Hijab Rights Advocacy Initiative (HRAI), which is a body of Muslim highly placed women in Lagos today spoke against the discrimination of women in Hijab, as they urged the National Assembly to make laws that will protect the rights of women wearing Hijab.
HRAI is a coalition of Al-Muminat, The Criterion, Muslim Society of Nigeria, MSSN, Federation of Muslim Women Association of Nigeria, FOMWAN, and Guild of Muslim Professionals. The group have call for stiffer penalty on those who kick against the wearing of Hijab as their constitutional right must always be protected by government through laws.
According to the group, most women in Hijab have been denied jobs and other opportunities, even when they are qualified for such jobs and opportunities.
In a press briefing at the Bagauda Kaltho Press Centre, Lagos State Secretariat, the Coordinator of the group, Hajia Mutiat Orolu-Balogun, bemoaned persistent discrimination and ill- treatment, saying women in Hijab were forced to expose their ears while they were also forced to expose their heads before writing Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examinations (UTME) or geting Bank Verification Number (BVN).
She appealed to the government at all levels to stop the descriminations and harassment.
“Imagine being asked to take off your shirt or your trousers because you wanted to get your driving licence, or being told you would not be able to vote in the next elections because you wouldn’t bare your shoulders or show your cleavage in the picture on your voters card, or that you wouldn’t have access to the funds in your bank account because you refused to show your bare back in order to register for your BVN.
“These, and worse, are what a Muslim woman who wears the Hijab feels when she is asked to take off her hijab or expose her ears before she could be allowed her constitutional rights!” she said.
Orolu-Balogun described hijab as a religious duty and an obligation on every Muslim woman in the observance of her faith, saying that hijab was not culture of Arabs or a fashion accessory that one might discard at will.
She lamented a case in particular where a Muslim woman was allegedly discriminated against and denied opportunity for wearing hijab.
“In October 2016, a Muslim woman applied for a job in a government hospital as a radiographer and was shortlisted for an interview.
“On the day of the interview she was told to her face; ‘why are you dressed like this? I cannot Interview you.’ by the Chief Medical Director, who happened to head the interview panel.
She waited for a while and even tried to plead, while other candidates were given the opportunity to be interviewed for the job.” she recalled.
“The security man was then called to escort her out of the premises! Dear fellow Nigerians, this is a hospital owned by the government! And this is a citizen of Nigeria!” she recalled.”