Jun 21 2012 by Hannah Bewley, Harrow Observer
A MUSLIM who faces challenges as a single mother has started a support network for women in the same position.
Misbah Akhtar, 31, said after separating from her husband she received very little support from Muslim organisations and was shunned by her community because of the stigma of divorce.
The enterprising mother set up a Facebook group, Single Muslim Mums, which women from Harrow and around the world visit for advice and encouragement.
The page has attracted 600 users since it was created a year ago.
She said: “Many single mothers feel isolated from their community; they are not encouraged to speak up about their struggles in an attempt to console other women, rather they are warned to keep quiet and suffer alone so as not to bring shame on their families.
“There is no organisation in place for them where they can go to for help or just to meet other single Muslim mothers.”
Ms Akhtar said a Muslim woman should not be out after dark for the sake of her own safety, which makes it difficult to collect her children, and a Muslim woman is not allowed to be alone with a male stranger, so it is difficult to let a landlord or a builder into the house.
The mother of Zarra and Daiyaan, who go to Norbury School in Harrow, said: “I was surprised by the response when I made it [the Facebook page]. I am now setting up a website for Single Muslim Mums and I’m hoping to set up a charity.”
Sara Khan, who runs the national human rights charity, Inspire, said: “Divorce is one of those things that Muslim communities don’t like to talk about. In a lot of cases the women take on looking after the children and they have to become mothers, fathers and homemakers and they end up getting very little support. We need to change attitudes but the challenges are very diverse.”