Friday 24 November 2017

Response to the Proposal to Question School Girls Wearing Hijab

When I found out Ofsted school inspectors have been told to question primary school girls wearing hijab I was stunned. Amanda Spielman, head of Ofsted, is the lady responsible for this. She recently met with campaigners who are against girls wearing a hijab in school. Well, no wonder she has become suspicious of it. I guess noone in that meeting was telling the other side of the story. I would like to know why she did not also meet with women who are in favour of the hijab. Surely she must know it is important to look at both sides of the argument before drawing a balanced conclusion and acting upon it.

According to Ms Spielman, donning a hijab could be seen as sexualising young girls! What?! How did you work that out Ms Spielman? Lets take a look at what could have led her to this unbelievable conclusion.

It becomes compulsory for a girl to wear a hijab once she reaches puberty. I guess Ms Spielman has made this link between hijab and puberty and thought, therefore, if a young girl wears it they are being sexualised. However, I do not understand how covering a body part could be construed as sexualisation as normally the opposite is true.

If girls wearing a hijab is "sexualising" them, couldn't the same be said for girls who wear skirts or dresses to school or wear their hair in a particular way? Of course not, the thought is ridiculous.  I propose it is, in fact, Ms Spielman who is attempting to sexualise them with her insensitive and ludicrous comments.

Personally, I am not a fan of young girls wearing hijab, however, I respect that some choose to do so. I was surprised when my daughter went through a phase of wearing the hijab when she turned two years old. I did not encourage it mainly because I worried about the reaction we would get out and about if people thought I was forcing her to wear it. As a Muslim convert I can understand why some non-Muslims may think this because it is what I once would have thought. 

I do actually remember one negative experience. We were out shopping and my daughter took off her hijab and wanted to put it back on again. My husband was helping her and a lady walked by saying, ' Poor girl'. I was shocked at the reaction but I guess a lot of non-Muslims could think that my daughter was being forced to wear it. Perhaps this is what Ms Spielman and the anti-hijab campaigners think too.

My daughter soon grew out of the hijab-wearing phase and now, at the age of seven, just wears it occasionally at Quran class or when she goes to the mosque. Why did she wear it so much when she was younger? She just wanted to be like mummy. Just as little girls want to dress up like mummy by trying on their high heels and make up, the same is true for little girls who see their mummies wearing hijab and wanting to try it on. 

As the main female person in her life, my daughter looks up to me and tells me I am her role model; a fact I need to take very seriously. In fact, just last night she came home from Brownies with a sheet of paper she had filled out about how I am her role model! I was so touched by this. She told me how other girls had written about their favourite singers but she had written about me!

So, why are all these young British school girls going to school wearing hijab? Perhaps, like my daughter, they just want to. They see their mothers wearing it and want to look like them. On the other hand, they may have been forced but I have yet to come across a little girl who has been forced to wear it.

If the objective of questioning girls in school why they wear it is to determine if they have been forced to or not, would they tell inspectors this? Even if they did, what good would this do? Surely it is better for inspectors to be questioning the parents instead of intimidating young girls.

Will children who wear other religious symbols such as a turban or kipa also be subject to questioning? It does not sound like it. So why are Muslim girls being discriminated against in this way?

As hijab is not obligatory before a certain age, perhaps the solution is to ban them at school before a certain age. But if this was to happen, then all religious symbols should be banned too. It could get very complicated so perhaps we should just leave things as they are.

If you, like me, are shocked at the proposal to question school girls wearing hijab and would like to do something about it, Amaliah have written a great article explaining what you can do. Check it out here. 

What are your thoughts on the proposal to question young school girls wearing hijab? Let me know by leaving a comment below.


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