Below I’ll be examining the Salims from the TV Show 16kidsandcounting Shown on Channel 4 March 2013 9pm, all quotes mentioned below are as mentioned in the series on Channel 4 should you wish to watch this yourself. All non specific opinions given are my own.
Meet the Salims: “A supersized family needs a lot of space. But for the Salim’s money is so tight they have to squeeze into a 4 bed terrace.”
Channel 4 have done it again: Contrasting families in order to gain viewing figures. Dropping into narration that, “Mohammed was 32, and Noreen 16 when their wedding was arranged by her grandfather in Pakistan,” twenty-three years ago.
The family have 11 children: Muhammad Aves, Sarah Zenib Bibi, Maryam Hajra Bibi, Muhammad Bilal, Muhammad Haider Ali, Halimn Sadia Bibi, Umayah Habiba Hadia Bibi, Saadiqah Fatima Bibi, Muhammad Ibrahim Amter, Muhammad Imam Ismail and, Rukyya
They don’t have room for a big table, so tv dinners are the norm. They are shown eating chicken, pizzas and samosas; watching their parent’s wedding video.
Highlighting the fact that Mohammed expects to spend around £400-500 on the Festival of Eid, for family and neighbours, despite being unemployed for 7 years and receiving £680 a week in benefits. Mohammed says an extra two or three mouth won’t make any difference, as they are so busy anyway. But this is around what the Radfords have spent on their christening for 11 children – and they are not on benefits!
It is mentioned that this is the most important event in their calendar year. It’s the main Islamic celebration; one child describes it as, “its loud, it’s crazy and it’s a big celebration”. As he’s been unemployed for the last 7 years, he has to put a bit aside from his benefits to make sure all the children are happy. That is a much-needed chance to unwind from the pressures of daily life.
The Eid celebration they are celebrating in their own home is very important, so they want them to look their best. That whilst his wife Noreen, and children are out shopping for the festival – £100 on clothes, and a budget of £10 each on shoes, he worries over the bills – with a gas bill of 590.48. He says the cost is the downside of having a large family. “I want to make sure my family are happy – get something good, something new”.
They have no space and their house is untidy. The Salims are worried that their house will not be ready for the party. They buy some cheap furniture from Ikea and the kids are jumping all over the stuff, and standing on trolleys. But he tells them all to get into the lift. He delegates the work to their kids – saying he will give them a bag each. They throw lots in a skip.
“I don’t think we’re a tidy family at all. Mum gets depressed about the mess. Older kids try their best but the younger ones mess it up again,” one of the older children said.
Mohammed says, “I want more children. It’s nothing to do with more benefits or getting more money out of the government. I want them because I love children and I want their company. People do think I’m a baddie, and a sponger, a scrounger, whatever. Let them think what they want.”
But they’ve become a target for abuse. People say a lot of things, and give the children grief about their family. There’s graffiti on the wall.
Mohammed says, “They (the kids) do get upset now and again, but they are very resilient, because I’ve brained washed them into believing that they are only jealous. You’re happy, you’ve got a big family, you all love each other, and it is all born down to jealousy”.
We see that even the Radfords get people counting the children, but are respected because they own their own bakery, so the children do not receive this abuse. Unfortunately, racism is probably a large cause of this too.
Mohammed says the house is crowded but they are used to it and happy. He says I love children – they are really magic. He doesn’t want big cars, tvs, and other luxuries, he just wants more kids. He says they have so much love to give, and great company. He was an only child and he doesn’t want them to be lonely.
He does say, “Many times I think I just want to walk away and have a free easy life”. His wife doesn’t seem to want more, she says he can’t look after the ones he has.
I think that we need to consider that when his first 9 children were born he had a teaching job. He’s been looking for jobs, and applying for the last 7 years, and they own their own home. Noreen tells him to go get a job.
“You have no job and I am suffering with you. My children are suffering with you. He has no job and it’s very shameful. I want my children to go to private school. But I can’t manage it.”
Noreen wants the kids to have a room each and a private education.
“You have a PhD and seven degrees but no job. If you had a nice job, we would have a 10 bedroom home. My prayer is to give each son and daughter a room.”
Mohammed says, “God’s blessing is our children.” He says he hopes they have the space for a new baby and that’s what he prays for.
Interestingly the Salim’s have already appeared in a documentary called “13 children and wanting more” back in May 2008. This was when their 11th child was born: “We filmed was the birth of the Salim family’s 11th child, a daughter named Rukyya. The Salims were happy for me to be in the delivery suite, but because Noreen was Muslim I had to reassure her that I wasn’t going to film the graphic details of her birth. I just needed to be there for their important family moment.” The show focused more on their religious reasons for having a large family. Mohammed is quoted as saying that he did not wish to interfere with God’s doing by using contraception. I feel it is worth noting that at this point, although unemployed, this is a man who had worked hard, bought his own home and fell on hard times. They have since not had any further children.
There was also a Channel Five documentary called the The Seven Deadly Sins – and it’s rumoured that Mohammed appear on the Sloth episode.
They were also filmed whilst having a 3 day holiday to Paris in August. And will be in next weeks episode with the Sullivan family.