How Street Harassment and Islamophobia Create an Unsafe Environment For Muslim Women

It doesn’t really feel secure being a Muslim lady anymore.

This could be the primary time you’ve seen these phrases written on a display screen, or perhaps it is a well-established assertion you’ve come to simply accept as reality. Either approach, it’s turning into extra and extra inconceivable to disclaim how scary it’s in the meanwhile to determine as each a girl and a Muslim.  We are straightforward targets on this nation — politically and in our on a regular basis lives — particularly with such a stark variety of Islamophobic hate crimes that appear to be rising by the day. 

Racism and Islamophobia can usually really feel too distant of a subject to grapple with, notably if, like me, you spent your youth in a multicultural metropolis, really believing that Allah made us all equal. It’s sheer naivety, in fact, however whilst a grown grownup it’s troublesome to doc what precisely occurred to public discourse after 9/11 and how Muslims turned public enemy primary. There is a vulnerability that comes with being a girl in such a patriarchal society, and that is solely elevated by belonging to a religion that appears to be hated and attacked by each “friends” and politicians alike. Islamophobia is talked about within the information, Islamophobia is talked about in household discussions, however Islamophobia nonetheless doesn’t really feel like one thing that exists in your very doorstep, or on the streets of the locations you as soon as referred to as residence. 

There is a vulnerability that comes with being a girl in such a patriarchal society, and that is solely elevated by belonging to a religion that appears to be hated and attacked by each “friends” and politicians alike.

This is why, the primary time somebody verbally assaults you on the road for being Muslim, you are feeling extra shock than another emotion. You end up desirous to ask the person to repeat what he simply mentioned, regardless that you realize it was one thing alongside the traces of “go home” and calling you a terrorist. You wish to ask that lorry driver what precisely it was about your hijab that gave him permission to joke about what’s beneath and search clarification about how true his risk was about pulling it off. Or maybe your first expertise of Islamophobic harassment wasn’t so clear; maybe it was only a humorous look and a frantic scuffle to different aspect of the street. But it nonetheless left you feeling sick to your abdomen with anxiousness, questioning when precisely your religion coincided with making you a strolling goal for abuse. 

Islamophobia is legally thought-about a hate crime, and road harassment has now been deemed a real type of gender-based violence, however the intersections between the 2 are virtually by no means a part of our discussions on finish each points. People are fast to show a blind eye on how racial and non secular oppression also can work together with sexism, and how typically these a number of types of oppression make the abuse you might be subjected to considerably extra insidious and harmful. As a girl residing in London, I learnt to simply accept that verbal abuse was a threat I ran each time I left the home; as if to say that catcalling, wolf whistling, and being adopted have been by some means a ceremony of passage society determined I needed to settle for. As a Muslim lady, nevertheless, my fears are solely amplified, and virtually each time I depart the home, I discover myself afraid of each verbal and bodily violence. From acid assaults to violently ripping off somebody’s hijabs, the best way Muslim girls are focused is completely different, and should subsequently be tackled from a way more intersectional perspective. Anti-racism, anti-Islamophobia, and feminism ought to go hand in hand, however this isn’t at all times the case, leaving Muslim girls not sure of who precisely to show to of their instances of want. 

Islamophobia is legally thought-about a hate crime, and road harassment has now been deemed a real type of gender-based violence, however the intersections between the 2 are virtually by no means a part of our discussions on finish each points.  

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Personal security is essentially the most urgent drawback created by road harassment, however extra not too long ago I’ve realised that a lot darker and extra complicated points come into play if you end up attacked on the premise of your faith. Islamophobia has made me query what it means to be Muslim, or slightly what it means to look Muslim. Your religion shouldn’t be decided by your bodily look, however I’ve turn out to be painfully conscious that there are eventualities wherein I match nearer to society’s inflexible definition of Islam that I can’t change. Public rhetoric on Islam is poisonous, however it’s this identical rhetoric that’s absorbed by the widespread people and used to create psychological photographs on what a Muslim should look and act like. Wearing a hijab is a private selection made between a girl and Allah, and for most girls, it isn’t a political assertion, or one thing worn to draw consideration, not to mention harassment and verbal abuse. Wearing a hijab shouldn’t be what makes somebody Muslim, however it’s what makes them an straightforward goal and apparent selection for guiding one’s hate. As Muslim girls, the stereotypes surrounding us are of subservience and silence, making us the right victims who merely don’t know battle again. It amazes me how I really feel extra unsafe strolling residence from the mosque with my mom than I do coming residence late at night time. I’m not any roughly Muslim in both of these eventualities, however as my visibility as a Muslim will increase, so do my fears surrounding my security. 

Once you’re in a position to see the closely racial and anti-Muslim dialogues round you, it inconceivable to disregard and see issues as innocently as you used to. It is equally as inconceivable to disregard the male gaze in our society, when all of our actions appear to be dictated and critiqued by the dominant male forces round us. I usually discover myself responsible of caring an excessive amount of about how males may understand me, as I do know that the over-sexualisation of the feminine physique virtually at all times ends in dire penalties for us as girls. The male gaze is unavoidable, and the sheer proven fact that 80% of schoolgirls have been harassed on the streets offers a real perception into how pervasive and intrusive it truly is. The concept that Muslim girls — and particularly hijab-wearing girls — are by some means exempt from undesirable sexual consideration is a lie that must be challenged as a result of it’s clearly unfaithful. Perhaps the kind of consideration adjustments, maybe the tactic of road harassment differs, however it’s harassment, however. Exoticism, fetishization and outright racial abuse – name it what you’ll, however it’s taking place, and it must cease. 

There is a voice that must be heard from the Muslim ummah surrounding gender-based violence and its widespread place on our streets.  The statistics on sexism are ample, and fortunately the knowledge on Islamophobia additionally appears to be rising, however I’m but to come across a bit of knowledge that encapsulates the 2.  Our voices and our tales should be heard, as it’s only by talking out that we are going to free ourselves from the oppression that entraps us. As Muslims, we ought to be empowered by our religion, not degraded, and it’s as much as us to take again management and outline ourselves as we see match. 

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