Islamophobic violence as a form of gender-based violence: a qualitative study with Muslim women in Canada

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Sidrah Maysoon AhmadUniversity of Toronto Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, Toronto, Canada

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This paper represents the first empirical qualitative research study on Islamophobic violence against Muslim women in the Canadian context, and presents a novel characterisation of Islamophobic violence against Muslim women as a form of gender-based violence. Twenty-one Muslim women in Toronto and its surrounding areas were interviewed regarding their encounters with Islamophobic violence: they disclosed over 30 incidents, only three of which were reported to police. The spectrum of Islamophobic violence disclosed by participants includes attempted femicide, physical assault, sexual assault and verbal assault. Moreover, two participants disclosed situations of intimate partner violence (IPV) that were entangled with Islamophobic abuse, representing a hitherto uncharacterised intersection of Islamophobia and IPV in the Canadian context. All incidents of physical and sexual violence disclosed by participants were said to have been perpetrated by white men. Many participants believed that they were targeted for Islamophobic violence because of the impact of gendered Islamophobic discourses that construct Muslim women as being passive, weak and oppressed – and therefore as ‘acceptable targets’ for violence. I offer the novel term ‘Islamophobic gender-based violence’ in order accurately name the reality of violence that Muslim women face in the nexus of misogyny and Islamophobia.

Sidrah Maysoon AhmadUniversity of Toronto Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, Toronto, Canada

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