Muslim women call for end to abuse on public transport

Image caption,
Taj Khan describes herself as a "proud Geordie" but says she is mocked on a daily basis

About 200 women have taken part in a rally to highlight abuse and harassment they say they face on public transport.

The group, many of them Muslims, gathered at Grey's Monument in Newcastle city centre.

Taj Khan, of organisers Tyne and Wear Citizens, said she is regularly called a "terrorist" by other passengers.

Nexus, which runs the Metro, said the number of hate crimes on its services was "low" although it accepted some incidents were not reported.

The event, on Saturday, coincided with the first day of Hate Crime Awareness Week, saw women describe their experiences of being mocked and abused.

Ms Khan, who was born and brought up in Newcastle, said she had stopped taking a bag on to public transport because she was often asked if she was carrying a bomb.

Image caption,
Speakers backed a Hate Crime Charter and called for fellow passengers not to look the other way

Recalling a recent assault on a bus, she said: "When I was walking past a woman, she literally stuck her elbow in my ribs - pushing it as hard as she could.

"When I looked at her I saw an intense hatred in her face."

One woman, Nehar, said she had suffered abuse on trains and buses as well as being attacked in the street.

"I'm 4ft 10in. I was attacked by a guy who was 6ft tall and well-built.

"When I've been on public transport I've been called names, people sitting next to me have moved away, there are so many things I've heard.

"I don't feel safe anymore."

Image caption,
Nehar was among the women calling for a change in behaviour and attitudes

Nexus said it is "vital" any form of discrimination is reported to police so it can be investigated.

It added "no-one should feel frightened or intimidated when travelling on public transport".

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