Australia No.1

I’ve decided to start my first entry about Australian women, my country of origin, on Muslim women within Australia. This is a pertinent issue that must be addressed, lest we fall into the trap of ignorance. I was inspired to do this piece by the recent ABC television series, You Can’t Ask That, where they asked a variety of Australian Muslim’s questions about their faith and experiences. I highly recommend people sit down and watch the program.

First, I must make this clear:

Islam is practised differently in all parts of the world.

I am not a denier of the oppression of women, but I will not blindly and ignorantly accept that a religion is responsible for the misogyny that men and patriarchal practices purport. In Saudi Arabia or Brunei, where women are vehemently oppressed, this is not something borne from a religion. It is used under the guise of a religion to further man’s duplicitous attitudes. As many religions and practices are performed and engaged differently all around the world, so too is Islam.

Now that is out of the way, let me begin.

There are currently 133’132 Muslim women living in Australia. The girl in my picture is neither distinctly pale or dark of skin, be of Asian or Middle-Eastern descent. She is, however, human.

In Australia, many opportunities present themselves to her regarding her career path, social services, and the potential for leadership both in the community and at a federal political level.

She has the opportunity to be a mother, wife or aunt if she so chooses.

She is just like anyone else. She has multiple identities and being a female, muslim, Australian is just three of them. They are all compatible.

Though, if she happens to be a practising muslim, who happens to be of darker skin than her friends who aren’t, or so happens to speak a language other than english, she will be persecuted by the select few. Those who resign to ignorance.

She could be physically and verbally abused, as reported by the University of New South Wales, all because of the faith she elects to practice.

Indeed, these women can face threats similar to: ‘I am going to rip that scarf of your head and smash your bag over the top of head, smash it in’. This was one such comment a muslim women received and was published in the paper When Cultures Collide: Planning for the Public Spatial Needs of Muslim Women in Sydney.

She should not have to face this, nor does anyone.

I hesitate to comment any further on the experience of Australian muslim women lest I either diminish their plight or portray them as damned. For I am not a muslim woman and I do not wish to see an injustice in fact and anecdote occur.

I do know that these women, however, should not have to feel persecuted nor uncomfortable. Indeed, the rise of the #ridewithyou after the events of Martin Place gave me hope that Australians also feel that they should be safe and part of our community as well.

I sincerely hope we can do more to help these women because they are valuable and instrumental in the building and development of Australia. We are all given this task.

I encourage all to read this wonderful article, written by a brilliant woman for a much more articulate writing than mine.


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