Race not reason behind attacks on India students: Report

Racial attacks
Melbourne, Aug 11: Indian students in Australia were robbed more frequently and were more likely to be the victims of assault as compared to other foreign pupils, but race was not the reason for these attacks, an official report said today (Aug 11).

The 172-page report released by the Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC), which deals with the incidents of assault and robbery crimes against overseas students in Australia between 2005-2009, is a first of its kind against the backdrop of Indian student attack crisis.

In essence, the study "indicates that international students are less likely or as likely to be victims of physical assault and other theft" as the general population of the country.

"Further, the level of crime experienced by international students of different nationalities varied, with Indian students typically experiencing the same or a heightened incidence of assault and other theft than other student nationalities," it said.

"The findings for robbery were more concerning in international students, again predominantly Indian students (males and females), but also Chinese males, were significantly more likely to be the victim of robbery for some jurisdictions for some years compared with Australian reference populations."

The report, however, rejected racism as a cause of the higher theft rate.

One reason it offered was that Indian students had a better grasp of English than students from China, Korea and other source countries, and so were better placed to get jobs where they were exposed to the public. 

"Indian students in particular, are known to have a greater proficiency in English and, as such, appear much more likely than students from east Asian countries to find employment in the service sector," said the report.

"This includes service stations, convenience stores, taxi drivers and other employment that typically involves working late night shifts alone and come with an increased risk of crime, either at the workplace or while travelling to and from work."

Key findings revealed that the rates of assault for Indian students were lower than or on par with rates for the general Australian population, it said.

However, it did found that rates of robbery against Indian students were higher than average for Australians in larger states for most years.

Over half of robberies against Indian students on commercial premises occurred at service stations, it said, adding that the proportion of robberies against Indian students occurring at commercial locations was double than that recorded for students from other countries.

The higher rates of robbery against Indian students, compared with other international students, and Australian comparison populations, appeared to be more likely to occur because of a range of factors: in particular, differences in employment, with large numbers of Indian students working in higher-risk employment (taxi driving and in convenience/fast food stores and service stations), working evening/night shifts and their use of public transport.

"The Australian government takes very seriously any allegations that people are being criminally victimised," an official statement said.

In 2010, the then Minister for Foreign Affairs, Stephen Smith, had announced that the AIC would conduct independent research into crimes against overseas students with particular reference to crime rates against Indian students.


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