Date of Award

2018

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Social Work Honours

School

School of Arts and Humanities

First Advisor

Dr Lynelle Watts

Abstract

The word ‘Islamophobia’ has gained and continues to gain wider currency in both the academic and public sphere. In the recent years, there has been an increase in literature focusing on Muslims and their experiences living in Western societies. It has been established that religious discrimination impacts negatively on self-esteem, mental wellbeing and one’s sense of identity. However, there is little research focusing on Muslim veiled women in particular even though it has been established that people who are visibly Muslim are more vulnerable to religious discrimination. This phenomenological study explored the lived experience of Muslim veiled women from South West Western Australia who experience religious discrimination. The aim of this research was to understand the strategies utilised by these women to manage discrimination in their everyday lives.

The findings demonstrated the importance of the Mussollah (mosque) as a community, the women’s agency and reflexivity, and the role of aspiration in negotiating multiple forms of discrimination. It was found that religious discrimination intersects with other aspects such as gender and ethnicity. The research demonstrates the women’s ability to understand the context that they are living in and negotiate the discourses present in society towards Islam and Muslims. This enables the women to re-construct their own narratives of what it is to be a ‘Muslim woman’ in their present context. This study demonstrates importance of considering the strengths and resilience of individuals under conditions of adversity.

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