@Unseen - I meant Roman Catholic and maybe what you said there "Renaissance Christians"..
I'll read something about them after I read something about cats thats been nagging at me : )
I am having a book about cats published. What has been nagging you? (Better reply in a private message or in the Atheist Cats group.)
I think she needs to start over in a new community unless she can get a restraining order and somehow scare her husband and his family enough that they will leave the children alone.
I think she should move out of state, go into hiding (wait to wear the veil once she is in another large, anonymous city), and get help from the government at her new place. It's not going to be easy. She'll probably have to spend time in shelters until she can get new housing.
How many times have the children been kidnapped? And they are talking about international kidnapping now! That's not something she can fight. That's the end of the story.
I don't think rational people are capable of truly understanding insanity.
I would strongly suggest you ask this question on one of the ex-muslim forums. It is better to talk to people who actually have some understanding of the religion and problems she will face than a forum of predominantly middle class ex-christian white men.
"So I guess I'm asking from an outsider's perspective how I can be of support to her in a way that would be helpful." is probably not a question you want answered by other outsiders. No matter how well intentioned we may be.
This would seem like a good site to ask your question. http://www.councilofexmuslims.com/
I suggest reading and watching anything with Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
If this woman regards herself as a Muslim and doesn't want to consider giving up this religion, Plan B might be to do a little research and send her to a more liberal and less fundamentalist part of the religion. Just like Christianity has a spectrum ranging from the Unitarians on one end and Wesboro Baptist-types on the other, I'm sure it's much the same with Islam. Find a liberal mosque and have her go there for help.
Also, a bit of advice to take or leave. Many people—and especially females (probably due to ingrained maternal instincts—are vulnerable to becoming codependently-related to needy people. (Codependency isn't limited to people dealing with addicts. It can also apply to people who tend to feel a need to become helpers.)
If you want to help, great. Just remember that this isn't really your problem and there is a risk of becoming enmwshed in her life in a way that may bring unneeded risks into your life, especially if you take her into your home. Your priimary job is the protection of you and your children. If there is any risk of some of her relatives showing up at your place to do some honor killing or even just to kidnap her, it is better handled by someone better prepared to handle it.
My first thought is to explain the root of the idea. So there's obviously the fact that women have been treated like second-class citizens or worse for the majority of history to consider. It's worth mentioning that Islam was created during this time, that its teachings were patched together in a time when it was fairly kosher for women to be considered property. Shunning's a horrid mass defense mechanism. Putting yourself in the shunner's shoes, there has to be a great deal of insecurity there.
Wow this is tough. I live with a single muslim mom who was divorced from an abusive marriage a few years ago too. We also struggle financially because of it. However, I guess I'm lucky in a way because my culture is much more liberal. My dad's father for example took my mom's side and told her to divorce his son (he spends more time chatting and joking on the phone with my mom... his ex-daughter in law... than my father... his own son... lol everyone hates my dad actually... he's an odd case). And no one in my family is strict enough to wear a burqa. So I'm guessing she's from a very strict background, and I'm somewhat familiar with it due to a couple of friendships.
Depending on what state you're in, I would advise that she goes to a shelter immediately... with the children. Custody disputes can last for years and it is impossible to have her and her children go through this abusive situation. She will not leave her children, I can bet you anything... please don't suggest that she leaves her children behind because that could cause her to not trust you (if she is strictly religious herself). Any high security shelter that provides total security (there are always a few of those in every state) or an organization that offers protection from women that is very secretive is also a good option. Unless she has strong family support in the US, then I would suggest she does that. If she has some sort of support, then she could seek another social worker... there is often a culturally sensitive department in family social work (like a poli-cultural centre). If all fails, find a muslim feminist group (there should be at least one liberal muslim feminist group in the states... find them and get her the support she needs). The woman definitely needs to change her home, and not notify her husband or her husband's family of that home. She needs to keep her location secret and trust very few people until she can perhaps get a restraining order on her husband and his family or at least a court ruling. Do not ask her to leave her religion now because she will not trust you. None of the things that I have mentioned require her to leave her religion. Islam permits divorce to women, no sect can fully deny this. Islam also permits divorce and custody to women on the basis of spousal abuse, there is a number of examples from the hadiths/ traditions (prophet's stories) that give precedence to this law. She is not obligated under any sense to avoid non-muslim family courts. Try to get her to understand her rights, slowly. She has the right to protect herself and her children from this abuse. And she has the right to seek the police in doing it and take all legal measures necessary. She is probably afraid of making her children lose their father or extended family, but trust me, they will thank her just like I thank my mom for leaving my dad and protecting us from him. Also, in most cases if she goes to a shelter, the government will speed up her housing papers and will put her on the urgent waiting list (normal waiting lists can last for yearssss). And if they take the children, she may NEVER be able to see them again... I have met many people who have had this done to them.. it is horrible... because you cannot enforce canadian laws on foreign countries... especially corrupt foreign countries. Also, let her understand that shelters are not always as shabby and dirty as portrayed on tv... some of them are really respectable welcoming and comfortable and most importantly safe places! She may not want to go in fear of making her children put up with a bad situation, when some shelters are actually really great.
I'll give her the hug, not sure if I can tell her that you said... but I'll think of you while hugging her? :P