cularly targeted at British Muslim women. The Prime Minister claimed that some 190,000 British Muslim women, or 22%, speak little or no English, and suggested that a minority of men were promoting “backward attitudes” and exerting “damaging control” over their female relatives.But while Cameron’s commitment to funding for English language classes was welcomed in many quarters (particularly in light of previous ￡45m cuts to the Esol budget), he also drew unnecessary and unclear links between the English language skills of Muslim women and extremism, as well as appearing to threaten that migrants who failed to reach a particular standard of English may not be allowed to remain in the UK. The conflation of these very different issues seemed to suggest that the rights and empowerment of Muslim women are only of particular concern when
they are instrumental in protecting the rest of Britain from the threat of extremism, not to mention simultaneously casting Muslim women as suppressed victims and dangerous outsiders. Of course, measures to tackle oppression and violence against women should be applauded – and Cameron did make a point of stating that these are not issues confined to Muslim communities – but this was undermined by his singling out of Muslim women in particular, as many pointed out. On Twitter, Baroness Sayeeda Warsi – former minister of state for faith and communities – said: “Women should have the opportunity to learn English full stop. Why link it to radicalisation/ extremism?” She added: “And why should it just be Muslim women who have the opportunity to learn English? Why not anyone who lives in the UK and can’t speak English”? She also highlighted the problem of a blanket suggestion that mothers who don’t speak English well might raise children who are integrate less
or who are less likely to contribute positively to society, saying: “PS mums [sic] English isn’t great yet she inspired her girls to become a Lawyer, teacher, accountant, pharmacist, cabinet minister #WomenPower”. A statement from the Bradford-based Muslim Women’s Council read: Whilst we welcome the addition
al funding pledged today by the Prime Minister for English language support for Muslim women, we do not agree with the assertion that there is a link between a lack of English and extremism. David Cameron is conflating these two issues and is further isolating the very same group of people that he is trying to reach and assist.Although the language funding has been generally greeted as a step in the right direction, it will do little to protect Muslim women from the hate crime that has spiked by more than 300% since the Paris terror attacks, with women and girls as the majority of victims. Nor will it offset the
Islamophobia that saw the winner of The Great British Bake Off, Nadiya Hussain, worry she had “put her kids in danger” by appearing on the show, or address instances like that of the 10-year-old Muslim boy questioned by police apparently because he made a spelling mistake and wrote that he lived in a “terrorist” rather than a “terraced” house. Nor does it alleviate the inherent bias that plays a role in the economic inactivity to which Cameron referred among women of Pakistani and Bangladeshi heritage, who often face discrimination when seeking employment. Nor does it resolve the funding crisis that currently leaves 67% of black and minority ethnic women’s specialist support services uncertain of their future. And while, of course, it is right to tackle instances of gender discrimination within British Muslim communities (a fight long led by Muslim women themselves), it is short-sighted to imply that this is the only direction from which women in the UK, Muslim or otherwise, are likely to experience sexism, discrimination, violence and abuse. It is interesting to see the prime minister announcing this measure under the headline: “We won’t let women be second class citizens”, when his government has failed to ratify the Istanbul convention, which sets minimum standards for governments to meet when tackling violence against women, despite pressure from campaigners. And, despite endless appeals from parents, teachers, students and sexual violence experts, the government has not introduced compulsory sex and relationships education on topics such as consent and healthy relationships in all schools, a measure campaigners believe could have a real impact on violence against women, as well as protecting children from abuse. It is important for the prime minister to declare with such zeal that he wants to tackle the “minority of men” who perpetuate misogynistic attitudes and “exert damaging control” – but the same determination should apply to those exerting dominance and control over the one in four women in England and Wales who experience domestic violence. Of course we should be offering language classes, and other forms of support, to anybody in the UK who needs it. But it isn’t enough to give with one hand and take away with another, or to extend support to Muslim women only when it suits a scaremongering narrative. This arti28大神手机版官网下载 cle contains affiliate links, which means we may earn a small commission if a reader clicks through and makes a purchase. All our journalism is independent and is in no way influenced by any advertiser or commercial initiative. By clicking on an affiliate link, you accept that third-party cookies will be set. More information.