Many underestimate how difficult it can be as a Muslim woman of colour today.
With past events such as mass terror attacks like 9/11, discrimination against Muslims has increased continually. As a result, targeted hate crimes and Islamophobic attitudes have become more widespread. In addition, the internet was, and still is, one of the main contributions towards rapidly creating and spreading stereotypes that created fear amongst many.
As a Muslim woman of colour, there are many fears that I, and others like me, face when we step outside. One fear that all women face, regardless of race and background, is going out late at night. As shown by the tragic fate of Sarah Everard, many women have said that they are fearful of going out in case they face the same fate. As a Muslim woman, I feel even more unsafe and scared for myself and others who are like me.
Another fear that I have concerns my hijab. I currently wear the hijab and have been wearing it for almost two decades. Whilst my hijab allows me to stay close with my faith, I have several worries when I wear it, and modest clothing in general. For instance, when I go out, I am terrified that someone will rip my scarf off my head. After all, it has happened numerous times with my friends and fellow classmates who also wear the hijab. My mother, who also wears the hijab and has done for over three decades, was often told by her previous colleagues that she should “take that tablecloth off her head” as it looked “abnormal” and “ugly.”
Furthermore, my mother also primarily wears the burqa (a full-length dress which covers from neck to toe) whenever she goes out. Due to the attitudes that Muslim women face when it comes to their choice of wearing modest clothing, we may be met with unpleasant or dirty looks, slurs, or we may even get physically attacked. As a result, I get worried when my mother leaves the house alone. I, myself, also struggle to wear religious or even modest clothing as I’m worried about what kind of hate I may receive. When I was in school, I remember asking my mum if I could start wearing maxi skirts, but she was scared that I would either get bullied for wearing a skirt or someone would pull my skirt down. After all, this is what she and many other women like her had endured when they were in school.
The fact that Muslim women still endure so many struggles in the current climate when there should be more progressive attitudes and acceptance is astonishing. Women of all backgrounds and religions should be able to go about their lives without feeling any sort of fear. JAN Trust strives towards empowering marginalised women and allowing them to enter society as successful, independent individuals.