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Muslim children and dress at school

(240 Posts)
arinita Mon 03-Oct-11 16:00:35

I volunteered on Friday at my child's school (about 50% Muslim) and actually got quite upset at how restrictive the clothes were that a lot of the girl children were sent to school dressed in. It was a really hot day and most of the Muslim girls had on a really tight headscarf, covering their chin and most of their forehead and long sleeves. About half of them also had a long shift thing that came to the floor. They looked hot and uncomfortable and weren't able to join in the other children's games as they couldn't run/climb in the clothes they had on. I asked the class teacher and she said that they couldn't enforce the uniform policy if there were religious objections. Is this true? Can't they insist on health and safety grounds? Some of these little kids just looked miserable as they were so hot and the one who was trying to climb the spiders web and kept getting caught up in her long robe about broke my heart. Is there a real religious why under 10yr old children have to be covered at all times? It seems so unfair and horrible for the children. And sexist.

worraliberty Mon 03-Oct-11 16:05:10

Well firstly, I expect they are used to wearing those clothes and it's probably no hotter than being forced to wear a blazer...which most children are.

Secondly, if it was a H&S issue then yes the school could ban its pupils from wearing certain things.

But the dress you describe is no more a H&S issue than another type of clothing worn to school.

I fail to see who kids can't run or climb safely in that sort of dress as long as they have the correct footwear.

GypsyMoth Mon 03-Oct-11 16:06:05

Why just under 10's?

Riveninabingle Mon 03-Oct-11 16:07:24

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

EricNorthmansMistress Mon 03-Oct-11 16:07:24

1) hijab can be uncomfortable at first, but every woman I know who wears one says you don't notice it after a few days. I expect it's the same for children.
2) Long robes are no different to long skirts.
3) No there isn't any theological reason for pre-pubescent girls to be covered, but some cultures impose it anyway. Not every muslim culture does.
4) Islamic dress is restrictive by its nature. It's misguided, IMO, to extend the requirements to children, but they are likely to grow up into those expectations anyway so I don't see it as a huge tragedy
5) not every child likes running and climbing. I really didn't.

ScarletLady01 Mon 03-Oct-11 16:07:33

People wear full body covering clothing (for want of a better phrase) in much hotter countries than here to help them stay cool, so I doubt it would have made them any more uncomfortably hot than any other clothing

AFuckingKnackeredWoman Mon 03-Oct-11 16:09:22

When my son was at nursery it was requested that all the kids wore long sleeves if possible so there was less to put sun cream on.

StillSquiffy Mon 03-Oct-11 16:11:25

Do you not imagine it is hot in Africa and the Middle East?

Regardless of how strong the grounds are for such dress, it is a decision that their parents have made on religious/cultural grounds, and any reasonably tolerant person would respect that, rather than pull on their judgy pants.

When you start going on about it being unfair and horrible for them you do come across as rather racist.

Pendeen Mon 03-Oct-11 16:13:28


It sounds daft for parents to force their children to wear such unsuitable clothes.

Poogles Mon 03-Oct-11 16:26:47

Sometimes wearing a long dress in hot weather can be cooling (how many people were wearing maxi dresses over the weekend?).

I disagree that OP comes across as racist. I felt it was more a lack of information and understanding.

I'm always confused by parents who insist on putting socks on children with sandals/crocs!

GrimmaTheNome Mon 03-Oct-11 16:27:29

>5) not every child likes running and climbing. I really didn't.
the child the OP mentioned in the 'spider web' clearly did.

A lot of Muslim families manage a sensible compromise for little girls - eg shalwar kameez type clothes which aren't restrictive. Or at DDs primary, the simple adaptation of the summer uniform (standard blue striped m&S dress) by adding some white tights or thin leggings instead of socks.

cantspel Mon 03-Oct-11 16:31:43

MN is a funny old place. Hundreds of threads judging parent who allow their children to wear short skirts, t shirts with slogans, makeup, heels but we are not allowed to possibly judge a muslim who covers a primary school child.

There is no regigious reason why a muslim child should be covered so why cant they just wear the school uniform like everyone else?

pearlym Mon 03-Oct-11 16:37:32

why is she racist to have these views or make these comments?

lesley33 Mon 03-Oct-11 16:46:43

There is a religious reason once they reach puberty. And girls are reaching puberty at younger and younger ages.

Although some families want the girls to wear "modest" clothing like this before puberty.

I agree with you - it does look very hot. I think it is true that wearing something that covers your body if it is hot can keep you cooler - but only if the clothing is of lightweight material. So saris can be cooler than wearing a short skirt for example. But I think you are talking about an abaya - a robe - that isn't lightweight and looks hot to wear.

MarginallyNarkyPuffin Mon 03-Oct-11 16:48:53

It is sexist.

minipie Mon 03-Oct-11 16:50:24

YANBU. It is unsuitable and uncomfortable clothing for an active child in hot weather. Whether or not there is a religious reason for it.

Tryharder Mon 03-Oct-11 16:54:55

YANBU. There is no reason on earth why pre-pubescent children should be forced to cover up.

maypole1 Mon 03-Oct-11 16:56:11

So sad really these parents will get a sharp shock when their children enter the work place after All thats what we are all working for

My oh is a nurse a trainee tried to come on the ward with almost all of her face covered and the black shift over her uniform

She was sent off the ward and told not to come back until she was wearing the correct uniform her uni was emailed
The Muslim nurses and doctors are allowed to wear a plain head scarf that only covers the hair but even that resricts them to some types of nursing as reems of black fabric is not hygienic or elese the nhs would have adopted this themselves

Or when we all remember the teacher who wanted to wear the hijab with just eyes showing whilst teaching

Sadly the employable women and the ones who are willing to give a little

Very sad the children go trough school and uni be allowed to dress in this man nor only to be shocked when entering the work place that they have to follow the rules and rightly so

maypole1 Mon 03-Oct-11 16:58:36

lesley33 I would hardly call a long sleeve shirt, blazer and trousers immodest which is what every pupil must wear at my sons school

Again I think this is human rights gone a little far I would understand if the school were making these girls wear something sluty but most uniform can be made a covering as you like

metalelephant Mon 03-Oct-11 17:00:42

What I find upsetting is that their little brothers will be wearing exactly what non muslim boys would - it's the girls and women that have to be covered up. I personally find it twisted that a small child needs to dress "modestly".

RitaMorgan Mon 03-Oct-11 17:00:59

YANBU. I really hate seeing toddler girls in "modest" dress and headscarves too when they should be dressed practically for running about and playing.

But then I also hate seeing toddlers in restrictive fashion outfits, babies in stiff jeans etc.

TheLadyEvenstar Mon 03-Oct-11 17:01:43

I don't think the OP comes across as rascist.

In DS2's school there is a policy of NO headwear unless it is the school hat - baseball cap in summer wooly, hat in winter and NO headwear in classrooms.

Ok fair enough most adhere to this rule HOWEVER (and ths has been an issue for me since DS1 was a pupil there) the muslim girls wear their scarves in an array of colours. Personally I think they should be made to wear the school colours at the very least.

MoreCrackThanHarlem Mon 03-Oct-11 17:02:13


'Regardless of how strong the grounds are for such dress, it is a decision that their parents have made on religious/cultural grounds, and any reasonably tolerant person would respect that, rather than pull on their judgy pants.'

I am not racist. I do not, however, have to show respect and tolerance for sexist and unfair cultural practices.
There is no reason why small children should have to cover their entire bodies, for modesty or religious reasons. It is sexist and oppressive.

troisgarcons Mon 03-Oct-11 17:02:35

Hasidic Jewish women cover hair also. Long sleeves, long skirts, neckline must be on the collar bone.

There are a lot of faiths that practice modesty.

lesley33 Mon 03-Oct-11 17:03:10

sorry maypole I wouldn't call them immodest either - thats why I put modest in quotation marks. But parents who want their kids to wear an abaya will want it worn for modesty reasons. The reason to wear the abaya is so that the shape of your body is hidden i.e. you can't see waist, hips, braests.

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