By Benjamin Omoike
A coalition of Islamic Group on Wednesday decried the continued discrimination against women in hijab, saying that prejudice against women in veils is not only unconstitutional but also antithetical to the development of the country.
According to the group, continued denial of Muslim girls and women in hijab deprives and reduces the chances of the victims getting further education and other things as guaranteed by the constitution, saying that the promotion of the girl-child education could only be achieved if the girls in hijab were not harrased or molested by their teachers on the basis of hijab usage.
Speaking at a Press Conference to commemorate 2020 World Hijab Day which comes up on February 1, 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, with their performance, proven to the world that their wearing the veil wasn’t a hindrance to excellence.
Lamenting that the effect of discrimination needed to be urgently addressed, Mutiat said: “Give this a thought, a girl that was forced to remove her Hijab in order to write an exam will definitely not perform optimally, reducing the chance of getting a 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 the cure for cancer. The muslim nurse who had to change her profession because she was not allowed to wear her hijab, may be 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 appealed to the Federal Government to ensure that women in hijab are given equal opportunity and not treated unjustly on the basis of their appearance, saying that women in hijab have the capacity to perform excellently in their callings.
She said: “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.
“An indirect discrimination exists where a rule is made in general but will put some people in a disadvantageous position. For example, 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 hijab. So that general rule
indirectly discriminates against a female Muslim who has made a free choice to wear the hijab.”
She said depsite court rullings on the rights of women to use hijab, women in hijab are still being treated unlawfully whenever they want to obtain international passport, National I.D Card, and even during WAEC and UTME registration.