Purple Dandelion: A Muslim Woman's Struggle Against Violence and Oppression

Author(s): Farida Sultana & Shila Nair

Biography / Memoir

Purple Dandelion is the true story of Farida Sultana, an extraordinary Muslim woman and single mother. The book is a reflection of her personal journey as an unconventional child who struggled through her adulthood and married life. Being a survivor of violence and abuse, Farida emerged as a strong advocate against all forms of violence and cultural and religious oppression against women.


The book chronicles her remarkable life. It begins in Bangladesh when as a young girl, she found herself in conflict with her traditional family values and the Islamic culture that prevents girls and women from learning music and arts. Later her arranged marriage to a doctor at the age of 18 took her to war-torn Iran with her husband and young daughter, then to the UK and finally to New Zealand.


At each stage of the journey, she attempts to capture the nuances, sights and sounds of the events that she became a part of as she continued on her quest to find herself - in Bangladesh during its freedom struggle, in Iran during the Iran-Iraq war, in England as a single mother and a survivor of domestic violence, and in New Zealand as an immigrant woman. Soon after her arrival in New Zealand, Farida became aware that there were many more immigrant women like her who had to overcome domestic violence and the oppressive, patriarchal societies they lived in. Their need drove her to initiate Shakti, which set up the first ethnic women's refuge in the country. What was conceived as an essential support group for migrant and refugee women has grown into the largest ethnic community organisation in New Zealand, bringing together women and families of over 42 different ethnicities.


Purple Dandelion brings to life the experiences and struggles of some of these courageous women. In recognition of her work, Farida was awarded the Queen's Service Medal for Community Service in 2003. In recent years she has been working in Asian and Middle Eastern countries encouraging women to condemn violence and claim their human rights.

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Farida Sultana has been working in the area of violence against women for over 17 years. She first became associated with Shakti AID UK as a survivor of violence and then as a volunteer. In 1995 she started Shakti in New Zealand. Farida is an advocate for various migrant and refugee issues, works closely with the wider communities and also serves on various boards in New Zealand. She has one adult daughter. Shila Nair (co-author) qualified and worked as a journalist in India for 15 years before she migrated to New Zealand with her husband. She has since divorced and has requalified as a counsellor. Being a survivor of violence herself, she is a passionate advocate for the cause of violence against women. She has been working with Shakti since 2002.

Foreword by Helen Clark -- Acknowledgements -- Prologue -- A good Muslim girl -- The Madrasa -- Dolls and childbirth -- Nina, Shazia and Jahan Ara -- Spreading my wings -- Losing Abba -- My nikah -- Maya -- In Iran -- A good Muslim wife -- The modern-day slave -- Love in the midst of war -- Working on the marriage -- Farewell, Iran -- Through Turkey -- Brick Lane -- Where can I turn? -- Life in the women's refuge -- Maya returns -- Struggle for survival -- Reconciliation in Brunei -- The land of the long white cloud -- Shakti, New Zealand -- Cultural differences -- Shakti finds a home -- At the crossroads -- Different paths, different journeys -- Refuge for migrant women -- Believing in myself -- Discovering dyslexia -- Karamjit Kaur -- An unexpected award -- A new journey -- Being Muslim -- Keeping the faith -- Finding myself -- Epilogue.

General Fields

  • : 9781921497537
  • : Exisle Publishing (Australia)
  • : Exisle Publishing (Australia)
  • : April 2011
  • : 234mm X 153mm
  • : Australia
  • : March 2011
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : 305.48697092
  • : 247
  • : 30 colour photographs
  • : Farida Sultana & Shila Nair
  • : Paperback
  • : 411