Study questions oppression of Muslim women

By Gerald V. Paul

A Canadian study suggests the public focuses unfairly on Muslim women and that they are no more oppressed than groups from other faiths.

“The idea that Muslims hold values that make it difficult for them to integrate into Canadian society is misguided. It also suggests how international politics can affect our attitudes toward immigrants,” said U of T Prof. Jeffrey Reitz, lead author of the study.

Co-authors, Ryerson Prof. Rupa Banerjee and Mai Phan, an instructor in U of T’s sociology department, compared labour market participation of both genders in different religious group as a barometer of equality.

Gender Equality in Canada’s Newly Growing Religious Minorities, published in the latest issue of Ethnic and Racial Studies, says, “When you look at the evidence of labour force gender differences, Muslims are not that much different from Hindus, Sikhs and Christians but a lot of the public focus has been directed unfairly at the Muslims. Before we label a group, we must engage the data and look for evidence.”

Commenting on the study, Alia Hogben of the Canadian Council of Muslim Women said there could be a link between employment and repression but it may be just one factor as opposed to the main factor.

Hogben identified foreign credential recognition and racism in the job market as problems.

Gerald V. Paul
Gerald V. Paul