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Muslim Women and Islamophobia

  • Fauzia MahrEmail author
  • Tania Nadeem
Chapter

Abstract

49.6% of the world’s population is women, and this ratio is roughly similar in Muslim majority countries except Qatar, UAE, Bahrain, and Oman where women constitute about 40% of the population. Islamophobia and stereotyping of Muslim women date back to the time of the crusades (http://bridge.georgetown.edu/islamophobia-the-right-word-for-a-real-problem/, Mary O’Hara Anti-Muslim groups have tripled in the U.S., and Islamophobia doesn’t stop at the border. https://www.splcenter.org/ Feb 2017. Accessed 25 Nov 17), but the past few decades have seen an exponential increase in Islamophobic rhetoric which negatively stereotypes Muslim women. The negative stereotyping of Muslim women in popular media and in western societies has added fuel to an already volatile situation (Bridge Initiative Team. New study highlights the damaging effects of Islamophobia on Muslim Women. http://bridge.georgetown.edu/new-study-highlights-the-damaging-effects-of-islamophobia-on-muslim-women, Council on American-Islamic Relations. Poll: 1-in-4 Americans holds anti-Muslim views: negative images of Muslims far more prevalent than positive ones. 2016. Council on American-Islamic Relations News Release Posted on April 24, 2015 at 3:19 am. Accessed 14 Dec17). The caricatures constructed regarding Muslim women depict them as a homogenous group supporting regressive beliefs, values, and practices incompatible with modern life, completely disregarding the history and diversity of Muslim women. Hate crimes against Muslims are disproportionately higher for Muslim women. According to a study in the Netherlands, 90% of the Islamophobia victims were women (Martijn Enar – forgotten women: the impact of islamophobia on Muslim women in Europe. https://religionresearch.org/closer/2016/05/26/enar-forgotten-women-the-impact-of-islamophobia-on-muslim-women-in-europe. May 26, 2016. Accessed 14 Dec 17). In the current climate, overt adherence to Islam confers an elevated risk for experiencing hate crimes and Islamophobia. Up to 69% of Muslim women wearing a hijab (head covering) have experienced discrimination at least once (Rippy AE, Newman E, unpublished raw data, 2008, American Civil Liberties Union Foundation’s Women’s Rights Project. “Discrimination Against Muslim Women.” November 2008. http://www.aclu.org/files/pdfs/womensrights/discriminationagainstmuslimwomen11.08.pdf. Accessed 14 Dec 2017). Additionally they are frequently victims of physical and verbal assaults. Islamophobic incidents create an insurmountable barrier for Muslim women to integrate into western societies. The social isolation promotes negative stereotypes of Muslim women and broadens the chasm between them and the society. There is a need in clinical settings in particular to understand, evaluate, and treat Muslim women based on their unique individual characteristics and preferences. This will dispel myths, prevent stigmatization, and avoid delivery of suboptimal care. In the following chapter, we will outline the basic historic roles and rights of Muslim women who symbolize the progressive approach of Islam and provide recommendations for healthcare providers.

Keywords

Islam Muslim women Islamophobia Negative Muslim stereotypes Discrimination Faith-based treatment 

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, Child & Adolescent Psychiatry Fellowship Training, Eating Disorders Program & Practice SitePenn State Health Milton S Hershey Medical CenterHersheyUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychiatryAga Khan UniversityKarachiPakistan

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