Enhancing cooperation to tackle hatred targeting Muslim women in Italy

Friday 18 November 2022

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How can we facilitate the recording as well as the registration of hate speech or hate crime cases and support victims, with a special focus on Muslim women in Italy? Which factors dissuade women from reporting xenophobic and racist attacks against them?

After the realisation of a careful literature review, TRUST project partners relied on frontline practitioners and representatives of the Muslim community to answer these questions.

From the beginning of May until the end of September 2022, 40 online interviews were conducted by CESIE and A BUON DIRITTO ONLUS with the aim of assessing the current level of cooperation between CSOs, Muslim organisations and public authorities when it comes to deal with online and offline hatred.

Besides this, during the same period project partners interviewed 20 Muslim women to explore their thoughts, feelings, and beliefs about the perception of threats and practices of discrimination in their daily lives and the assistance offered by Italian institutions and associations.

At a glance, what emerged from the analysis of the interviews is a general lack of trust in the criminal justice system as in the effective prosecution of the cases reported to the local authorities. Victims are oftentimes discouraged by rumours circulating within their own community and resigned to the idea of maintaining a “low profile” within the Italian society as a strategy to cope with the racist episodes and the cultural barriers faced on a daily basis.

In this regard, negative experiences, even if a few, have a multiplier effect and spread out quickly amongst the Muslim community, generating a detrimental impact on the victim-law enforcement authority relationship.  Furthermore, nearly all women and girls interviewed by the TRUST partners agreed that Muslim women are at higher risk of being victims of racism and xenophobia due to their appearance and their gender.

Most of them are also unaware of the existing support services to rely on in case of emergency, such as help-desk services, hotlines and public support centres they can get in contact with in order to report hate crimes or hate speech cases targeting a member of their community or even themselves. Within this framework, awareness-raising campaigns and outreach activities to sensitise, orient and inform Muslim communities in Italy and the most exposed target groups, as women and girls, have been highly recommended by practitioners and representatives of CSOs.    

Additionally, the vast majority of respondents expressed serious concern about the rise of Islamophobia in Italy and the spread of toxic narratives targeting the Muslim community. It is also worth to be mentioned that intersectional hate speech represents an emerging trends and Muslim women, especially those wearing a hijab in public spaces, have often been victims of racist attacks, including slurs or xenophobic expressions and, to a lesser extent, of physical violence (i.e. attempting to strip off their hijab).

On the 28th and 29th of June, CESIE have also conducted 2 focus group in Rome and Milan with the members of LEAs, CSOs and the Muslim community.

A third focus was held online on the 14th of September 2022 to gather further information and receive feedback from relevant stakeholders and frontline practitioners living and working in different Italian cities.

During the above-mentioned meetings special attention was given to the following aspects:

  • The current level of cooperation and needs for improved collaboration among local stakeholders.
  • The specific challenges faced by Muslim women and the need for building fruitful and reliable relationships between them and local authorities.
  • The existing gaps or flaws in supporting hate speech and hate crimes victims.

An in-depth analysis of the answers provided during the focus group and interview sessions will be conducted until December 2022. To do so, representatives of CSOs, Muslim community leaders and LEASs will be invited to participate in four different rounds of workshops to be held in Milan with the aim of identifying concrete solutions to bridge the gaps and overcome barriers that hinder the reporting and recording of hate speech and hate crimes against Muslim women.

As the saying goes “Rome wasn’t built in a day” and actually, there is still much work to be done but we are enthusiastic about the results achieved so far. Next stop Milan. We will keep you posted!

Please follow us on Linkedin or visit our webpage for important updates. For more information about the TRUST project, you can also click here or contact Ruta Grigaliunaite by sending an email to ruta.grigaliunaite@cesie.org.

About the project

TRUST – Tackling Under-Reporting and Under-Recording of Hate Speech and Hate Crimes Against Muslim Women is a project cofunded by by Erasmus+ programme Directorate-General for Justice and Consumers, CERV-2021-EQUAL.

Partner

For further information

Read more about TRUST, visit the project website and follow us on LinkedIn.

Contact Ruta Grigaliunaite: ruta.grigaliunaite@cesie.org.

CESIE