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Compulsory hijabs in English schools ‘sexualise’ young girls

Compulsory hijabs in English schools ‘sexualise’ young girls

The National Secular Society has lodged a complaint with education authorities over the forced wearing of headscarves by girls attending dozens of schools in England.

The NSS, according to its website, examined uniform policies on the websites of registered Islamic schools and found that girls potentially as young as four are instructed to wear the hijab as part of the official uniform policy.

Out of 142 Islamic schools that accept girls, 59 have uniform policies on their website that suggest a headscarf or another form of hijab is compulsory. This includes eight state-funded schools and 27 primary schools ­– three of which are state-funded.

In some cases the requirement is very explicit. At Feversham College in Bradford the policy states:

It is very important that the uniform is loose fitting and modest and that the hijaab is fitted closely to the head. The College uniform is COMPULSORY.

Tayyibah Girls’ School in Hackney states:

The school is not willing to compromise on any issues regarding uniform.

Girls at Al-Ihsaan Community College in Leicester are told they must wear either a “jilbaab or niqab”.

The jilbaab is a long loose-fitting garment which covers the body except the hands, face and feet. Redstone Educational Academy in Birmingham includes the jilbaab as part of the compulsory uniform. Olive Secondary in Bradford says that girls’ faces “must be covered” outside.

Eighteen schools explicitly state in their online uniform policy that the hijab is optional. Thirteen of these are state-funded.

The NSS has written to the Secretary of State for Education, Justine Greening, about the issue. The letter called for the Government to ensure girls from Muslim backgrounds are supported to have free choices, rather than having so called “modesty” codes imposed on them. It urged the Government to issue guidance making clear that a decision not to incorporate the hijab into a school uniform will be supported by the Government, and that the freedom to allow the hijab to be worn does not extend to primary schools.

The letter said:

All schools have a duty to ‘actively promote’ individual liberty, to ensure young people leave school prepared for life in modern Britain.

In our view, the forcing of a child to wear the hijab, or any other item of religious clothing, is entirely at odds with this fundamental British value and with wider human rights norms on children’s rights. This conflict needs to be addressed.

The letter has been co-signed by several feminists from Muslim backgrounds including Sara Khan of Inspire, Amina Lone of the Social Action & Research Foundation and human rights activist Yasmin Rehman.

NSS campaigns director, Stephen Evans, commented:

If individual liberty means anything it all, surely it means allowing young people to develop their own beliefs and decide for themselves how they choose to manifest them. Schools should be empowering girls to make their own decisions once they are ready to do so.

Pupils from Muslim backgrounds should be supported to have free choices, not have so called ‘modesty’ codes imposed on them. No pupil should be forced to adopt religious practices or obliged to wear the hijab whilst at school.

The latest revelations come three weeks after it emerged that girls as young as five are wearing the hijab at school, as thousands of non-Islamic schools incorporate it into their uniform codes.

The following week campaigners led by Ms Lone called for a “robust” response.

Signatories to the letter said:

We are further concerned that a number of non-Islamic schools appear to be acceding to fundamentalist pressure to incorporate the hijab into their uniform. Whilst we fully support efforts to allow children from Muslim backgrounds to better integrate, a desire to be ‘inclusive’ should not automatically lead to the accommodation of illiberal and repressive cultural norms.

Given the ‘justifications’ that lie behind so called ‘modesty’ codes, and its implicit sexualisation of children, we regard it as a matter of deep regret that so many schools are facilitating young girls being dressed in the hijab.

Whilst policies permitted the wearing of the hijab are so often framed in terms of choice and freedom, we urge you to recognise that this ‘freedom’ is often dictated by social pressure.

Education policy should empower girls and help them to make their own decisions once they are ready to do so. We therefore call on you to work alongside Ofsted to ensure that girls from Muslim backgrounds are supported to have free choices

Hat tip: BarrieJohn

13 responses to “Compulsory hijabs in English schools ‘sexualise’ young girls”

  1. L.Long says:

    isLame is evil and hates women. The girls have to be semi-tented because…Oh! Right! the immature male teachers can’t control themselves as the little boys would not really care except for the ahole teachings of their rapist dads! They must be rapist if they can’t control themselves if they see a girls hair!

  2. Broga says:

    Don’t expect our supine government to take vigorous action.

  3. Tee says:

    Sectrarian education must be banned. Teaching kids dogmatic trash and all the inhenrent bigotry, hate and prejudices is just plain wrong. Ill can only come from such policy.

  4. Italian Scallion says:

    I think it’s about time for all the Muslim women to wake up and smell the coffee. Your stupid looking Hallowe’en costumes might have been okay 3000 years ago, but this is the 21st century. Also, your costume has absolutely nothing at all to do with religion, it’s all about men controlling women. Pure and simple.

  5. AgentCormac says:

    I was about to post a comment denigrating Feversham’s claim to be a ‘specialist science college’ because I assumed that the word ‘evolution’ wouldn’t even feature in its curriculum. However, we all know what assumption is the mother of! And, accordingly, I’ll happily admit that I was wrong. So while I certainly don’t agree with the college’s dress code, I’m glad to see that at least the place seems to include human evolution as part of its biology course.

    http://www.fevershamcollege.com/subjects-science.php

  6. Broga says:

    AgentCormac: Their science curriculum is impressive.

  7. Angela_K says:

    Broga, AgentCormac, I wonder what sort cognitive bending goes on to square the three physical sciences with the tosh in the koran, I bet their holy book trumps scientific facts.

  8. Broga says:

    Angela K: The outcome of a curriculum depends, of course, on the quality and attitudes of the teachers. The insistence on following the koran is not encouraging.

  9. barriejohn says:

    The following report isn’t very encouraging, though it is dated 1995 so may be out of date now:

    https://www.independent.co.uk/news/islamic-schools-putting-children-in-a-class-of-their-own-1524268.html

    “If the vast majority of people think that evolutionary theory based on Darwin is indisputable, then it is very worrying,” said the chairman of the school’s board, Akram Khan-Cheema, a former inspector of schools for the local education authority. “We must help the world,” he explained.

    What?

  10. barriejohn says:

    Religious Education shows the same depressing pattern as other “faith schools”:

    http://www.fevershamcollege.com/subjects-religious-education.php

    The Religious Studies curriculum encourages students to to learn from different religions, beliefs, values and traditions whilst exploring their own belief.

    If you look at the actual syllabus, that statement appears to be nonsense!

  11. Brian Jordan says:

    @barriejohn:
    The Religious Studies curriculum encourages students to to learn from different religions, beliefs, values and traditions whilst exploring their own belief.
    All the RE peddlars say that or something similar. It translates as: look at those other religions, and see the errors of their ways. How, in all honesty, could it not mean that? Surely even secular RE could go no further than to delete the “other”.

  12. Brian Jordan says:

    Perhaps I was being a bit too harsh there. There’s always the example of the White Queen’s Academy. There they start the day fasting, procede to multi-faith worship and then, having believed six impossible things, have breakfast.

  13. barriejohn says:

    Brian Jordan: Spot on. When I was a young Christian, we were all given a little booklet (which I believe is still available) called “Truth or Error”, which contained a fold-out chart that showed the beliefs of many sects and religions compared to “what the Bible says”,and, guess what, THEY WERE ALL WRONG. I don’t need telling what passes for “Comparative Religion” in these faith academies, because I’m not stupid!

    http://i24.photobucket.com/albums/c5/buzzardhut/Church1.jpg

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