I am not Muslim, nor do I believe in any other religion or God. In fact, I am an atheist.
However, I don’t judge people for what they believe in or for how they live their lives according to their faith.
When I read about Ofsted (the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills) targeting girls wearing hijabs in primary schools I was worried.
As I have mentioned, I am not Muslim and what I am writing does not in any way benefit me.
I grew up as a Catholic and every Sunday my grandmother, like many other women, would put on a lace veil to go to Church.
This veil is to be worn by any woman who wants to meet the Pope.
You may be wondering, where I am going with this.
Ofsted, in their statement, explained that hijabs should not be worn by young girls as it might ‘sexualise’ them.
Personally I (like any feminist), do not think than any item of clothing can sexualise anyone.
To me it is just something like the veil that my grandmother used to wear: a symbol of “modesty”.
Do not get me wrong, I do not think women – regardless of their faith- should cover themselves more than necessary just for modesty.
I believe that we are not allowed to force women to give up their traditions and faith. There is a wonderful quote by Arundhati Roy:
“When (…) an attempt is made to coerce women out of the burqa rather than creating a situation in which a woman can choose what she wishes to do, it’s not about liberating her, but about unclothing her. It becomes an act of humiliation and cultural imperialism. It’s not about the burqa. It’s about the coercion. Coercing a woman out of a burqa is as bad as coercing her into one.”
We as human beings must create this environment where everyone has the same rights and is able to choose for themselves rather than being told what to do.
I think Ofsted’s decision and behaviour towards Muslim primary school girls and their family’s cultural and religious traditions is wrong and it is as bad as women and girls being forced to wear hijabs.
Or just as bad as women being victim-blamed for what they go through just because of what they wear.
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