By Olaolu Oladipo, Lagos
A coalition of Muslim women groups, the Hijab Rights Advocacy Initiative has lamented perceived frequent discrimination and harassment of women over the use of Hijab.
At a press conference in Lagos on Wednesday, the groups through its coordinator, Hajia Mutiat Orolu-Balogun stated that some government and private agencies in the country are also involved in this discriminatory act which she described as an infringement of their constitutional rights.
Orolu-Balogun said most women in Hijab had been denied jobs and other opportunities, even when they are qualified for such jobs and opportunities.
She explained that women in Hijab are also forced to expose their ears as well as their heads before writing Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examinations or getting Bank Verification Number, BVN.
She described hijab as religious duty and an obligation on every Muslim woman in the observance of her faith, saying that hijab is not culture of Arabs or a fashion accessory that one may discard at will.
“And this right to believe in and practise one’s chosen faith is an inalienable right of every human being, as entrenched in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended),”she added.
Lamenting stories of women, who were allegedly discriminated against and denied several opportunities for wearing hijab, even when they are qualified for such opportunities.
On what Muslim women face in the course of practicing their religion, she said, “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.
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!”
Also speaking, Hajia Hafsah Badru, appealed to the media to demonstrate objectivity, fairness and accuracy in reporting cases related to use of hijab and not to label women in Hijab as evil.