Activist Alia Salem had just finished watching the Oscar-winning film Spotlight, detailing sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, when she received a text message from a Muslim mother asking for help. Her daughter was in an inappropriate relationship with a Muslim clergy member from whom she had sought counseling. The clergyman had used his authority over the young woman to coerce her into a sexual relationship and the mother had no idea where to turn.
Salem said the young woman desperately needed an advocate to navigate the criminal act — in 17 states it is a felony for clergy members to have sex with anyone they are counseling — but couldn't find any organization within the U.S. Muslim community equipped to handle such issues.
"I considered it a moment of divine intervention," Salem said.