There’s a reason Muslim women struggle to make their voices heard

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Zesha Saleem is a young, hijab-wearing freelance journalist at the start of her career. Like all young journalists, she has developed a tough exterior in order to be able to weather the unpredictability of work and the sting of rejection. But when she is successful and her work is commissioned and published, she has to contend with another obstacle: online abuse.

“Whatever I write, there will always be people forcing me to justify things that have nothing to do with the piece,” she says. She is frequently asked if she has been forced to wear the hijab, questioned on what her views are on women being arrested in other countries for not wearing it, and told that she can’t be taken seriously on matters of science if she believes in Allah. Her parents worry about how long she can carry on in her chosen field if this is the reception that accompanies her hard work.