Public harassment of Muslim women: what can be done?


Our Community, Our Rights is a project that engages women from migrant and refugee backgrounds in human rights advocacy training, then supports them to develop and manage their own advocacy projects. This year we have been working with Muslim women from the Horn of Africa.

The women who participated are deeply concerned that many Muslim women feel unsafe in public places. In response to this, a group of participants have decided that they would like to engage policy makers and service providers in a conversation about the experiences and concerns of community women, and also share their ideas about how we can tackle this problem. Read this blog by Faduma, Fowzia, Tawaduda and Hawo and please register for the forum to hear more.

Many Muslim women feel unsafe in public places, when using public transport and when driving in their cars. Muslim women are often more easily identifiable than Muslim men, due to the clothing we chose to wear. This can make us a target for those who hold negative attitudes towards Islam and multiculturalism.

These experiences and feeling unsafe has a negative impact on the health and wellbeing of women in our community. We understand this very well, because we are a group of Muslim women and many of us have experienced harassment ourselves, as have many of our friends and loved ones. We can’t speak for all Muslim women, but for the women in our project group and for many women we know, this fear and anxiety affects us, every day.

Women might not go out as much, and when they do, they feel fear, like having butterflies in their stomach. We are even more scared when we are with our children, because we don’t want to put them in danger or expose them to bad language and racism. We also worry about our daughters, when they go out wearing their hijab.

It can take strength to wear the hijab in this environment. It’s not easy being different. We admire the strength of our daughters and the women in our community.

We would like to share our experiences with you, tell you about our Safe Spaces for Muslim Women initiative and start a conversation about how we can all work together to send a strong message that the harassment of Muslim women is unacceptable.

Please join us at our forum about the safety of Muslim women in our community.

When: 11:00AM -1:00PM, Tuesday 26 July 2016

Where: Maidstone Community Centre, 21 Yardley Street, Maidstone

This event will include:

  • Presentations about our experiences and the experiences of other women we know
  • A guest presenter from the Australian Muslim Women’s Centre for Human Rights
  • The launch of the ‘Safe-Spaces for Muslim Women’ resource kit

The resource kit and event are an initiative of community women who have participated in Women’s Health West’s Our Community, Our Rights project.

Please note that registration is essential. Please register by Tuesday 12 July, by calling Susan at Women’s Health West on 9689 9588 or by sending her an email.