CAIRO – Facing a growing job bias, British Muslims and ethnic minorities are removing their hijabs or changing their names to sound more English to beat discrimination, a new parliamentary report has revealed.
“It is staggering that in 21st century Britain there are women who felt they had to remove their hijab or change their name just to be able to compete on the same terms as other candidates when looking for jobs,” Labour MP David Lammy, who chairs the all-party parliamentary group on race and community, told The Guardian on Friday, December 7.
“All unemployment is tragic but we simply can no longer remain so casual about women that are simultaneously the victims of both sexism and racism when they are competing in the labor market.”
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The cross party group came as an attempt to tackle discrimination issues as the official equalities watchdog, the Equality and Human Rights Commission, is facing large budget cuts and criticism over its effectiveness.
The report found that large sections of minority ethnic women are more than twice as likely to be unemployed as their white counterparts.
Revealing the problem, the report confirmed that ethnic discrimination in the British work market was not new, showing that the rate of joblessness for ethnic minority women has failed to come down in the past three decades.
The report also found some employers assume Muslim women would stop work after having children and the MPs and peers say the government must end its "color blind" approach to improving employment equality.
“It has massive implications for families and society as a whole,” MP Lammy added.
"Getting women into jobs is the best way to break families out of the poverty cycle so it is time for the government to make addressing this a priority."
Moreover, the report found that a quarter of the higher unemployment rate faced by women from Pakistani, Bangladeshi and black communities.
“Pakistani and Bangladeshi women are particularly affected, with 20.5% being unemployed compared to 6.8% of white women, with 17.7% of black women also being unemployed,” the report said.
To overcome discrimination, some Muslim women had to remove their hijabs or make their names sound more English.
The report urged a change of the approach taken by successive British governments to face the growing problem.
"We believe that evidence shows that there are varied and complex barriers facing Black, Pakistani and Bangladeshi women which are different from those facing white women or ethnic minority men,” the MPs said in their report.
"Based on this, we would argue that the government's 'colour-blind' approach to tackling unemployment is not appropriate in dealing with the specific issues facing women from these groups," the report added.
British Muslims, estimated at nearly 2.5 million, have been in the eye of storm since the 7/7 2005 attacks.
A Financial Times opinion poll showed that Britain is the most suspicious nation about Muslims.
A poll of the Evening Standard found that a sizable section of London residents harbor negative opinions about Muslims.
The anti-Muslim tide has also been on the rise across Europe, with several countries are restricting the freedom of Muslims to wearing face-veil and building mosques.
Anti-Muslim job bias was also apparent in several European countries.
In April, Amnesty International accused European countries of denying European Muslims jobs for their beliefs in violation with anti-discrimination legislation in Europe.
In France, a study in 2009 found that the employment rate of women holding French citizenship was 60.9 percent. The rate for Moroccan women in the country was 25.6 percent and for Turkish women 14.7 percent.
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