To mark National Hate Crime Awareness Week, Safrina Ahmed (It Stops Here Project Officer) will be discussing the It Stops Here campaign and its widening focus on religious hate crime.
It Stops Here
It Stops Here is a collaborative campaign by King’s College London and KCLSU to build an environment where our King’s community feels welcome, supported and safe regardless of their gender, sexuality, race or disability. Specifically, it aims to tackle bullying, harassment and sexual misconduct so that all members of our vibrant community can thrive.
The campaign has now run for three years, and it has achieved some important things including but not limited to; training students in Active Bystander Intervention, running an online KEATS module called ‘Consent Matters’ and organising Consent Week with the support of student ambassadors.
The It Stops Here campaign is now expanding and widening its focus to address religious hate crime, which is currently a sector wide priority and we want to make sure King’s is at the forefront of leading this crucial work.
What is Hate Crime?
According to the Home Office, hate crime is
Any crime that is motivated by hostility on the grounds of race, religion, sexual orientation, disability or transgender identity can be classed as a hate crime
Hate crime is any criminal offence is perceived by the victim to be motivated by prejudice. Forms of hate crime have overall risen in England and Wales and religious hate crime made up 7% of hate crime in 2016-2017. Higher Education has not been immune to this.
The Community Security Trust’s Anti-Semitic Incidents Report 2015 showed that of the 924 anti-Semitic incidents that were recorded, 21 involved students, academics or other student bodies. 13 of these incidents took place on HE campuses.
Tell is a national project which records and measures anti-Muslim incidents in the United Kingdom. In 2015, they received 1,128 reports of anti-Muslim incidents in 2015. Of the 468 ‘offline’ attacks, 6% of female victims and 14% of all male victims were at an educational institution when the incident occurred.
Whilst this data is not wholly reliable, it indicates the need for institutions to tackle religious hate crime so that it was better recorded, and all our students and staff are able to study and work free from any form of religious intolerance.
Many students also experience religious hate crime at the intersection of their identities. Evidence submitted to the UUK’s taskforce shown that some women were targeted for sexual harassment across a number of their characteristics – such as their ethnicity, race, and faith.
Research from the National Union of Students found that one in three of their respondents were fairly or very worried about experiencing verbal abuse, physical attacks, vandalism or property damage due to their religion at their place of study. This was a gendered experience; women who wear Islamic garments were significantly more likely to be very worried about being abused.
Our Next Steps
Evidence from both within and out of the sector has highlighted the importance of Higher Education institutions responding to religious hate crime. It is for this reason that the Office for Students pledged to tackle the problem and given eleven universities, including King’s, £480,000 worth of funding to tackle religious hate crime.
Over the next two years, we will be exploring different ways to ensure we protect our community against religious hate crime and harassment such as community-specific active bystander workshops, an interfaith student fund and improved anonymous disclosure platforms.