Australian Muslim women who ventured out on their own were almost three times more likely to face harassment of an islamophobic nature.
This was one of the key findings in a first-of-its-kind research report on Islamophobia in Australia, released today at NSW Parliament as a joint study conducted by the Centre for Islamic Studies and Civilisation, Charles Sturt University (CSU) and the Islamophobia Register of Australia.
The report was compiled in partnership with Islamic Sciences & Research Academy of Australia (ISRA), the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalization, Deakin University, the University of Western Australia, Diversity Council of Australia and Just Media Advocacy and was critically analysed by field-expert academics ranging from disciplines of sociology and theology to political sciences and criminology.
"The Report offers a window into the types of religiously motivated Islamophobic incidents taking place out in suburban Australia and its release is especially timely as there is a continuing debate over the existence and the scale of Islamophobia in Australia" said Mariam Veiszadeh, Lawyer and President of the Islamophobia Register Australia.
The principle researcher and editor of the report Dr Derya Iner, a Senior Lecturer at Charles Sturt University, said, "The report documents and analyses the present manifestations of Islamophobia in Australia both at an institutional and individual level and provides authentic and vigorous data by quoting from the victims, their proxies and witnesses".
Five Key Findings
- Women, especially those with Islamic head covering (79.6% of the female victims), have been the main targets of Islamophobia and more than half of the female victims had their children with them at the time of the reported incident.
- 98% of perpetrators were identified as ethnically Anglo-Celtic, as indicated by the reporter and the typical perpetrator tended to be male.
- Most reported physical assaults (offline incidents) occurred in NSW (60%) and VIC (26.7%).
- 48% of offline attacks occurred in crowded spaces that were frequented daily - shopping centres, train stations and mosque surroundings were the most common.
- Non-Muslims constituted about 25% of the witness reporters and nobody intervened in 75% of the reported incidents.
Extracts of Case Studies
- "...This isn't the only incident I had like this...My daughter has commented on how worried she is for me and asked me not to walk anywhere..." (Case 130)
- "...I was walking with my head down and a group of young males yelled out 'ISIS B****' 'go back to where you came from' and snickered and said 'shh or she'll behead you.' And followed me down the street. None of the train staff helped me out or stopped them." (Case 26)
- "...She [one of the perpetrators] kept asking if I could hear her, as I made out that I couldn't, and kept walking/picked up my pace. Her voice got louder so I'm not sure if they started to follow me on foot, but once I entered the medical centre on Pitt Street, I didn't hear or see anything else from them. I am 19 weeks pregnant and have never felt so afraid/vulnerable in my life…I thought they were going to physically try harming my daughter and I. There were lots of passers-by who didn't come to my aid..." (Case 162)
- "Today I witnessed two males around late 40s or so verbally abusing a group of around six ladies wearing headscarves, with their children... one of the men was yelling at them 'it's your own f***ing fault, you're not wanted here' ... I asked the women if they were OK, a couple of them nodded at me and smiled shyly." (Case 64)
About the Report
The report captures and critically analyses 243 verified incidents reported to the Islamophobia Register Australia between September 2014 and December 2015.
The report findings signify the circumstances under which anti-Muslim hate incidents exist, operate and affect Australian Muslims and illustrate specific characteristics of Islamophobia.
A verification process was undertaken by a team of researchers in which reported incident details were verified and additional information was sought directly from the reporters who were classified according to whether they were the victims, witnesses or proxy reporters.
The collated data was then further categorised for analysis in which they were classified and assessed according to the following characteristics – online or offline incident types and severity levels, locational features of the incidents, social context, vulnerability of victims, content of abuse and the impact of incidents on victims.