By Temitope Akintoye,
A coalition of Islamic Group has decried continued discrimination against women in hijab, a Muslim headscarf, describing the actions as prejudice which is unconstitutional and inimical to development of the country.
According to the group, continued denial of Muslim girls and women in hijab reduces chances of victims getting further education and other things guaranteed by the 1999 constitution.
The group stressed that promotion of girl child education, which the Federal and State Governments currently advocates, can only be achieved if the girls in hijab are not harassed or molested by their teachers on the basis of hijab usage.
Speaking at a Press Conference to commemorate the 2020 World Hijab Day, yesterday, the Executive Director Hijab Right Advocacy Initiative, Hajia Mutiat Balogun, said that it was high time Nigerians stopped needless discrimination against women on the basis of hijab. She added that women and girls in hijab have performed proven to the world that their
Arguing on urgent need to address effect of discrimination, Balogun said: “Give this a thought, girl that was forced to remove her Hijab in order to write an exam will definitely not perform optimally reducing the chance of getting further education, despite our claims of promoting the education of the girl child.
“A researcher screened out of a job placement because of the hijab may be the one in whose mind is trapped in the cure for cancer. The Muslim nurse who had to change her profession because she was not allowed to wear her hijab, maybe just the person you need to get you through your hard time in hospital! Denying a person their right not only affects them but affects us all. What we Muslim women want is simple, we want to secure our rights as provided by the Constitution,” she added.
Balogun, who is also a lawyer, urged that governments to ensure that women in hijab are given equal opportunity and not treated unjustly on the basis of their appearance, saying women in hijab have the capacity to perform excellently in their callings.
“We want to be allowed to carry out our duties and contribute to our society without fear of discrimination or experiencing discrimination. We want our daughters to be able to attend schools, register and write exams in their hijab without intimidation, abuse and discrimination.We want to have equal access to services of regulatory bodies without being asked or expected to first compromise our faith. We want to be given a level playing field like everyone else, not to be denied job interviews, job placements and opportunities because we dress as obligated by our faith.
“We want our daughters to be able to attend schools, register and write exams in their hijab without intimidation, abuse and discrimination. We want to have equal access to services of regulatory bodies without being asked or expected to first compromise our faith. We want to be given a level playing field like everyone else, not to be denied job interviews, job placements, and opportunities because we dress as obligated by our faith. May we all be able to build a nation where peace and justice shall reign.”
She added that if any rule exists from the government, its institution or agencies banning/disallowing the hijab, then it is in flagrant disregard to the constitutional guarantees.
Balogun lamented that despite court rulings on the right of women to use hijab, women in hijab were still being treated unlawfully whenever they want to obtain an international passport, National ID Card, and even during WAEC and UTME registration.
“An indirect discrimination exists where a rule is made in general but will put some people in a disadvantageous position. E.g No one should put anything on his or her head. It seems to apply to everyone without discrimination, but
Muslims will be affected because they MUST put on a hijab. So that general rule
indirectly discriminates against a female Muslim who has made a free choice to
wear the hijab,” the director added.