School inspectors will speak to primary school girls wearing hijabs to ascertain why they are covering their hair, amidst concerns children as young as four are being forced to wear the garment by schools or their parents to protect their ‘modesty’.
The announcement comes Sunday from chief inspector of schools, Amanda Spielman, and responses will be recorded in the schools’ inspectorate Ofsted reports for the first time, reports The Times.
Earlier this year, it was revealed that almost one in five primary schools surveyed list the Islamic headscarf as part of their uniform policy, with girls as young as four being ‘forced‘ to wear a hijab to school.
Spielman is to say that forcing girls to wear the Muslim headscarf could be seen as sexualising children as the hijab is supposedly worn from the onset of puberty.
“In seeking to address these concerns, inspectors will talk to girls who wear such garments to ascertain why they do so in the school,” says Spielman.
Schools could also be in breach of equality laws if girls are required to wear religious clothing but boys are not.
… which begs the question, why a Catholic school if you're going to argue with the dress code? https://t.co/lgAOHyY3gz
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) January 24, 2017
The measures come after the chief inspector met with Muslim feminists and secular campaigners who have called for a hijab ban in taxpayer-funded primary schools, with signatories to a letter in The Sunday Times accusing the UK of having “an abysmal record” of protecting Muslim girls “who suffer under the pretext of protecting religious freedoms”, criticising the country’s responses to “so-called sensitive issues such as female genital mutilation and forced marriages”.
Aisha Ali-Khan, a Muslim feminist campaigner and a teacher for 13 years, told MailOnline: “Our government has allowed this to be part of the school policy and that’s wrong. They are allowing decisions to be made by schools and local authorities which is worrying and they are trying to wash their hands of all responsibility.”
Hijab Girl in Children’s Book Slammed for ‘Sexualising Four-Year-Olds’https://t.co/DCHKqFk0jS
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) August 14, 2017
Gina Khan, a children’s rights campaigner in Birmingham, added: “Schools are allowing it because they are afraid of being called Islamophobic and they have been told that this is a religious garment – but they need to support Muslim girls to have free choices, not to be set apart from other children.”
However, Church of England Bishop of Bradford Toby Howarth, whose church-run schools in the area permit the hijab, said: “Banning the hijab would be counter-productive in Bradford. It would be telling parents we know better than them what their children should wear.”
In July, Breitbart London reported that the taxpayer-funded, Islamic Al-Hijrah School in Birmingham had to be taken over by the government after books promoting domestic violence and marital rape were found in the institution’s library. The Ofsted report also identified bullying and criticised the school’s policy of segregating boys and girls, with a court finding the school guilty of sex discrimination in October.