proceed when women attempting to access services referred to cultural or religious reasons as to why they felt they could not leave violent situations.
Mistrust of authority and state services by ethnic minority communities
A need to build stronger cross-cultural understanding and inter-cultural collaboration – for example between the NGO sector in Hong Kong, and religious or cultural organisations that may have sway and influence in ethnic minority communities.
 Leung, L.C. & RainLily (2015). The Effectiveness of the We Stand Programme for Female Migrant Workers and Ethnic Minority Women
 Kapai, P. (2016) Bringing Intersectionality Home: Contextualised Justice in Gender Based Violence in Hong Kong. In Barrow, A. & Chia, J.L. Gender, Violence, and the State in Asia, p.148-166. London: Routeledge, 2016
What We Did
Following a year of scoping and research, Latifa and Raheel travelled to Hong Kong in January 2017 for a 5-day programme of work which included:
An International conference on strategies for engaging Hong Kong ethnic minority communities in tackling GBV. This was hosted by Linda Wong, Executive Director of ACSVAW and many of the attendees were social workers in local communities serving ethnic minorities. In the morning Maslaha took part in a panel discussion with Puja Kapai, Associate Professor of University of Hong Kong, who shared research findings comparing the attitude of ethnic minority communities in Hong Kong and UK when facing gender-based violence.
In the afternoon we presented two workshops, the first “Working with Ethnic Minorities on Gender Based Violence” explored strategies and insights on navigating GBV in relation to religion and culture. The second, “Understanding Mental Health in Ethnic Minority Communities” drew on Maslaha’s Talking From The Heart resource on depression and mental health to explore how combining faith/cultural advice with medical advice can be a more effective way to tackle mental health issues in Muslim communities.
Developing a toolkit in collaboration with RainLily. The purpose of this was to equip front line workers in Hong Kong to work with Muslim and other ethnic minority communities. We carried out a range of site visits in Hong Kong including to Kowloon Mosque, Christian Aid, YMCA and the community action group Kung Yung Koon-Shabnam. The toolkit includes chapters on gender-based violence, gender and culture, Islamic perspectives on gender roles and supporting victims and skills. The toolkit featured interviews with imams in both the UK and Hong Kong, including Sheikh Michael Mumisa, Sheikh Ibrahim Mogra and Mufti Muhammad Arshad. We also interviewed members of specialist domestic violence services in the UK including Zalakha Ahmed from Apna Haq and Roxana Rais from Aanchal Women’s Aid.
An interfaith roundtable addressing strategies to effectively support ethnic minority women experiencing gender based violence (GBV) in Hong Kong. This was curated by RainLily, Maslaha and academics from The University of Hong Kong and was the first interfaith roundtable addressing GBV to happen in Hong Kong. The event was well attended and aimed to scope issues and experiences of barriers experienced by minority women seeking support in Hong Kong, discuss strategies to tackle notions that religion or culture endorses GBV or female subordination, share positive practice of how such beliefs have been effectively and practically discounted within a faith framework and set in motion new networks of collaboration.