Australia: Arabic speakers find help to flee violence

Bringelly via GINSC
Arabic-speaking women in south-west Sydney, Australia can now find it easier to seek help in escaping from an abusive situation at home.
Iranian born Mahasti Zahrooni was appointed as a domestic violence trainee specialist at Joan Harrison Support Services for Women (JHSSW) in Liverpool last September.
Her position was created thanks to $38,000 in funding that the organisation received from Mounties, Mount Pritchard, through the Community Development and Support Expenditure Scheme.

Ms Zahrooni speaks both Arabic and Farsi (the official language of Iran) as well as English. She works 15 hours a week and so far her work has involved a lot of training and legal cases.

"Helping women who are suffering from domestic violence is something that I've always wanted to do," Ms Zahrooni said.

"I will be the service's link to the Arabic community and I'm going to help women to come forward and speak out about the violence they're suffering."

She said many Arabic-speaking women were abused in their homes but did not come forward due to cultural factors. "Many women are worried about bringing shame on their families and are fearful of the police," Ms Zahrooni said.

"Of course, many of them also have a language barrier because they can't speak English, so they can't speak to the police at all. That's where I will come in."

JHSSW co-ordinator for crisis and domestic violence services, Gerri Greenfield, said she was delighted to give Ms Zahrooni an employment opportunity she may otherwise not have had access to. "With Mahasti on board we will be able to offer support to an increased number of local Arabic-speaking women," Ms Greenfield said.

For domestic violence support, call Joan Harrison Support Services for Women, +61 9822 2568.

By: Anne Tarasov

9 April 2006

Source: Bringelly