Safety of Muslim women discussed with Labour Party’s Shadow Home Secretary

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14th June 2024


Safety of Muslim women discussed with Labour Party’s Shadow Home Secretary

Muslim Women’s Network UK (MWNUK) helped to facilitate a meeting in Birmingham’s Yardley constituency with a group of Muslim women to discuss Muslim women’s safety with Jess Phillips MP and the Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper MP. As a charity, one of our objectives is to provide Muslim women with opportunities to contribute to decision-making processes that will allow their needs to be better met.

Muslim women expressed their deep concerns about the rise in hate crimes, particularly anti-Muslim prejudice, and the government's inaction to address it or engage with Muslim women despite their much higher vulnerability to Islamophobia, concerns which have been raised in parliament by MWNUK CEO Baroness Gohir OBE. We therefore appreciate that Yvette Cooper has taken the time to meet with Muslim women to listen to their views. We also welcomed her commitment to challenge discrimination and prejudice and to develop a new hate crime strategy through a consultative process, ensuring everyone has the opportunity to help shape it.

MWNUK CEO, Baroness Shaista Gohir OBE, said: "Police hate crime data, feedback from our members, and yesterday’s discussions reveal that Muslim women are not reporting hate crimes to the police or through the few third-party Islamophobia reporting helplines due to their lack of community reach. Consequently, the true scale of anti-Muslim hate crime is not being captured, leading to inadequate policy responses to address the issue. More mechanisms are needed to report through local trusted reporting hubs that can be fed into regional and national databases to ensure incidents are recorded to reveal patterns and hotspots as well as providing consistency in data collection.”

We also acknowledge Metropolitan Police Chief Sir Mark Rowley's comments on the gaps in hate crime law. We fully support his recommendation to close the current loophole that allows individuals to incite racial and religious hatred without consequence because they avoid being threatening or abusive. As we have seen, the words of public figures, such as politicians and those with large social media followings, can have real-life consequences, leading others to subject minorities to verbal and physical abuse. It is often Muslim women who bear the brunt of this.

During the meeting, violence against women and girls was also discussed, highlighting the higher rates of domestic homicides among minority ethnic women. The Shadow Home Secretary was urged to hold an inquiry to uncover the contributing factors, with the aim of making recommendations for government departments, frontline services, and the charity sector. We hope other political parties will also come forward to speak directly with MWNUK and Muslim women to better understand the issues, and ultimately commit to robustly tackling anti-Muslim prejudice, hate crime and domestic abuse.

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