Ms Farhat Shaheen Interview

An Interview took place with Farhat Shaheen, on our WhatsApp-Based group called Women Rights and Sexual Minorities. She is a British Asian Pakistani professional, who is working in the Bolton community for more than a decade. Farhat holds degree in Psychology, is a qualified CBT (Cognitive Behaviour therapist) counsellor, a school governor and providing voluntarily service at the local Magistrate Court. It was our pleasure to have her on our group.

Before the start of the group Razia Sultana Junejo shared Farhat Shaheen’s picture and her introduction.

Razia Sultana Junejo: We are starting now, thanks Farhat for giving us time. Please tell us your experience in working with women in the community.

Farhat Shaheen: Salaam! Thank you for the opportunity:)

Ali: welcome Farhat

Nasir Abid: Walaykumusalam

Farhat Shaheen: I have worked in the local community for the last 15 years & especially with Asian women:)

Ali: great to have you

Nasira :  welcome

Farhat Shaheen: Thank you ladies. I am a qualified Counsellor & I have been doing that for the last 15 years:)

Razia Sultana Junejo:  Why do you think that there is still big gap in education wise, when it comes to women?

Farhat Shaheen: I have a BSC (Hons) in Psychology & I believe education is the most important thing! I love working with people. There is a big gap in education for women due to cultural issues. I believe in empowering others & making them proactive.

Gul Baloch: good

Farhat Shaheen: I'm extremely good at supporting and motivating others. I'm also an Information, Advice & Guidance worker and I work at Bolton Magistrates Court.

Ali Palh:  What are the indicators of real empowerment?

Gul Baloch: great question Ali

Farhat Shaheen: What do you believe are the real indicators of empowerment?

Ali Palh:  Farhat are you asking me? Or group?

Farhat Shaheen: I'm asking u & the group as that's a great topic for discussion.

Nasir Abid: Was there any reason that you have chosen that field?

 Farhat Shaheen: I chose this field since I love helping others.

Nasir Abid: Yes, but have you seen people helpless somewhere or just its your love only, that made you incline to.

Farhat Shaheen: I love helping others as it's in my nature & plus I have been through hard times myself!

Nasir Abid: Right

Gul Baloch: What should an Asian woman do to bring change the mindset in society?

Farhat Shaheen: Women should bring up their children in a well-educated manner. It's extremely difficult to change adult’s minds but you can shape children’s minds from a very young age!

Nasir Abid: One who goes thru troubles knows well about problems

Farhat Shaheen: Yes, Nasira absolutely!

Duaa Rehman: What do you think are the 3 most important values for a young girl to be brought up by in today's society?

Farhat Shaheen: Duaa, the 3 most important values for a young girl in today's society are:-

1. Respect & stand up for yourself & others

2. Never hurt anyone intentionally or unintentionally

3. You always have the right to say no!

Nasir Abid: Yes, in that manner we begin our struggle thru our generation.


Farhat Shaheen: I'm an empathic person & an emotionally intelligent person:)

Razia Sultana Junejo: As I know Faraht more than ten years, what I have seen that she is very professional, she is always ready in helping others and getting involved in the community projects.

Farhat Shaheen: Thank you Razia for your kind words. It means a lot to me.

Nasir Abid: I think self-determination, religion and speech freedom are indicators of empowerment.

Razia Sultana Junejo: Yes Nasira

Razia Sultana Junejo: I think having knowledge about how our emotional intelligence works, is really works.

Farhat Shaheen: Emotional intelligence is the key to life:)

Farhat Shaheen: I agree with you Nasira:)

Razia Sultana Junejo: Thanks

Nasir Abid: Razia the basic thing you find in Farhat’s personality is her real experiences in life according to he, that made her so.


Farhat Shaheen: Yes, Nasira you're absolutely right - it's my experiences that have shaped my personality:)

Nasira :  True

Nasir Abid: Farhat will you please share some of your works that bring change in the women you working with?

Farhat Shaheen: I set up my own project called the Apna Project which is a Counselling and Training service for Asian women. I set that service up 12 years ago, and that's where I had the privilege of meeting Razia.

Nasir Abid: Good

Nasir Abid: have you given counselling to those who approach you or you try to find the needy ones by yourself?

Farhat Shaheen: They approach me as it's well established in the community now. I set up the Apna Project as there was no specific service for Asian people in the local community at that time.

Nasir Abid: Good, that’s nice.

Razia Sultana Junejo: There are still not many sitting available for Asian.

Nasir Abid: And how do you define emotional intelligence?

Farhat Shaheen: Emotional intelligence is being aware of other people's emotions and why they behave in such a way.

Nasir Abid: Right, Yes that leads us to the real root cause. Isn’t?

Farhat Shaheen: It does because people behave in a certain way due to the way they're feeling!

Nasir Abid: Have you found difficulties in its earlier stage?

Farhat Shaheen: No because it was a much-needed service! Funding can be an issue in the beginning! It is still an issue due to funding Razia!

Razia Sultana Junejo: Yes

Nasir Abid: Oh

Farhat Shaheen: The government needs to put more funding into counselling!


 Nasira :  So what you do in this regard?

Farhat Shaheen: You can't do anything without money? Well I've counselled & helped people free of charge but not a lot of people are willing to do this.

Razia Sultana Junejo: There are lots of mental health issues in Asian women, due to suffering in silence. .

Nasir Abid: Right

Farhat Shaheen: People don't understand why I do that! There's lots of people suffering in silence as they don't know where to access help....

Nasir Abid: Your contribution towards society is hard one

Nasira :  Yes, that’s what you asked earlier.

Nasira :  How u able to get access of such people then.

Farhat Shaheen: Yes, Nasira it truly is but I'm willing to persevere with it! It's extremely important.... You have to let people know about your service & then family & friends will encourage you to go for counselling. You must let other people know about your services such as, GPs, health visitors, support workers, teachers, etc

Nasira :  I think women can move freely in your country than in ours, even then they are helpless and unwilling to get counselled?

Nasira :  That’s seem strange to me

Razia Sultana Junejo: It is stigma as well, because then family thinks you’re not coping. Especially if ladies are with in laws.

Farhat Shaheen: Yes, that's true but a lot of women are confined to the home or they don't go out without their husband or family members?

 Nasir Abid: Very strange

Farhat Shaheen: Yes, Razia it's the social stigma people can't cope with?

Razia Sultana Junejo: Yes

Nasir Abid: We are crying for our uneducated women in Pakistan but in your country, you face the same problem.

Farhat Shaheen: We still have women that are uneducated here as well!

Khadim Hussain:  Nasira Abid Sahiba, in spite of empowerment and freedom there still huge women representation deficit in every sphere of life.

Farhat Shaheen: People will treat a physical problem but they don't want to deal with a mental problem as they don't understand it!

 Nasir Abid: Right

Farhat Shaheen: I used to go and see this lady in her house, because her husband said to me that her wife doesn't have time to come to our office.

Haseen Masrat: Farhat, in your experience, due you think that Asian women face more mental health issues then or they have same kind of problems?

Razia Sultana Junejo: Yes here people have more issues. Because of the loneliness

Nasira :  Yes I’m asking this Khadim sb

Nasir Abid: Farhat dear Thank you. We always blame our country.

Khadim Hussain:  I meant even in UK and Europe


Farhat Shaheen: No worries Nasira

  Nasir Abid: Yes, agreed Khadim sahib.

  Farhat Shaheen: Mental health is a big issue all over the whole world!

 Nasir Abid: Yes

Farhat Shaheen: Yes, Razia loneliness is a big issue!

Nasir Abid: But mostly people focusing our country, though they have same problems despite all facilities.

Farhat Shaheen: Infect depression is increasing all the time & it's a huge problem!

Nasir Abid: Do you have any programs regarding their depression, I mean have you ever arranged some get together parties for them.

Farhat Shaheen: Suicide is also on the increase sadly. Yes, Nasira I always encourage women to get together

Razia Sultana Junejo: Self harm also

Farhat Shaheen: Yes Razia!

Nasir Abid: Good

Farhat Shaheen: We also run The Footsteps Programme which encourages people to become confident & more self-sufficient:)

Razia Sultana Junejo: I think lack of information around culture as well, these professionals don’t some tines have clue.

Nasir Abid: Good to hear

Razia Sultana Junejo: Can you explain that? What is it?


Farhat Shaheen: Yes, and a lack of understanding about the culture & religion! Plus, the language barrier also.

Nasir Abid: Have you appointed people of different languages too so they can convey messages to these women?

Farhat Shaheen: Yes Nasira the Apna Project had people who spoke different languages including Urdu, Punjabi, Kashmiri, Hindi and Sindhi. They also understand the culture & religions. The footsteps programme is a 12 step programme which teaches people how to achieve their goals, dreams & ambitions.

Gul Baloch: equal access to opportunities and resources is empowerment

Farhat Shaheen: Yes, Gul I agree with you

Gul Baloch: thanks, Farhat.

Razia Sultana Junejo: I accompanied one of my Asian client to a white psychiatrist and he made comments about the way he drank his tea to me in private. I said to him that it is normal to drink tea from a plate in our country.

Farhat Shaheen: Lol they don't understand our culture or religion! How is that relevant to his mental wellbeing?

Razia Sultana JunejoHe was saying that he is slow.

  Farhat Shaheen: They don't have a clue!

Farhat Shaheen: He wasn't empathic or emotionally intelligent?


Razia Sultana Junejo: Yes, he was judgmental from point of social etiquettes.

Farhat Shaheen: We must educate them about our culture/religion!

Farhat Shaheen: Being a psychiatrist - he should be non-judgemental!

Gul Baloch: he should be neutral, free of bias.

Farhat Shaheen: Yes, if you’re a professional you have to be

Nasira :  you told us you have two sons, do you ever wish to have a girl too?


Farhat Shaheen: I'm happy with my boys but if Allah (swt) wants to bless me with a girl - who am I to argue with that?

Gul Baloch: yes true.

Farhat Shaheen: It's all in the hands of the Almighty!

Razia Sultana Junejo: are you part of any other women group Faraht?

Farhat Shaheen: I'm also a parent governor as I believe in being actively involved in my children’s education!

Gul Baloch: that's great.

Nasira :  Good

Farhat Shaheen: Yes, I am a member of the Pikes Lane School parents group

Farhat Shaheen: Thank you ladies!

Nasira :  What is it?

Gul Baloch: Pleasure dear.

Nasir Abid: We heard of new an Asian kid get bullied in some school, Do you have knowledge about that?

Farhat Shaheen: A parent governor is about looking after the governance of the whole school!

Nasir Abid: and if so, have you taken some steps?

Farhat Shaheen: Yes, Nasira I'm aware of these issues & deal with these too!

Nasir Abid: Have you dealt with that case?

Farhat Shaheen: Being a parent governor you have to look after the welfare of the children, parents & staff members!

Farhat Shaheen: Yes, I have within schools....

Nasir Abid: So, what was the result of your interference?

Nasir Abid: Can you update us.

Farhat Shaheen: I wouldn't call it interference, I believe it is a moral duty to look after the welfare of our society. If I witness bullying outside, I'd challenge that also!

Razia Sultana Junejo: We say intervention

Farhat Shaheen: Yes, that's a good word Razia!

  Gul Baloch: good

Farhat Shaheen: I hope I've given u an insight into my work ladies:)

Nasir Abid: Yes

Razia Sultana Junejo: Thank you Farhat

  Nasir Abid: Thank very much dear

Farhat Shaheen: You're always welcome. It's my pleasure:)

  Gul Baloch: yes, impressive.

Farhat Shaheen: Awwh thank you Gul - much appreciated:)

Thank you Farhat for being with us and giving your time.


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