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'I've been spat at.' The terrifying reality for Muslim women in Australia

SYDNEY - ”I applied for a job with two exact same resumés, but changed one with the name Mohamed to an Anglo-Saxon name ... I got a callback and interview with the Anglo-Saxon name ..." These are the words of a consultation participant interviewed for the Sharing the Stories of Australian Muslims Report 2021 by the Australian Human Rights Commission. These sentiments along with the countless others documented echo the incidents that have been reported to us at the Islamophobia Register Australia since I founded the organisation in 2014. I remember logging into my emails on a daily basis and seeing a barrage of reports come through. In the case of physical incidents - the vast majority of the victims were women.

Women just like me - who once upon a time, wore a headscarf and were visibly Muslim. Women who would be targeted even if they were in the presence of their children. In fact, the most heartbreaking experiences I’d hear about would be from mothers who were particularly concerned about their children witnessing the incidents and not knowing how to process it.

Imagine growing up in the climate of the ‘war on terror’, seeing your community plastered negatively all over the news on a regular basis, your mother verbally abused and told to ‘go back to where she came from’ and your father racially profiled because of the length of his facial hair.

I’d read incidents of them being spat on while they walked through Central train station in Sydney or verbally harassed whilst holidaying at The Entrance in the Central Coast or abused whilst waiting in line at their local Coles in Northern Queensland. While women who were physically assaulted (and there’s many of these unfortunately) saw the rationale in reporting the attacks to authorities, women who were verbally abused, targeted, spat on, mistreated and encountered discriminatory practices were most likely to ignore the regular micro-aggressions as they were so insidious and so much more common.