Saira Khan has claimed she grew up ‘thinking it was acceptable for men to shout at women and that hitting is part of our culture and normal’.
Saira, 50 – who was born and raised in Derbyshire to working class immigrant parents from Pakistan administered Kashmir – said of Asian women in the UK: ‘Many come from places like Pakistan, India and Bangladesh, with no knowledge of the language.’
Calling for women to ‘speak up’, she added ‘[They] are forced to be dutiful maids at the mercy of the families they have been married into.’
Growing up: Saira Khan, 50, has claimed she grew up ‘thinking it was acceptable for men to shout at women and that hitting is part of our culture and normal’
Promoting a South Asian domestic abuse charity while writing in her latest column for The Mirror, the former Loose Women presenter said in twelve months the Shanatona charity has helped over 1,000 women who did not want to go to the police.
Detailing the case of one mother who ‘always’ had black eyes, Saira claimed it was ‘unacceptable’ that she was not helped by her own community despite her injuries.
She concluded: ‘It’s domestic abuse and there are laws in this country to protect us from it.’
In April, Saira claimed her Pakistani culture had been more restrictive to her progression than any racism she has encountered as an Asian woman in the United Kingdom.
Call for action: Calling for women to ‘speak up’, Saira added ‘[They] are forced to be dutiful maids at the mercy of the families they have been married into’
The presenter insisted she encountered no significant social boundaries while growing up on a council estate and credited British society for helping her make something of herself.
Sharing a lengthy Instagram post at the time, Saira, who was raised a Muslim, insisted her biggest obstacles have come from within the Asian community itself.
She wrote: ‘As an Asian woman born in this country to immigrant parents, I am proud to be British, grateful for this country helping my parents to help me to recognise and realise my potential.
Speaking out: In April Saira claimed her Pakistani culture has been more restrictive to her progression than any racism she has encountered as an Asian woman in the United Kingdom
‘If I’m honest, as an Asian woman it’s my Asian culture that has tried to hold me back more than any racism I have faced. That’s my truth.’
Saira also insisted racism is not the one-way street it has been portrayed through the spate of recent protests and marches conducted in major cities across the world.
Using her mixed her mixed heritage marriage to husband Steven Hyde – with whom she raises two children – as an example, she added: ‘We all have to play our part in tackling racism, so many of us are ignorant of each other’s cultural background and religious beliefs which leads to misunderstandings and division.
Divisive opinion: Sharing a lengthy Instagram post, the presenter insisted she has encountered no significant external boundaries as an Asian woman
‘As a woman in a mixed marriage with a mixed race child, I can say from first hand experience, there is prejudice on both sides – it is not just White people hating on those of colour.
‘The colour of my skin has not hindered my progress in this country. In fact right now, the world we live in, it’s an advantage to be a woman of colour, because there is a need from all institutions for better representation of our society.
‘The focus on white people and their unconscious bias has been documented well.’
The presenter also urged minority groups to examine their own feelings towards other cultures, religions and skin colours.
She wrote: ‘I think it is also time for many Asian and Black communities to look deep at their own prejudices and admit that they too need to make changes in order to take advantage of all the opportunities this country had to offer.
‘I grew up on a council estate. I know the socio /economic barriers- but this country does help those who want to help themselves.
‘It was the British culture not the Asian one that was more encouraging for me to make the most of myself. It’s hard to admit that, I know the backlash I will get. But that’s my truth.
‘Being a victim is easy. Getting off your a**e and making it happen with the right attitude is bloody hard. But that’s what it takes.’
She added: ‘I am not an academic, I’m not in denial of racism, I’m in a fortunate position to see both sides and I know that what has worked for me is to treat everyone the way I would want them to treat me, regardless of my colour, religion, race sexual orientation, gender , education or class.
‘If you harbour any prejudice, discrimination of any kind – you’re a loser – that’s a fact – regardless of the colour of your skin.’
Saira previously announced she’s no longer a practising Muslim after years of feeling ‘guilty, caged and unhappy’.
All change: Saira previously announced she’s no longer a practising Muslim after years of feeling ‘guilty, caged and unhappy’
The former Loose Women panellist revealed she was led to share her life update after receiving a ‘disgusting message from a troll’ as she declared: ‘This was the last taboo to overcome before I could live my best life.’
The journalist confessed she doesn’t want to ‘inadvertently confuse, represent or unintentionally hurt others’ of the Muslim faith after being met with assumptions about fasting for Ramadan, not drinking and abstaining from sex before marriage.
She told The Mirror: ‘Saying I’m Muslim and then having a boyfriend, wearing clothes that go against the Muslim dress code, having a drink and living a non-Muslim life only brings guilt, self-loathing, loneliness and a feeling of being caged.’
Saira also clarified that while some Muslims ‘are the most humble people I know’ and most of her values are based on the ‘spiritual aspect of the faith’, she’s influenced by other teachings and has only been ‘hurting’ herself by ‘living a lie’ for her loved ones.
She added: ‘It has taken me till the age of 50 to find the courage to say it. I’m doing it now for my own wellbeing. I want to be honest and feel free to live my life by my own rules. I have found a huge relief in being honest.
Both ways: ‘As a woman in a mixed marriage with a mixed race child, I can say from first hand experience, there is prejudice on both sides – it is not just White people hating on those of colour,’ she wrote
‘I know that one of the reasons I have been so angry and unhappy in my life is because of the many contradictions I’ve had to live with. I’ve not dared to share these feelings before because the very few Muslim women who have are called sinful and some have even been targeted with death threats.’
Saira, who shares son Zac, 12, and daughter Amara, nine, with businessman husband Steve Hyde, was nominated for the Services to Media award at the British Muslim Awards in 2013 and 2015.
The host left long-running lunchtime staple Loose Women in December 2020, shortly after Andrea McClean announced her resignation.
Happy family: The presenter shares son Zac, 12, and daughter Amara, nine, with businessman husband of over 15 years, Steve Hyde