Sidrah Ahmad is a writer and researcher based in Toronto, Ontario. She co-founded the Rivers of Hope Toolkit for survivors of Islamophobic violence. Her writing for mainstream media and academic research has helped to bring the reality of gendered Islamophobic violence into public discourse in Canada.
Her research on this subject has now been published in the Journal of Gender-Based Violence.
For Sexual Assault Awareness Month (#SAAM), let’s raise awareness about Islamophobically-motivated sexual assault, and all forms of sexual violence Muslim women face.
Muslim women are most often the targets of Islamophobic violence in North America and Europe, with visibly Muslim women – women who wear hijab and/or niqab – being particularly vulnerable. Black Muslim women also face heightened vulnerability to Islamophobic violence, because of the combined effect of anti-Black racism and Islamophobia.
When we think about Islamophobic violence against Muslim women, we often picture a woman being yelled at to “go back to where you came from” or even physically attacked. What’s been missing from the conversation however is the fact that Islamophobic violence can take the form of sexual assault.
Over the past year, I conducted research interviews with 21 Muslim women survivors of Islamophobic violence in Toronto and its surrounding regions. Throughout these interviews, Muslim women of all ages told me about being verbally harassed, threatened, and physically attacked. Importantly, some of them also told me about incidents of Islamophobically-motivated sexual assault.