Study reveals women are targets of Islamophobic hate crimes more frequently than men
Islamophobic hate crimes are more likely to be committed against women than men, a study has claimed.
Female victims suffer attacks because they appear ‘more visibly Muslim’ thanks to traditional dress such as the niqab or abaya - and they are also perceived as ‘soft targets’, researchers believe.
The study by Teesside University academics found 54 per cent of Islamophobia victims were female, with many of the attacks said to ‘opportunistic’.
Four in every five assailants that could be identified by the researchers were male, with most of them between the ages of 10 and 30, reported Jonathan Brown of The Independent.
The researchers also claimed that Muslim women would rather tell them them than police about their experiences, with a ‘fear factor’ developing that is leaving some of them afraid to go outside.
The report comes two weeks after Muslim student Nahid Almanea, 31, was fatally stabbed 16 times as she walked along a secluded pathway to her English class at the University of Essex in Colchester.
Detectives have said one of the ‘main lines’ of their inquiry was that the Saudi Arabian student could have been singled out for being a Muslim as a result of her headscarf and long robe.
A 52-year-old man who was initially arrested has been released without charge. But last week police arrested a 19-year-old man in connection with the attack. No-one has yet been charged.
Study author Dr Matthew Feldman said: ‘Hate crime tends to be a male-on-male phenomenon. But here we are seeing exactly the opposite: white men under 30 attacking women wearing traditional Muslim dress.’
He added that while other hate crimes have been on the decrease in recent years, those against Muslims were rising. Researchers analysed anti-Muslim incidents recorded by the Faith Matters group's Tell Mama project.
Attacks on Muslims went up nearly fourfold after Drummer Lee Rigby's murder in May 2013 in south-east London, including 23 assaults and 13 attacks involving extreme violence.
Fiyaz Mughal, director of Tell Mama, claimed Islamophobic attacks are widely under-reported, with just 24 of the 43 police force areas in England and Wales label crime as religiously aggravated.
He told The Independent: ‘We know we are only getting a snapshot of what's happening, but fear and apprehension are clearly evident among Muslim women.’