Ofsted tackles serious issues… the hijab!
The hijab has finally come under the spotlight. For all the wrong reasons of course. Earlier this week Amanda Spielman, the head of Ofsted along with the chief inspectors decided that they would be questioning Muslim schoolgirls why they wear the headscarf otherwise known as the hijab.
The reasoning applied behind this is that they want to tackle situations where donning a hijab “could be interpreted as sexualisation” at a young age of 4 or 5.
Imagine my utter amazement when I read this nonsense. I am sure that the majority of you out there would have felt the same. With an environment so focused on becoming hostile against Islam it seems like this is just another dig to belittle us.
Hijab – another battle for Muslims
Muslim women that currently wear the hijab are already vulnerable to abuse and harassment due to an islamophobia climate. Now it seems that our Muslim children will also be put under constant scrutiny, one which is obviously not applied too non-Muslim children.
Hitting on the topic of sexualisation, I was quite amused by the word. Surely she must see the absurdity of what she is saying? With children in schools trying to shorten the length of their skirts, constantly attempting to beautify themselves the hijab is nothing in comparison.
Also, why are they not focusing on the more serious situation where girls are wanting to have their vaginas beautified? Now that is sexual objectification!
Girls as young as 9 seem to have a certain image of how it should look….is she really thinking that wearing a hijab is somehow a sexualisation?
For those that do not know about “Vagina surgery” let me tell you a little about it. Young girls starting from the age of 9 are turning up at their local surgeries wanting a vaginal surgery.
Why because they feel their vagina is not pretty enough, the lips are misshapen amongst other things. More than 200 girls under 18 were found to have had the surgery (called labiaplasty).
In the BBC news Dr Crouch, who chairs the British Society for Paediatric and Adolescent Gynaecology, said in her work for the NHS she was yet to see a girl who needed the operation.
Girls will sometimes come out with comments like, ‘I just hate it, I just want it removed,’ and for a girl to feel that way about any part of her body – especially a part that’s intimate – is very upsetting.
A lot of this is happening because of the way people are portraying how a girl’s genitals should look. Pornography is also advocating this.
I would suggest Ms Spielman look at targeting these scenarios where the mental health of children is being affected due to lack of education rather than worrying about why they are wearing hijabs!
This sort of mindset really will not help. You are effectively pushing Muslim girls into a corner. So many Muslim women have worn the hijab at a young age and done well in life.
The Muslim Council of Britain secretary-general, Harun Khan has said the following:
It is deeply worrying that Ofsted has announced it will be specifically targeting and quizzing young Muslim girls who choose to wear the headscarf…..It sends a clear message to all British women who adopt this that they are second-class citizens, that while they are free to wear the headscarf, the establishment would prefer that they do not.
He then goes on to add that:
“The many British Muslims who choose to wear the headscarf have done extremely well in education and are breaking glass ceilings. It is disappointing that this is becoming policy without even engaging with a diverse set of mainstream Muslim voices on the topic”.
Are children forced to wear it?
I personally have two nieces that have not hit puberty yet, neither of the two wears a hijab. However, for a short period, they were interested in wearing the hijab and nobody stopped them.
Did we force them to wear it? No. The desire came from seeing me and my sister-in-law’s wearing the hijab and they wanted to copy us and liked the idea.
My 9-year-old niece herself says that she will wear it as soon as she starts high school, who am I to say no you won’t? I run a business selling hijabs, she is learning and picking up from me how important hijabs are and why we wear them. She loves asking questions and finding out about religion and the hijab Ma Shah Allah.
Alhumdolillah she is a sensible girl and she knows between right and wrong. She knows that she needs to cover her body according to the rules of Islam, is that really such a bad thing?
I am sure the majority of kids out there see their mothers and other family members as a role model and copy them. There is no harm in it.I think the biggest issue out there should be the type of clothes girls are wearing in public.
I have met non-Muslims that are petrified of how their friends/family members might be dressing. They worry that they might be raped or hurt. Wearing a hijab and being fully covered should be the least of their worries.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am not judging anyone. In this country, people are free to dress as they please.
However, they must realise how silly it is to say being covered is “sexualisation” but being near enough naked would be free to wear what you want!
Views of Jewish establishments
Jewish Rabbi David Meyer, executive director of Partnerships for Jewish Schools, fears Ofsted is:
in danger of falling into the trap of those with an anti-faith agenda and undermining the very foundations of tolerance and freedom of practice it has been charged to uphold
Judith Nemath the executive director of the National Association of Orthodox Jewish Schools has responded brilliantly by saying:
Even though Ms Spielman may find the sight of the hijab forbidding, I cannot imagine wearing a hijab prevents the brain from processing information and skills, which is at the forefront of education…Indeed, as they are covered up, it is likely Muslim girls can concentrate better on their work without the distraction of attracting unwarranted attention from their opposite gender.
Are Muslims being treated unjustly?
Yes. My genuine concern is that all of this is just a marginalisation of Muslims.
Should they not also be targeting Sikh boys who wear a turban? I mean surely that is sexualisation as well. What about Jewish boys that that wear the kippah?
Now don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that Jewish boys and Sikh boys have not had their share of tough times. They have. But, it is frustrating to see Muslims just being targeted at a time where there are unsettling feelings against Muslims already!
I mean seriously with all the problems Ofsted is facing in the schools on budgeting, lack of placements for children are they really going to focus on something so ridiculous?
Mental health is on the rise with children resorting to self-harm, families are suffering because they do not have enough to get by. Children are coming to school without having breakfast. People are being crammed into hotel rooms and bed & breakfasts because they are homeless.
This is directly affecting the children in terms of mental health, disturbance of life, losing interaction with family and friends as they have to move away somewhere far amongst so many other things.
To me, it just seems as if we have been alienated for the wrongs of others. The terrorist attacks that have taken place this year seem to be sparking these sort of reactions. Suddenly they have taken the “big brother” route, one that is specially made for us. We are being questioned about everything.
If people genuinely got to know Muslims they would realise that we are a pretty friendly bunch. We don’t go around thinking about killing people, thinking about controlling others or wishing to bomb down places.
Making us feel like outsiders will only serve to create further hatred between people. Right now we all need to be standing together. It is people like Ms Spielman that are letting the real terrorists win.
Views of ex-teachers and parents
I have spoken ex-teachers, teachers and Mothers and here is what they have to say:
Speaking to ex-teacher and Instagram blogger Modestlywrapped I get her opinion on the matter.
“The question you’ve got to ask is what are Ofsted hoping to achieve? Don’t get me wrong, as an ex-teacher I see zero merit in Ofsted’s existence full stop! But did they mention questioning young Sikh boys on why they wear a Patka? No they’re not. Because we fail to see that girls are capable of making a choice or that they simply copying their mom.
Heaven forbid a girl wears an additional piece of clothing! In all honesty I ignore 100% of the drivel that comes out of Ofsted’s mouth. I ignored ‘prevent’ I ignored ‘this is what makes an outstanding teacher’ because I place no value on their opinion. And the fact is, I reckon 100% teachers feel the same way! So don’t worry ladies, girls and moms of daughter’s. it’s just another mondless Ofsted report that no teacher will follow!”
Whilst I can understand concerns of “extremism”, I’m actually shocked and disgusted that young Muslim GIRLS are being targeted.
As someone who’s always worn hijab and been proud of representing my religion (which I believe to be a peaceful one), I find it so worrying that young girls are being questioned as to why they’re wearing hijab.
I first wore a hijab at the age of around 7, because I attended a multicultural Muslim Saturday school to learn Arabic and it was in a mosque so wearing a headscarf was not only respectful to the mosque but also like a uniform.
If I had been asked at that age why I’m wearing a hijab, I would have said either that it’s because my mum wears it or because my friends do.
I went without wearing hijab to regular school for some time until I became “of age” in secondary school and even then I would have said “because my religion asks me to” or “my mum/family wear it”.
Only now as I’m almost reaching the age of 30 do I have a better understanding of why I wear hijab and how it “protects” me, so to question young Muslim girls and claim it sexualises them is ridiculous and discriminatory.
I don’t see other religions’ attire being picked on and nor would I want to because we should all be allowed to wear whatever we like.
Questioning young girls will only make them feel singled out further from others and possibly confuse them at a young age which I think is harmful and a step too far as it undermines a parent who has clearly allowed/wanted their child to wear the hijab.
In conclusion, I think that Ofsted needs to take a chill pill and just let people live their lives. It is rude and really disturbing to be questioned about why you wear the hijab. Maybe Amanda Spielman should be asked why she needs to wear a skirt?
I wonder why the Cambridge educated, middle-class white lady in a position of authority is hell-bent on imposing her own view that the hijab is a mode of sexualising women and girls? clearly, it shows her misunderstanding of the matter as well as our religion and core belief system.
All views are most welcome. I look forward to hearing from you. Please do share and tweet!