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Race Discrimination Commissioner advises on how to fight racial abuse

Recently a Muslim couple was subject to racist abuse while travelling on a train in Sydney.

The verbal attacker lashed out with comments like, “Read the newspapers, why are you following this religion for, why do you wear things like that so you can marry a man who’s going to go marry a 6-year-old?”

Similar incidents have made the news recently, but what should a person do if they find themselves the target of racial abuse while out in public? We spoke to Australian Race Discrimination Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane, and he says there are several steps to take to make sure people don’t stay silent when it comes to racial attacks.

Stand up to the offender

Soutphommasane says, that if the situation is safe enough to allow for it, stand up against the person who is attacking you with abuse. “When faced with racial discrimination or abuse, one of the most powerful things you can do is to send a message that the abuse is not acceptable,” Soutphommasane says. “If it is safe to do so, you can speak up against the racial abuse. It doesn’t have to be aggressive, in fact it’s often more effective if it’s not. It could be as simple as ‘What you just said is really offensive and rude.'”

More: Racist neighbour charged after attacking an African family (VIDEO)

Ignore and walk away

But if the situation continues to escalate and you fear it could turn violent, then it is better to simply walk away and contact the authorities. “Sometimes it may be better to say nothing. Walking away may defuse the situation. If you feel threatened or unsafe at any time you should call the police.”

File a complaint

If you are faced with racial abuse, a complaint can be reported to the Australian Human Rights Commission. “The Commission can investigate and resolve complaints where people have been on the receiving end of racial discrimination or abuse. Making a complaint to the Commission is free and confidential,” Soutphommasane advises.

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Report online racism

Racist attacks also occur on social media, and Soutphommasane suggests contacting sites directly about people who post racist material. “Most social media sites have policies for dealing with offensive materials. This information is usually available on social media sites under ‘guidelines,’ ‘standards’ or ‘terms of use.'”

As the Australian Race Discrimination Commissioner warns, “If racial abuse goes unreported, or is met by silence, it can embolden perpetrators to continue with their racism and bigotry.”

Have you been affected by racism? How did you handle the situation? Share your experiences with us in the comments section below.

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