100 Responses to Ofsted Hijab Quizzing

Below is a collation of over 100 responses received by the MCB from Muslim women concerned about the latest announcement by Ofsted Chief, Amanda Spielman, to have inspectors ‘quiz’ young girls wearing the hijab to find out why they wear it:

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Ameena, Student, Neasden, London

Islam is a religion of modesty, in the way we talk, dress, interact, hold ourselves etc. We wear the headscarf only as part of retaining that modesty. It is a sign of our faith; that we submit to God, and to call this ‘sexualising of young girls’ is outrageous and disrespectful of our belief. To wear short skirts and crop tops is not seen as sexualising young girls but to cover yourself is? It seems like something bigger is at play.

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Bouchra Boudraa, Office Assistant, West End

Women wear the headscarf as part of Islam faith, they can quiz all they want as women and girls should be proud of wearing the headscarf.  School should not ban headscarf as it’s against a persons human rights to tell them how to dress, if that is the case then every religion should be targeted.  Ofsted need to look at young girls that are being sold on social media as adults for sex trafficking then girls in Islam wearing headscarves.

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Farnaz Nadeem, Walthamstow

I believe young girls in primary schools even young as 4 years old, have a tendency to copy their mum, elder sisters or just see other friends wearing the hijab. Girls at this age normally like to copy people they like, the way they would if someone wear a jewellery or shoes, its like a trend. I believe it is a normal behaviour of a young child who like to wear hijab. They can take it off anytime, there is no restrictions and due to this freedom is why children keep putting hijab back on.

Ofsted I undersrand is an organisation that inspects schools regarding teaching and learning and they also look at safeguarding too. With media giving wrong interpretation of islam, i feel Ofsted is being sucked in the propaganda. I am aware they have to protect children welfare, however they are not putting this in context. Most parents including myself want their daughters to wear hijab but at certain age, as parents we struggle when it is the right time, without making child feel we are hindering their personality. Ofsted need to realise the difference when a child not taking part in school activities…it does not mean it because she is wearing a hijab! It could be numerous of reasons I.e. not liking the activity, timings, circumstances at home changes so a cannot accommodate etc.

Further, I don’t think school, should feel they have to ban headscarf in primary schools.  Each school should have the freedom to decide if or not to allow children wear hijabs. I believe it does not impact their learning nor its a safeguarding issue, if a child look happy wearing it and its not hindering her everyday life then there should be no reason for concern.

I was flabbergasted when I first heard about a senior officer in Ofsted claiming ‘could be interpreted as sexualisation of young girls’. To me it’s clear she made a big assumption, possibly receiving information from media and treating it as a reliable source to make that statement. As well as from some concerned staff, working in school, who may have said girls who wear headscarf have suddenly stopped doing certain activitiy. However, it is clear she did not go to a learned person from a mosque or MCB itself, to find out why hijab is important in Islam and in people’s lives.

I pray you find clarity in why hijab is important in Islam. And why young children enjoy wearing it. I pray you find a good person to guide you.

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Fatemeh Hosseini, Architect, Edinburgh

I think the singling out of young Muslim girls by Ofsted and quizzing them is really invasive and inappropriate. Young Muslims are already aware of being portrayed as ‘the other’ in the media and this will further deepen the divide and make them feel targeted. A school should have no right to separate a group of children and question them for wearing a religious garment. I think the claim that hijab could be interpreted as sexualisation of young girls is disgusting and perverted.

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Fouzia Mahmood, Administrator, New Malden, Surrey

From as early as 8 weeks’ children are able to imitate, this is usually an infant imitating their parents and generally speaking regardless of what culture, religion or belief system except a few, the mother takes a slightly greater role in the care of a child. Now if this mother happens to be a Muslim woman who has decided to wear a headscarf for her own personal beliefs, the imitation of the daughter is now unfortunately being questioned unlike any other mother or family which falls into a category of a different faith or community. I am a mother of 2, I have a 4-year-old son and a 2-year-old daughter. My son has insisted many times to try on a headscarf so he can see what it feels like and more importantly to copy his mother or maybe Batman – which of course I had no problem with whatsoever as that it’s a child’s nature to show curiosity and mimic others- I mean if it’s good enough for Batman then who am I to say. At as young as 4 or 2 and probably even 10 or 11 a child doesn’t understand what a headscarf represents or why many women from religious faiths decide to wear it, he or she doesn’t associate it as a symbol of sexualisation. Just the way I used to do when I was young, I would occasionally wear it, try it on. There was never any compulsion on it, I wasn’t from a religious family, my mother wore it occasionally for cultural reasons and I showed interest, at that point it was never anything to with sexualisation and as a grown adult now it still isn’t. For me now and I’m sure many women who choose to wear the headscarf would say it is a sign of feeling modest, a symbol, and most importantly – it really comes in handy when you’re having a bad hair day- literally.

I think if inspectors begin to question why young girls decide to wear the headscarf, one they will probably say ‘I don’t know’ as children don’t even realise what they are doing or something similar to what I’ve said relating to imitation. Secondly, two it will make children that they are different, almost out casted and not expected; that they aren’t like their friends and surely to plant that into a child’s mind is worse, it’s almost segregating a child from their own community which they are safe in – their school.

Banning a child from choosing how they dress is taking away their free will, they will not understand why it’s okay for some people to dress the way they like but it is not okay for others and it worries me it will create a barrier within our society, and could potentially show we in Britain in the 21st century are not accepting of diversity.

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Hafsa, Young mother, Sheffield

Young girls wear the headscarf a symbol of submission to God. A symbol of piety and modesty. Islam does not require a girl to wear the hijab until she attains the age of puberty however some girls choose to wear it before because they would like to practice wearing it. They may also choose to wear it because their older sisters/mother/aunties wear it and because they look up to them. Just as many young girls have an interest in makeup or dressing in a particular way because of their family members and role models that they look up to.

Why should Ofsted of all boards interview these young girls? Would it not be better that teachers have a chat with parents if they have reason to believe a young girl is observing the hijab against her will? Schools should absolutely not ban young children from wearing a headscarf. It is an expression of their religious beliefs.

The claim by Ofsted that hijab “could be interpreted as sexualisation of young girls” is the most ridiculous statement. Wearing a long skirt as opposed to a mini skirt may be deemed as more modest by some. My high school wouldn’t allow a mini skirt higher than the knees. Is that sexualization of a child? A hijab is just what some people deem to be appropriate modest wear just as my teachers deemed knee length skirts to be.

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Hajera Begum, Consultant, London

As a young girl, I wanted to be like my favourite person – my mum. So I wore the hijab. Now I wear the hijab for other reasons – a visible reminder of my love for my God and my faith. It is completely inappropriate for Ofsted or schools to question young girls on a part of their identity or worse still ban them! In a world where muslims are already vilified, it further others these girls. Their outfit has no part to play in their ability to learn. The view that a hijab is sexualising is a misogynistic misunderstanding. It is time we stopped worrying about women choose to wear and start worrying about the patriarchal world they are having to live in.

 

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Hanna Ahmed, Wyke/Bradford

Some girls wear headscarves for religious purposes and it’s not right that ofsted are quizzing girls with headscarves because it doesn’t affect their education and they shouldn’t be targeted. If ofsted are quizzing people it should be everyone and they shouldn’t discriminate. I believe that schools should not ban hijabs because it directly suppresses their native belief systems i.e religion and culture. The child may then start to question their identity as they believe that they should wear the hijab and schools are telling them to take it off. It also creates a stigma around Muslim’s and the hijab.

 

 

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Heena Khaled, Program Associate in Human Rights organization, Walthamstow

There are many reasons why young girls wear the hijab, while a minority are coerced by parents, many young girls from all backgrounds enjoy dressing up and are attempting to grow early, so when young Muslim girls see the elders in their circle wearing a hijab they feel to imitate. My niece wore it briefly and took it off too. Many parents don’t take their decision seriously as it’s not something that will shape them. As my younger self, I always wanted to be 10 years older and used to copy my elder sisters. I have also been told of an account about one young girl who wore a headscarf at the age of 8 when she lost her parent and she wore it as part of her healing process, however that was her own decision and personal to her. Many young girls have their own journeys and we mustn’t sell their level of intellect so short in the age of social media.

The premise of quizzing young girls as to why they wear hijab will already place trauma upon young girls and make them feel psychologically criminalized and fearful of practicing something they may have a deep conviction or not so much about. It is a form of control, which is contrary to what the campaigners for this movement claimed to ask for- an form of ‘liberation’. The coercion/control will move from the parent in some circumstances, now to the state. There is also an inequality issue here; what message are we sending to young Muslim girls who will be ‘quizzed’ about their headscarf and see their fellow Sikh or Jewish students allowed to continue wearing their religious symbols. It may also be a form of misogyny practiced by the state where a woman’s headscarf is controlled while a man’s religious outer manifestation is allowed

The other concern is around the questions young girls will be asked and there has also been indication by Spielman that questions related to the context of ‘extremism’ will also be pursued. So is the headscarf now an official measuring stick for an ‘extremist’ girl?

Finally it is important to recognize that children need to have the freedom to grow up learning about themselves through their own experiences. In a country progressing to allow gender fluidity and for kids to recognize their own gender as they grow up, quizzing young Muslim girl’s about why they are wearing the headscarf is contrary to that progress. Or is the rule one for others and another for Muslims? The notion of this idea edges onto not only discrimination under equality law, but is also enshrined by islamophobic narratives and we are edging towards becoming the next France.

If a school has a blanket uniform policy banning religious items then yes, they can ban young children wearing a headscarf. However schools should measure the reason for or against, contextually and in a nuanced manner with parental consent and consultation. If a child is not allowed to wear the headscarf then it is the right for the parent or guardian to remove their child from that school. If there was a case where a young girl was being forced to wear it and didn’t want to, then there are safeguarding measures available at present where these questions can be raised with individuals, however making blanket policies for one group of young women in the name of liberating them, is counterproductive to their ‘liberation’ and is in fact a form of oppression disallowing young girl’s to discover themselves and their experiences.

The claim by Ofsted that hijab “could be interpreted as sexualisation of young girls” is an unfounded claim as there is no evidence to suggest so. In fact if the claim is that a young girl in a hijab is becoming sexualized then the same rule would apply to an older woman in hijab then already sexualized naturally, which I as a Muslim woman who wears the headscarf do not identify with and I don’t appreciate others speaking on my behalf with unfounded judgments. Muslim women are not sexualizing themselves by wearing the hijab, quite the contrary and we must not impose western imperial attitudes upon women, because a woman’s identity is not universal. If we begin to shape all women into one box of expectations, then our policies are a reflection of patriarchal structures and not fighters against it.

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Jessica Faria, University Student

I am writing in response to Ofsted quizzing young girls who wear the hijab and as a Muslim woman I would like to add my opinion on this matter.

My name is Jessica Faria and I am currently a student At Kings College London. I believe that some girls wear the hijab as they feel more connected to their religion and also more liberated as individuals who can express their identities. My view on Ofsted inspectors quizzing young girls who wear a headscarf is discriminating them amongst the rest of the groups of people, be it religious or cultural. This may make girls who wear the hijab feel this is a negative thing and may make them stop wearing hijabs as they are targeted. I believe that any student of any religion should be able to freely express their identity in the way they dress, thus there shouldn’t be a ban on young girls wearing the hijab as it removes aspects of their identity.

I think the claim made by Ofsted that the hijab “could be interpreted as sexualisation of young girls”? is extremely demeaning of our young girls and is offensive to Islamic practices as the hijab is worn by choice and most often because women feel the hijab represents their modesty.

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Kosar Pedram, Hospital Pharmacist, London

Ofsted need to be reminded of the definition of Fascism: “Fascism is a way of ruling that advocates total control of the people.  In fascism, the people are looked at as a bundle — one body that must be controlled by the government with absolute force”.

Targetting young Muslim girls in this manner by Ofsted is discriminatory. Wearing the headscarf is a way of showing ones identity. Even if families encourage their daughters to dress modestly/wear the head scarf, where is the evidence to show this is associated with potential sexualisation of girls?Many school uniforms consist of short skirts for girls. Why is covering “more” a sign of sexualisation but not the reverse? Modest dress code is encouraged by many religions. Why is Ofsted singling out Muslim girls and where do you draw the line between personal choice and governmental control? To extrapolate Ofsted’s approach, piercing your daughter’s ears is sexualisation of girls? Instead of focusing on real issues of social inequality, bullying and mental health, Ofsted decides to put even more pressure on Muslim girls- This is appalling.

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Kousar Javaid, Advocacy Worker, Edinburgh

Ofsted, Amanda Speilman’s claim that headscarf can be interpreted as sexualisation of young children is absolutely ludicrous, offensive and disrespectful. Why is their so much focus on a minority of a minority who wear the headscarf. Young children enjoy wearing and doing things that are the norm in their families. For Ofsted, to single out Muslim children-it’s adding fuel to an already Islamophobic society that its’ ok to be discriminative and to treat Muslims as second class citizens. It is unacceptable to put this pressure on children having to explain their wearing of a headscarf. It causes mistrust between parents and schools and institutions; it undermines parents’ choice in the bringing up their children. Has the Ofsted never noticed the mini skirts that barely hide girl’s underwear in high schools and why has that never been labelled as ‘sexualisation’ of young girls? Have these girls ever been interviewed?

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Rakhee Majithia, Graduate in Law, Midlands

My name is Rakhee majithia I am a convert to Islam. I have been a Muslim for over 10 years now. I live in the Midlands and I am a graduate in law. I have a 14 year old daughter. I believe the head scarf or hijab, covering of certain parts of the body is our right as Muslim’s. It has been revealed in the Quran that we should do so, and also this was the example given to us by the prophet mohameds wives or women in Islam e.g khadija who was a successful business women.

We feel free and independent from sexualisation due to wearing the hijab and dressing modestly. Before Islam I use to think I’m free to wear short skirts bikini’s it’s a free world but in reality I was miserable always trying to put on make up, dress to keep up with fashion and be revealing my body to the public which only bought about negative attention.

I feel liberated after wearing hijab. I don’t have to conform too pretence or show my body to everyone. I feel blessed that I am a Muslim and no one forces me to wear it I’m not married so my husband isn’t forcing me. My daughter if she would like to wear it then I would be very proud of her as she is doing an act of worship by wearing it, as obeying the commend of Allah and being obedient to him is a part of being Muslim.

I feel being in hijab shows our identity, there is so much negativity towards Islam, let us and our children be in hijab and set a good example in schools and the community so when we do something good the non Muslim’s can say ‘oh yeh that girl in school the Muslim one helped me today.’

There is no compulsion in lslam and most women and female children I know are not forced to wear it in fact the opposite they look up to the women who wear it and then decide for themselves to. In hijab we do not get negative or sexist comments made to us, if anything the inspectors should be questioning those schools who make young girls dress in mini skirts and question those girls about the skirts and sexualistaion. If we are living in a free society where sikhs are allowed to wear pag and turbans and have small daggars, Hindus are allowed to send their children with red dots on their foreheads, Christians can wear crucifixes around their necks if they wish too then why is it always the Muslim religion that has to answer? Quite simply if Muslim girls shouldn’t be allowed to wear headscarf in schools then all of the above should not be allowed either. Maybe the same question can be asked to sikh children who cover, is that to do with sexualisation also?

Hijab is a part of our religion and identity it liberates us, we don’t feel forced, sexualised or oppressed in fact I can’t wait to go shopping to pick out new ones with my friends and I’m sure that’s what these girls think too.

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Kubriya Binyamin, Housewife, Glasgow

Firstly I would like to point out that my daughters are 13 and 14 they chose to wear the headscarf even though they go to a girls school.

We live in a multicultural society and have rights regardless of being from the ethnic minority especially Muslim for my girls it is their identity a fashion statement freedom of choice and never forced upon them.

Everyone’s religious beliefs should be respected and valued I feel ofsted are discriminating against a small minority of Muslims extremely bias will they ban the turban next and I hope this helps put a stop towards this ideology of discriminating against Muslims.

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Lenas Al-Jumaily, Pharmacist, London

Hijab is more than just a head covering. When a girl chooses to wear the hijab, she is choosing to represent Islam. To behave with dignity, treat others with respect, uphold the highest mannerisms, and be a positive influence within society. She is also asking others to treat her with respect, look past her appearance and value her inner characteristics. For members of Ofsted to claim ‘the hijab can be interrupted as the sexualisation of young girls’ is outrageous and a clear reflection of their ignorance.

If Ofsted start singling out young Muslim girls, they are not only sending the message that these girls do not belong but are also teaching other students that it is ok to treat them differently and not accept them.

The school environment has a substantial influence on the development of our future society and should be a safe place where all children are given the opportunity to flourish. Banning the hijab from schools would only teach the next generation that it is ok to be intolerant and disrespectful towards people who share different views. Which will cause irreparable isolation and resentment.

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Lubaaba Al-Azami, Doctoral Researcher, Buckinghamshire

This policy targets Muslim girls only and is patently discriminatory. It implies the tired islamophobic rhetoric that Muslim girls lack agency and mind, are sexually repressed and their parents are not to be trusted. For an authority like OFSTED to espouse such views is troubling indeed. As a Muslim woman who wore the hijab in primary school and wear it now in adulthood, my attire has consistently been my choice. My childhood hijab was a choice to imitate my mother, feel grown up and express my identity – sentiments many a child will identify with. Neither was I prevented from wearing it; a child must be permitted to express their childhood. Being questioned by officials and teachers about my hijab would have been traumatic, especially at that young age. With the rise in Islamophobia, Muslim children are facing enough attacks on their identity without having formidable OFSTED officials contributing.

A sweeping controversial policy such as this, which targets a specific religious and gender based group, requires empirical studies, broad ranging consultations and community engagement to justify. This is particularly true for a community that counts among its adherents millions from an exceptionally broad ethnic, cultural, linguistic and class range. What empirical evidence has shown that this policy is necessary? What broad ranging consultations with communities has led to this conclusion? OFSTED should have at least consulted with Britain’s largest representative Muslim group, the Muslim Council of Britain, but they have not. This then makes clear that the policy is less about facts than fears and the imposition of certain views and values against others.

Value based judgements are in their nature subjective. For Chief Inspector Amanda Spielman, a Kensington born, Cambridge educated, middle class white lady in a position of authority, to impose her own perspective of correct values upon an ethnic minority faith group from which she is wholly removed and which includes the poorest and most disempowered communities in Britain, is to behave in a discriminatory and imposing manner on a religious, racial and class level. Indeed, Ms Spielman went so far as to claim the hijab is a mode of sexualising women and girls, in a display of her misunderstanding of the matter. Rather, the hijab, like prayer, is an act of faith that Muslim women do in observance of God’s guidance. Perhaps if at least one member of the OFSTED board were from a BAME background, they would have thought more critically about this policy. Unfortunately, OFSTED’s board of governors are a reflection of the lack of diversity within the British work place, especially in positions of leadership. This troubling policy is a reminder of why such diversity is so crucial.

There are challenges faced by Muslim children in schools that require urgent attention, yet we have not seen any indication of serious activity from OFSTED. Islamophobia has seen a sharp rise in Britain in recent years with Muslim children facing increased levels of verbal and physical bullying in schools. After education, Muslim women are the most disadvantaged group in Britain’s labour market, despite being more educated than the general population, having high career aspirations and drive, being flexible about place of work and having broad family support. Hijab wearing Muslim women face particular disadvantage due to the discrimination faced regarding their appearance when seeking work.

What is clear is that the hijab can hold a Muslim girl back – not because she is made to wear it, but because of the ignorance and discrimination she faces from those who do not understand it. Misunderstandings of Muslims and their faith feed a culture of discrimination and abuse from the playground to the workplace. If the welfare of Muslim girls is the concern, what has OFSTED done about these actual issues of safeguarding?

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Madiha Raza, Aid Worker, Northwood

The topic of “young girls” wearing a headscarf I would say, depends on how young the girl is. Islam dictates that a girl should start to observe hijab at the age she is “baaligh” ie the age of 9. This is in order to protect her modesty and in my opinion allows her to form her personality without the pressures of society dictating how she should dress and look. I don’t agree that girls as young as 4/5/6 should be wearing a headscarf unless they’re going to a place of worship or a religious gathering and even then only if they choose to do so themselves. What is important to note here is, there is no compulsion in religion (The Holy Quran) so in my opinion, both banning the hijab as well as forcing a female to observe it goes against both religious and human rights.

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Malika Shahid, Mathematics Teacher at a Secondary School

I wear scarf and stand proudly in my classroom in front of mainstream white teenagers.

Strongley disagree that scarf is ‘sexulaisation’…. what about two piece bikinis for one year olds!? In comparison what is worse? Mini skirts for teenage or primary aged girls encouraging sexual predators or head scarves.

It’s parents who should be questioned for the choice not children.  It’s a bit like why does your mum makes you eat vegetables? Because they’re good for you but no child wants to eat vegetables or would know it’s benefits.

Scarf is same… We make choices for our children because children don’t know any better. So question us not children.

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Manal, London

I do not think it’s anybody’s right to criticise a girl’s piece of clothing. Although I don’t think girls as young as 5 should wear it, I need to say that my daughter really really wanted to wear it at age 5, because she loved to imitate me and saw me putting it on every time before I left the house. I only forbade her to do so, because I knew people would criticise me and asking me why I make her wear it at such a young age, Muslims even more than non-Muslims unfortunately. She begged me again and again to wear it. At age 8 I gave in, because I knew if I would not allow her now, she would not be interested in wearing it later. I would have been the one who banned her from it, and when I would want her to wear it, she would say: but I wanted to do it and you did not allow me earlier on. I actually know a few people who were exactly in that situation and now they regret having banned them from wearing it when the girls themselves found themselves comfortable in doing so and felt the time was right.

I honestly think we should be very careful in what we allow and what we don’t.

Of course, girls are influenced by their mums, not only when it comes to hijab, but even when it comes to any type of clothing or anything else in life. Those who have a daughter and had to attend a wedding for instance, where she should wear a dress but would not want to, will know what I mean.

We sometimes makes them eat something they dislike at first, or make them jump in the trampoline park when they are scared. As a parent you constantly influence your child. Your mere being and appearance influences your child. This is human nature.

Now what about the girl who wears a mini skirt at school. Is her mum forcing her to do so, or does she just copy her mum? Or maybe she just likes it?

This whole issue of quizzing the girls is ridiculous!

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Maria Wasty, South Manchester

I am a proud hijab-wearing British-Asian Muslim trainee doctor and a mother of 2 girls from South Manchester, who is making sure her children are being raised with a good sense of duty to country, society and God. The hijab is a part my identity, and it has more to do with my relationship and divine connection with God than my relativity to men and modesty. I encourage my children to deal with people with justice and kindness and speak the truth and in similar way I instill our religious values in them, as i firmly believe this is part of my parenting job.

Many young girls wear hijab for numerous and varied reasons- to emulate an older relative, to pray at the mosque, or just as part of their culture. I dont believe that hijab should be forced on a woman, let alone a child, but equally I believe that it should NOT be forced off, or hijab wearing girls made to feel ‘sexual’ or ‘sub-standard’ as well. The whole premise of assuming hijab to be part of sexualising younggirls is flawed- every day, every hour in entertainment and fashion industry women are made to take off more and more thereby sexualising the ‘dare to bare’- high street shops selling adult-like clothing (bare midriffs, lacey undergarments etc) for girls as young as 6-10 yrs is sexualising. Even if we assume for a moment hijab/head scarves are taking the naivety out of young girls, I dont see how banning headscarves in school is going to help those girls as school life is only one aspect of their lives. Also, I would like to see Ofsted take those parents into consultation whose girls do wear hijab to school, and understand their reasons and uphold British values of freedom of expression and freedom of religious rights, rather than just lend an ear to a small minority of people who certainly do not represent the majority of Muslims. In fact, taking these Muslim girls aside and quizzing them about their hijab is going to do exactly the opposite- it will make the girls feel less British, fear authorities, breed mistrust of establishment, and ironically make them question their equality to boys/men.

I hope the Ofsted will take the concerns of Muslim women seriously and think deep and hard about the consequences of their decision.

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Maria Alami, Grandmother, Reading-Berkshire

The term hijab denotes a principle of modesty in dress as well as behaviour and applies both to males and females. It is more than just covering the head as it involves an educational process of the person concerned and their understanding of why it is part of the religion.

On my part I do not see it as necessary for young girls under the age of puberty to wear a head covering because of the above but I think it is the right of the parents to make their decision.

Ofsted is meddling in parental rights and is concerning themselves with something that has no educational value. Better for them to turn their attention to real concerns; such as the poor literacy levels, increased bullying and sexual assault as well as schools having to beg funds from parents.

This is just another measure to marginalise Muslims and portray them as ‘other’.

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Maryam Ali, Student, London

Young girls wear the hijab for a number of reasons. I myself started to wear the hijab at 11 years old because my older sisters all did when starting high school so I followed this norm. In a way the hijab just felt like part of my school uniform. However, around the age of 15 I started to understand the wisdom behind the hijab, that fundamentally it is a commandment from God and provides me with a sense of identity and pride in my religion. I find it extremely insulting that Ofsted are unfairly targeting young girls about the hijab as this gives off the impression it is an action that should be questioned when in reality this is a completely personal choice. To make Muslim women feel inadequate or ostracised for practicing their right to religious expression, or ban girls from making this choice in schools, undermines British values it claims to uphold and protect. The claim that “the hijab could be interpreted as sexualisation of young girls” is offensive and nonsensical. The real sexualisation of young women in today’s society is the gross pressurisation to ‘break glass ceilings’ through uncovering more of one’s body.

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Maryam, Teacher, London

Ofsted should not be allowed to quiz young girls who wear the hijab, specifically not due to the reason that the hijab ‘could be interpreted as sexualisation of young girls.’ This questioning has been portrayed as a move forward in ‘liberating’ these young girls, however it is doing the opposite! Yes, women should be given the choice as to whether they wear the hijab or not, however singling out young girls who are wearing the hijab will make them feel like an ‘other’ in their schools, thus removing them of their choice. Many young girls wear the hijab as an expression if faith and identity, and singling them out will no longer give them this freedom of expression. It goes against the British values taught to young students in schools. Is it not hypocritical for Ofsted to ensure schools are teaching British values which include: liberty and respect and tolerance for those of different faiths, while they are not adopting them themselves?

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Munira Kaniz Chowdhury, Teaching Assistant, East London

Young Muslims wear headscarves as a part of their identity. The hijab has a rich history of empowering women and encouraging them to pursue goals in the academic, professional and personal fields, without women being subjected to oppressive systems which create the idea that the way we look is important. In such a sexualised society when women have many barriers to jump through already it would be sexist,  misogynistic and patriarchal to make a nation of young women doubt their identity by questioning them about their hijab. The claim that a hijab ‘sexualises’ young children is absurd and it is an idea perpetuated by people who do not understand hijab. The focus of Ofsted should be on improving the education system not using it to vet and alienate a community.

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Muniza Shah, CRM senior advisor, Walsall

Young girls wear the headscarf due to their religious beliefs or their upbringing from the parents. Ofsted’s proposal is horrendous, what has it got to do with them and what impact does it have to them that they are interfering? Young children should not ban young children from wearing a headscarf – it’s a preferred way for some people to teach their children the value of the headscarf. However the age should be 9+. Ofsted’s claim that hijab “could be interpreted as sexualisation of young girls” is ridiculous – they are trying to degrade the beliefs of Muslims however it is somewhat pointless to make a 5yr old wear a scarf when they don’t understand the value of it.

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Nadine El-Enany, Senior Lecturer in Law, Birkbeck School of Law, University of London

Muslim women who wear the hijab are already especially vulnerable to attack in a climate in which Islamophobia/anti-Muslim racism is pervasive. The message the Ofsted decision sends to Muslim women is that the way they choose to dress and the decisions they make in raising their children are subject to a level of scrutiny different to that applied to non-Muslim parents. The message is that they and their children are not deserving of equal treatment by the state and its agencies. The message is that the state deems harassment of Muslim women and children legitimate. The message is that they cannot trust the state and its agencies to treat them and their children fairly. The Ofsted decision reduces the hijab to a symbol of sexualisation and ignores other interpretations ranging from a display of faith to a symbol of empowerment and resistance. It ignores the fact that Muslim women and children wear the hijab for a variety of reasons. Further, constructing women who wear the hijab as being either sexualised or repressed is reductive of the hijab and Muslim women and racist in its reproduction of colonial and Orientalist tropes about them.

I am in awe of the strength and resilience of women and young girls in Britain, and in Europe and Northern states more widely, who wear the hijab in a climate that is growing increasingly hostile to displays of Muslim faith. They know much more than me about how to survive and excel in a context where they are at risk of abuse, violence, judgement and suspicion. Muslim women and children have a lot to say and teach others, if only people and the state would listen to them rather than constantly silencing them, speaking for them, and deciding what is best for them.

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Nafisa Seth, Co-Director, Leicester

Many young girls choose to wear the headscarf because they see their mothers and other role models wearing this garment, hence their admiration makes them excited to adopt the hijab (headscarf) as well. They see their favourite people wearing them and want to copy them. The hijab does not restrict them in any way.

There has been an increasing amount of scrutiny placed on the dress and status of Muslim women and we must learn to abolish this ignorance and live by real British values which include tolerance, freedom of religion and acceptance of all human beings. Everyone has a right to live how they feel is comfortable for themselves, so long as we don’t hurt anybody.

The hijab is not something new. Muslim women follow the example of righteous women in the past such as Mary, the mother of Jesus. It is not a means to restrict a woman’s freedom to express her views and opinion, or to have an education and a career. It is not an act of defiance, confrontation, protest to non-Muslims and most certainly not an interpretation of sexualisation as mentioned by Amanda Spielman.

It shocks and disheartens me to hear that Ofsted claim that hijab could be interpreted as a sexulisation of young girls! It is a ludicrous suggestion from an individual who should be better educated in the field of tolerance towards all individuals on the grounds of equality and diversity.

On the GOV.UK website – in the Ofsted section, under the sub heading ‘Our priorities’ it states ‘all of our work is evidence based’ but to my understanding, there has been no fairly conducted survey/research completed before such a policy was considered worthy of adopting. It is an absurd and appalling claim. I feel there are better, more meaningful productive matters Ofsted could be dealing with rather than create a non-beneficial programme to deal with something which is not even proven an issue of concern.

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Narges Marvasti, Youth S.Worker, Martial Arts Instructor and Freelance Designer, Watford / Harrow

There may be several reasons why young girls may wear a head scarf, they can be good or bad and yes in some extreme cases which is potentially irrelevant to the head scarf a child may need direct intervention (whatever faith or cultural background that may be). But just because I don’t believe in it (and I don’t for young girls or any girls not given choice at an age of maturity)… Does not mean I have the right to dictate, question or marginalise a culture or family value… Questioning what they see as normal as I dont consider it normal – because of my own unfounded or prejudiced understanding is not right. The mental wellbeing of the child at such a young age would not be safeguarded with this approach at all. After all it is only a piece of clothing. Sexualisation does not come from a piece of clothing, but with any ideas attached to it. Can a family tell their son or daughter not to wear revealing clothes? Does that also mean they are sexualising their child? … Can a parent teach safeguarding ‘no touch’  rules to young children to protect them against exploitation without sexualising? …I personally am seeing this as a  biased approach by Ofsted, an openly prejudiced and unequal/ culturally and religiously insensitive approach to safeguarding children. Children should be at the heart of protection and safeguarding and not any prejudice against a religious or cultural belief.

We should be upholding the values of safeguarding and protection in the best manner, by making extremely young and vulnerable children ultra aware of their cultural / faith  based clothing, ofsted could be directly destabilising a young Childs mind and this can lead to anxiety a feeling of marginalisation from a very young age, surely the safety and welfare of children should always be through a family centred approach (and only if proportional risk to health / wellbeing exists should any intervention take place directly with the child) … There needs to be huge studies and evidence based support for the actions of Ofsted which may lead to breaking rules of equality and marginalisation of young children (making them even more vulnerable). Of course if there are any worries they should be either direct intervention or on smaller levels through community and family support systems to insure the best results for children and their education, but this may have no necessary relevance to the head scarf, unless Ofsted are implying that it is a sign of abuse??

Anyways these are my honest thoughts having worked with children of different backgrounds, I sincerely hope greater attention and sensitivity is shown to actually safeguard and protect children from all backgrounds equally and without cultural/religious bias rather than profile them based on our own values.

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Narjis Khan, Lawyer, South London.

The claim that hijab is the ‘sexualisation’ of young girls is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the hijab and why girls of all ages choose to wear it. At its heart, it is an act of worship that is more to do with a female’s self-identity and agency, rather than how she may be perceived by the opposite sex, though the reasons women and young girls wear the hijab are numerous and multi-dimensional. Young girls may wear it because their role models do or because they are simply more comfortable wearing it. When young girls wear mini skirts or make up, for whatever reason, there is no claim that this is ‘sexualisation’ so why should the modest clothing of young girls, worn for whatever reason, be seen as ‘sexualisation’? The focus on Muslim girls and the misconstruing of their choices reflected in what they wear as somehow being imposed on them actually only takes away all agency from the girls and women who are meant to be at the centre of this discussion, and whose rights are meant to be protected. Furthermore, the disproportionate focus on Muslim girls and their attire is indicative of colonial attitudes and policies seeking to police the female Muslim body and mind. Interrogating young Muslim girls will only perpetuate a culture of ‘otherisation’, making those who do cover at a young age feel alien in their school communities which will have seriously detrimental consequences for their development.

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Naznin Chowdhury, Analyst (financial services / investment consulting) – City, Hackney, London

More and more women are embracing the head covering as it is a symbol of modesty and an integral part of our faith. It offers protection and in fact offers the solution my aunts, mothers, grandmothers did not get educated about in the late 60s onwards (hence endured harassment from the opposite gender). Growing up as an ethnic minority school girl, I read magazines and desired to look like models who were desired by the opposite gender. I look back now and think no, I want to be respected, spoken to because of my intelligence not based on my looks – the hijab is my solution. The hijab reminds me of my identity and having this taken away from me, is like taking my identity away. Hijab fits in well here, it’s a sign of freedom from sexualisation, equality  and human rights.

I have spoken to children as young as 5 who said they wear it so boys don’t touch them in an appropriate way – they feel safer. They want to look like their older sisters, aunts, mothers who they see as respectable women.

The hijab has taught me that we come in all shades of beautiful, my beauty is for me and I refuse to give into the societal norm of what looks good to please others. These days the pressure of looking good and advancement of technology is not helping young girls. But you see, hijab takes that away and allows you to focus on other things like faith, working on your character and doing good for society.

I am a concerned Muslim, British woman who is now scared to come home late no thanks to the anti-Muslim sentiment which is being bred by the far right in this country. Yes times have changed, feminism has progressed, however the desire to not get involved in what a woman should look and wear has not changed. Where are the feminists now?

I am absolutely disgusted by Ofsted quizzing young vulnerable girls, but I welcome them to ask young girls on why they embrace it.

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Pinkie Uddin, Speech and language therapist, Tower Hamlets, London

Hijab is a choice that is exercised by any female in the society, whether they are young or old. If the issue is that they are being forced to wear it then this would be evident in their behaviour and it would be tackled with accordingly. It is almost a disgrace that ofsted, a regulatory board for education, is now looking to somehow regulate outer garments, when in fact it should be treated no more than how a young girl wearing a skirt or shorts is treated. For a long time now society has deemed it necessary to make comments on what a girl wears, whether it’s a hijab or something revealing and time and time again we women have said, it is OUR choice what we wear. If ofsted are looking to find out more about the hijab they are welcome to in a respectful manner, however to take it upon themselves to specifically quiz young girls about the hijab can be seen as bullish and inappropriate. Ofsted claim that hijab can be seen as sexualisation of young girls seems pretty baseless, as anyone who is low enough to sexualise a young girl will sexualise them regardless of what they wear.

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Radiya Islam, Radiotherapy Radiographer, Barking

Girls wear headscarf because it is our identity and we take pride in it. It’s a symbol of your beautiful religion. Just the way we wave the flag of our country our headscarf is our waving flag.

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Roxanna, Healthcare Assistant, Southampton

I wear Hijab, it is one of the most important aspects of my identity as a Muslim. I would never take it off, it is my choice to wear it, not only to preserve my modesty but to fullfill the commands of my faith, it is my connection with my creator. I do NOT give any body the right to tell me what I can and cannot wear. It is my individual choice to choose how I dress, it is not offending or hurting anyone.

Children and adults should never be forced to wear a head scarf if they don’t want to. It is their choice and they should be allowed to make it, NOT ofsted. Wearing a head scarf is a part of Islam, however how Muslims choose to follow their religion is up to them, they only have to answer to their maker, not to you or me.

In a climate where females are faced with unmeasurable pressure to conform with society through the media, to look and dress in a certain way, we should give children the right to choose how they want to dress, if the feel happy, protected and secure in wearing hijab, then they should be allowed to do so. For anyone to deny them that right is to undo years of struggle faced by women to get freedom to be who they want to be. If women are allowed to work, marry who they want, inherit, divorce etc then how can they not be allowed to choose what they want to wear?

Children are faced with the most challenging of lives these days with the highest breakdown of family ever witnessed in history, most children do not have a family life, they face many kinds of challenges and abuses, instead of addressing these more important and pressing issues, ofsted is attacking Muslims through their children and what they wear.

Hijab gives children confidence, a sense of identity and belonging, strong faith and instead of building on that, ofsted is abusing its powers to do something so negative, cause more divisions and set women’s rights back to zero.

I question what is Ofsted’s purpose? Is it there to protect children’s education, to make sure they learn in a safe and clean environment, to get the best education they can from the best teachers and best facilities or is it to undress children? It is ok for a child as young as 4 or 6 to wear high heels and a bikini but not a headscarf? If that is not sexualisation then I don’t know what is. In a world where we know there are a huge number of sexual predators out there who are highly qualified professionals and not just some dirty old men in some dump, we should be doing everything we can to protect our children NOT undressing them for these predators to ogle.

Children are facing mental, physical, sexual abuse and many forms of bullying, instead of tackling these problems ofsted has chosen a soft target to not just get publicity but to direct the attention away from important and pressing issues that it cannot handle, it is failing in its role to protect children in so many areas. Instead of tackling bullying, discrimination in learning between different schools in different areas, instead of trying to help schools with their health and safety policies it is wasting time and money on what most People consider a non issue. Let people wear what they want, isn’t that what they teach in schools about freedom? Irony is lost on me!

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Rukaiya Bhanji, Senior Clinical Psychiatric Pharmacist, Birmingham

The headscarf is worn by women for various reasons, some of which include a display of modesty or upholding one’s religious identity. Several major religions stress upon the importance of modest clothing, such as Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and Sikhism. That being said, parents find it important to impart these values to their daughters by making them dress modestly from a young age. Ofsted’s proposal to quiz young girls wearing the headcarf is an absolute waste of time and resources to use Ofsted inspectors to quiz young girls wearing a headscarf. Furthermore, this is an act of direct discrimination, where only girls wearing a headscarf are targeted, and students wearing other forms of religious clothing such as the kippah or the turban are excluded.

Every citizen of the UK is entitled to ‘freedom of religion’ under the Human Rights Act 1998. That being said, a school has no right to ban young children from wearing the headscarf, as this is a direct violation of that right. There may be certain cases where wearing religious clothing such as a headscarf, kippah, or a turban may not be appropriate for health and safety reasons. However, an outright ban on the headscarf would go against the rights of the students.

The very definition of the word ‘sexualisation’ and ‘hijab’ are exact opposites. Sexualisation is to make something or someone sexual in character. This can be achieved by a person’s clothing or mannerisms. Hijab on the other hand aims to make people modest, by their clothing and mannerisms. The two words being on opposite ends of the spectrum shows how ridiculous Ofsted’s claim is.

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Rumana Akhtar Ahmed, Full time student, London

I come from a large family. I am the eldest of 5 siblings and have many younger female cousins and nieces. I have observed that young girls follow the examples we show them/set them.
Also hijab feels like a ‘rite of passage’ at times in the sense that there is a whole entire community that is in this practice with you. Nowadays, young people are smarter and better informed through a variety of channels like the Internet and mosques are improving their education and empowering of young girls, so I would also add that young girls understand the religious importance and so try to start this journey.

Making sure a child understands the meaning and purpose of hijab is good, however I do not believe that Ofsted are the correct authority to do so especially as they don’t seem to have a good track record in understanding Islamic values and practices.

There are so many other forms of religious expressions they should consider banning if they do ban hijab. Such as annual nativity plays, Eucharist, church visits to sing hymns. Banning hijab only teaches children intolerance. It also hurts the perspective that Muslim girls will have on wearing hijab in the future.

I don’t believe that this is a well informed interpretation of hijab at all. There has been a lot of talk surrounding women and their dress as well as their choice for dress. Hijab has been thrown into the mix at the opposite spectrum as it is a veil that covers a woman’s body. I think putting the ‘sexual’ connotation on hijab is an attempt to rein in this form of dress to impose a new standard on that is easier for people to control and get on with.

For so long there has been a fight with ‘revealing’ clothing and what it could incite (short skirts etc) hijab is the exact opposite. It is a way of liberating women and forcing people to focus on the essence of a person before anything else. But maybe this is not so for others who decide to see it as harmful.

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Safia Deriche, Carer, Kent

Part of our culture, faith and values, we never ask: « why a Sikh wears a turban? » or « why a Jew wears a cap », or « why an Atheist wears a mini skirt, lipstick, or stilettos? », no matter what their age is. Ofsted Inspectors are part of and at the core of PREVENT. There should never be a ban on what we choose to wear. When I was a child, I never objected to what my mother chose for me, because I adore my mother, may she rest in peace. PREVENT/Ofsted are biased, discriminating against Muslims and must be sued.

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Sahar Al-Faifi, Molecular Geneticist and anti-Islamophobia campaigner, Cardiff

Why do some young girls wear the headscarf?

Because it is observation of faith, act of worship and a mean to get closer to God. Both men and women should try to observe their faith and practice it as much as they can.

Very appalling and find it Islamophobic. Parents have the right to bring up their children the way they want until they become adults. When they become adults and this is a human right. Also, it is clearly Muslims are being singled out and targeted by it, since Jews and Sikh who put on the Kippa and the turban are not being questioned. Young Muslims are being disadvantaged and their faith, identity and loyalty are always unfairly questioned. Young girls find the hijab an expression of their identity as well as act of worship. How cruel it is to deprive parents from building a confident Muslim identity and deprive children from expressing it!

– Should a school ban young children from wearing a headscarf? No

– Claim by Ofsted that hijab “could be interpreted as sexualisation of young girls”?

Very colonial understanding yet not surprising. Men and women have to wear and act modestly for the sake of God.

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Saiqa Zafar, Watford, Office Manager

It’s a shame we as Muslims we feel the need to make our children so politically aware at such a young age. Question many of us are asking, why only target Muslim children? Why are no other children who visibly practise some religious requirements targeted? Jewish children with the kippa, Sikhs children with pagg, hindi/ hare krishnas with the Tilak (mark on forehead). I cannot stress enough, exclusively targeting young Muslims will lead to further division, breakdown of trust and alienation from a very young age. Muslim children are feeling vulnerable enough as it is! Who has approved this? Who will be present when questioning children? What questions will be asked?

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Sajeda Canani, Optometrist, Birmingham

The Ofsted claim that the wearing of the headscarf could be interpreted as sexualisation of a young girl is silly. The headscarf is a religious symbol that young girls choose to wear at an earlier age sometimes for various reasons of their choice with no obligation. To pick on a particular religious symbol at a time when the child is exploring their options will only create hate and discord amongst those being questioned and may further lead to bullying. I would rather Ofsted use their resources in enhancing our current education system encouraging creativity, unity and peace rather than fuelling hatred.

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Shaheena Patel, Housewife, Graduate BSc Hons Human Psychology, Preston.

I have been wearing my Hijab from a very early age, I would say since I was 10 years old. Then back in the 1990’s I cannot recollect hearing stories in the media about HIJAB . However since 9/11 every aspect of Islam has been dissected and Hijab has always been a hot topic of discussion.

Questioning any young girl about any piece of clothing in this current climate can be misinterpreted. Living in a Democracy and having the right of freedom of expression and interpretation depends on the individual. Whoever wants to claim that Hijab is a sexualisation of young girls then this is their view and opinion about hijab. As a muslim wearing  hijab I respect and appreciate that claim fully made by the individual or group. For a young girl who wants to wear  the hijab out of her free will if encouraged not too,would this not then be restricting her freedom of expression and opposing her free will. The hijab maybe worn as part of the school uniform, then this is part of that school’s rules and regulations and has to be adhered to. Just as in many private schools a tie has to be worn by one and all. Will a “tie “ hold the same concept of  being interpreted as the “sexualisation” of young girls who wear it. Wearing the hijab is largely a personal choice of many young girls and i assure you whoever wears a Hijab does so with their own will. We live in a world of “girl power” attitude even the younger girls know that they have their own voice and how to express their likes and dislikes.  Ofsted claiming that it could be interpreted as, ’sexualisation of young girls’  to me suggests that this is their particular opinion  and i can only fully respect that claim. Everyone has the right to have their opinion and this claim is theirs. As a Muslim who has been wearing Hijab for over 20 years, to me, its the most natural thing in the world without it i would feel most uncomfortable.I CLAIM my Hijab is my comfort and also my identification as to whom i am. Can you respect and appreciate my claim as  I do yours. Anything that girls and boys wear can be “interpreted”  as being “sexualised” to pin it down to one, especially Hijab, I believe is being unfair.

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Shahnaz Khan, Key stage 1 Phase Leader, Barking and Dagenham

I am a primary school teacher in Tower hamlets. I am very disappointed by the government’s decision to question young children wearing the hijab.

Muslim girls and women wear the hijab as a mark of modesty which completely contradict the idea of it being any form of sexualisation. How can  a hijab be a form of sexualisation when we have young girls dressed in mini-skirts and tank tops.

I feel it is up to the parents and the child to decide if they want to wear the hijab in school or not. It is their freedom of right to practise their religion. It is not right for schools to ban children from wearing the hijab.

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Shaima, Masters Student & English Tutor, London

The purpose that the hijab holds in Islam is that it symbolises the modesty and privacy of a woman. Living in supposedly a multicultural city; London – why should Ofsted question what a young girl may be choosing to wear? Would it be okay if an Ofsted inspector asked a young girl why she’s wearing a mini skirt? Schools shouldn’t ban hijabs in school. Doesn’t this go against the human freedom? Again, would you ask a Christian nun to remove her veil? No, you wouldn’t because in this day and age you’re targeting one religion. A school may have rules on what a child can wear but should also allow individuals to express themselves in any way they want; if that means they want to wear a hijab, they should be allowed.

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Sheila Nortley, Screenwriter, London

For many who understand that the purpose of the hijab is to reduce/avoid male attention and a lady’s choice to privatise that part of herself it may be baffling that primary school girls may wear it. “Is it their choice? Are they being forced?” we gasp in horror with the questions conjured by our own subconscious prejudices,  cultural biases and media conditioning. It’s as much their  choice as most seven year olds outfits are. They may pick what colour socks they wear but generally they’re going to wear socks, right? Same with hijab on children. It’s not a big deal. It’s another item of clothing. It’s part of their routine and a reflection of their parents (cultural or religious) lifestyle choices – again, as all kids clothing is selected for them until they buy their own clothes and dress themselves. This is London. Let people raise their kids how they want.

 

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Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan, Leeds UK, writer and poet:

Ofsted’s proposal is absolutely sinister and can in no way be interpreted as a concern for Muslim girls’ welfare. It is an extension of the apparatus already at work in the public service which works to demonise and Other Muslims due to seeing them as constantly and only suspicious. This move is flawed on so many bases and shows how suspicion of Muslim families as sites of danger and radicalisation is very directly impacting young people’s education and daily experiences, it only bodes to create further political grievance.

 

 

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Syeda Batool, University Student, Slough

A hijab is a religious expression Muslim girls choose to make. In the same way that it would be considered unethical for Ofsted to isolate individual groups and inquire about why they choose to hold a certain religious belief, question Muslim girls about why they choose to follow their beliefs by wearing the hijab is highly unprofessional and immoral. Therefore, the headscarf has absolutely no weighting on objectification of girls. There are no grounds for characterising it as a means of sexualisation of girls when it is a form of empowerment from such labels. In fact, Ofsted’s shameful interpretation of the hijab as sexualising raises the question as to why schools impose rules such as ‘no tailored trousers’ or ‘skirts must be below the knee’. Where do we then draw the line?

More importantly, a headscarf is not just a religions expression, it is a personal choice. Ofsted’s decision to quiz on this matter serves to interrogate into someone’s personal affair. In an academic context, this is extremely inappropriate and uncalled for.

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Tahira Sabri, Secondary Teacher, North Lanarkshire. Scotland

I personally wear the hijab as it’s my choice and it allows me to feel closer to my faith. My 15 year old niece started wearing it recently for the same reasons despite her older sister and cousins not wearing it. My grand daughter of 6 asked her Mum if she could wear it to school and likes to change the colours to suit her mood. For her it’s like a hair accessory. Why would I question it. If kids can get Mohawks they can get complete shaved head. Girls can wear crazy big assesories, girls as young as 9 are allowed to get belly button piercings and show off their Navals, which doesn’t seem to be sexualising them, then why is a head covering such an issue.  I think Ofsted’s proposal is ridiculous and offensive. Question the kids who have these piercings and revealing clothes, are their parents sexualising them by allowing them to dress like this? If kids are allowed to wear crop tops and extremely short skirts to school and it is perfectly acceptable as it’s fashion and not a form of sexualisation. Then I can’t understand what the problem is with a kid wanting to be more modest and in some cases preserve their childhood.

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Tania Salman , GP,  Solihull, Birmingham

Personally I think it’s a totally unreasonable thing to question young girls about their dress code.  As a country we claim to be the beacon of freedom of choice, if so then we have to accept that the freedom comes with great responsibility and it must all be balanced. Legally, the main factor around equality is to ensure that due a certain characteristic one isn’t discriminated against, so if we want Muslims to feel included in society shouldn’t we engage with identity rather than demonise them? The state in this country does not have the right to intervene on identity and expression.

We can’t really hang hijab on pre- pubescent on the faith hook because Islam does not require a child to wear hijab. However, each girl is different and a girl can come of age during primary school as young as 8. We believe that by this age a girl and even boys should be taught about modesty and adhere to certain dress codes- and it is for the parent to decide to how they teach that to their child. The question isn’t does Islam require the child to wear it ,the question is,is  it fair to legislate when and how a parent should teach the child their faith and how to adhere to it? Is it fair that provided a parent gives the child a balanced healthy happy home that parent is stopped from deciding what is appropriate for that child?

Also I can’t figure out at all,how they can link hijab with sexualisation?? What do they think about cheerleading where girls with scanty clothes are cheering boys team…they are fine with it but hijab and modest clothing perpetuates sexualisation…how???

Surely if nothing else, wearing hijab at primary school level allows kids of all backgrounds to learn early that people have different identities and different views which allows them to interact with the “other” without it being alien to them or having judgement of the other because they from a young age have seen the other and accept the other as the same!

We also need to address the connection being drawn between young girls wearing hijab and a link to extremism. There is NO evidence for this – bring it if they have it. But also, on the one hand quite a few people claim that Muslim girls/women are oppressed but on the other hand it is criminalising them as responsible for extremism, you can’t have it both ways . It seems that the emotive nature of the hijab debate about women is now being transposed onto girls. Muslim women feel like this is a soft target on Muslim identity.

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Umarah Al-Halim, A-level student, Isle of Dogs -London

Some girls wear a hijab because they follow traditional values that you need to cover up but the majority that I know of wear them for religious reasons and believe that it is their way to strengthen their imaan. I personally think it is not ok to be quizzing girls who wear hijab as everyone should be treated equally but it shouldn’t be about anything personal as it is a school environment. I definitely do not think schools should ban the headscarf, what harm has it done? It’s a simple piece of material on your head that holds a lot of meaning and value to many young women who are finding out their identity, schools banning it would go against their freedom of expression. Also the fact that it ‘could’ be interpreted in some way does not mean we should ban it, that does not make any sense we could say that about any form of clothing, and Ofsted claiming this just shows they’re not willing to understand reasons why young girls would want to wear a headscarf which is a shame.

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Umm Yusuf, Pharmacist, London

Most young girls want to copy their mums and aunties in wearing the hijab. They love it and feel like they are precious so don’t want to show their hair.

They can quiz them but I’m sure they will not find anything apart from what I’ve mentioned before. But however I feel upset that young girls are being targeted for wearing such a simple piece of clothing. Nowadays we see young girls wearing makeup and short shorts and mini skirts and less clothing but that’s not questioned because as always we are in a double standard society. Sometimes you look at these young girls and wonder when did this become appropriate where primary school girls look sexualised.

Should a school ban young children from wearing a headscarf? No! Why would they when it doesn’t affect a child’s mental ability or academic performances!!!!

Claim by Ofsted that hijab “could be interpreted as sexualisation of young girls”? Sexualisation in what way?!!! There is absolutely nothing related to the hijab which is insinuating girls be sexualised. They are covering up! Not becoming the next top model! What a complete and utter nonsensical statement!!!

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Wafaa Almoathin, Biology Teacher, London

The recent Ofsted decision, to quiz schoolgirls in hijab, has not only sparked a misunderstanding of hijab but also inevitably side lines young girls who choose to wear a headscarf.

The islamic covering for females is more than privatising sexuality, as Amanda Spielman, the Head of Ofsted, has put it. Hijab is about self respect, freedom and dignity. Most of the time, young girls choose to wear it as a form of imitating their role models, who they admire and aspire to be like. That does not mean that the Hijab is being imposed on them, and it certainly does not mean that they are being fed ideas which sexualise them in any way.

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Zahra, Business Development Manager, London

I’m really shocked that such a discriminatory and divisive decision has managed to successfully pass as policy in OFSTED. There is no evidence that’s there’s some epidemic of young girls being forced to wear hijab against their will in this country. It’s a non-issue and obviously this is the result of lobbying from anti-Islam groups who want to promote their discrimination. I haven’t heard of similar policies against children from other faith groups. As someone who is educated and proud to be an integrated British Muslim, this will alienate more Muslims from mainstream British society. As long as parents and their children are happy what gives OFSTED the right to interfere with how parents raise their children.

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Zainab Khan, Student, London

The chief job of Ofsted inspectors is to assess the quality of education in educational institutions, not to police identity politics in communities that they may not be familiar with. While there is admittedly a problem in the Muslim community in regards to properly educating women about the reasons behind hijab, if these reasons are properly explained to and understood by a young girl who then still wishes to wear a headscarf, she should not be prohibited from outwardly expressing her religious identity.

If primary school girls are being sexualised due to hijab, the problem does not lie with them, but instead with those who feel it is appropriate and morally justified to view a young girl in ways that make most grown women uncomfortable.

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Zainab Kolia, Teacher, Clapton, London.

My 9 year old daughter wears a beautiful hijab to school. I have never forced her to do this. She enjoys dressing up in different colour hijabs with lovely pins. The hijab does not affect her learning at all. She has some wonderful friends and was elected student of the year. Children see children. Dress code should not be made an issue if it isn’t one.

I believe Hijab is a symbol of trust.

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Zainab Zarrad, Clinical pharmacist, London

It saddens me that our girls will be subjected to questioning in this way at school.

I do feel however that they need to wear it at the appropriate age (8 or 9 onwards) when they are able to know why they’re doing it and be able to explain their reasons. I personally think it’s not about sexuality at all at age 9, but more about valuing the self and removing oneself from the race to compete with unrealistic ideals of beauty and the subsequent feelings of inadequacy that are causing so much unhappiness in young ladies today.

Suicide rates are rocketing in teenage girls and the constant pressure to strive for the unattainable is causing widespread mental health issues.

By wearing hijab I (hope) I am teaching my daughter to concentrate on her inner beauty in her behaviour and her personality and focus on more important goals than how she is perceived and her popularity, which in turn is more fulfilling and satisfying.

Sexuality is about other people. Hijab is about being her own individual respected for her achievements and values that she has full control over, rather than being judged by what she has no control over-her Hair and her body.

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Zaynab Rajan, Optometrist, Harrow

Why one wears the hijab is personal to the individual wearing it. All my friends who wore the hijab at a young age did so willingly and understood why they wore it. I find the Ofsted inspectors questioning girls who wear the headscarf unacceptable and there should not be a blanket questioning on all children wearing it. It is ostracising a whole group of people that already feel under attack with measures such as Prevent. I do not see how hijab could be interpreted as sexualisation of young girls. It is a symbolic act that I, as a woman who wears scarf, find liberating. Just as pictures of made up faces and airbrushed models are not regulated in school, which in my opinion sexualise women, (as well as cause young girls to have low self-esteem, insecurities and even lead to bullying), neither should the observing of a simple cloth to preserve one’s dignity.

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Zubaida Chowdhury, Programmes Administrator, London

Its hard to state why some young girls wear the headscarf as there isn’t one reason. If they have older sister’s, they may imitate them. If they have learnt about modesty and hijab then they may want to wear it due to religious reasons. Some may wear it as a fashion statement. There isn’t one reason.

View on Ofsted inspectors quizzing young girls who wear a headscarf? My view is it is ridiculous, offensive and very islamophobic. They would not ask nuns why they cover their hair, whatever the age, so in the same respect they shouldn’t ask young girls.

Should a school ban young children from wearing a headscarf? No. A school should be all inclusive and allow freedom of expression.

Claim by Ofsted that hijab “could be interpreted as sexualisation of young girls”? It’s again very ridiculous. I do not see the link and I am very distraught that Ofsted and their picketers have made the link. Hijab if observed properly is meant to cover all parts of the person wearing it, apart from what they have to offer intellectually therefore take away any other connotations. Headscarf in my eyes is not sexual.

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Hennah Raza, Member of Law Society, London

It is with great concern and regret that I learned of Ofsted’s proposal to question young Muslim girls wearing the hijab as to why they chose to do so. As a mother of two, I find such an action discriminatory and deeply concerning. As a teacher who has taught in primary schools in the UK, I cannot rationalise how girls would benefit from being singled out and question over their beliefs. And as a corporate lawyer who has worked in the city of London for a major international law firm, I find this proposal offensive and a breach of the very basic rights and British values that we teach our children about protecting: liberty, freedom of thought and expression, and mutual respect for and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs. Wearing the hijab has never hindered me from the performing any of my above roles with tenacity and success. On the contrary it his given me the strength to understand and appreciate that each person is created different. I urge Ofsted to reconsider its position on this matter as a matter of urgency.

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Nazia Syed, Doctor- speciality trainee in Obs and Gynae, Reading

I think questioning young girls about their hijab is a way of subtly promoting further Islamophobia. We are sending mixed messages- firstly we say ‘we should promote British values of freedom of choice’ but on the other hand we are questioning the choice of what others choose to wear, particularly when the clothing is modest and doesn’t get in the way of day to day activities.

Where does this stop? Shall we question teenagers, adults and working women why they wear hijab? Shall we make them feel marginalised and propagate Islamophobia?

We should be questioning other things like why some children are encouraged to ‘choose their gender’? Why should a 3 year old boy be encouraged to choose whether he wears a dress or trousers but a young Muslim girl should be discouraged from following her faith?

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Ms Hussain, Teacher, London

The value of modesty is shared by all faiths across the ages. For example, look at nuns from across several Christian traditions who choose to cover their hair with a headscarf as a sign of modesty and respectability.

Islam as a global faith shares this common value and it is interesting to note that the verses in the Quran which give guidance on modesty (Chapter 24: The Light) addresses males first, before addressing females. This indicates that Islam is interested in protecting the modesty and respectability of both genders and preventing the sexualisation of anyone in society.

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Neelu Begum, Doctoral Student, Morden, Surrey

It’s is ordained in the Quran. This gives an added pleasure and joy to wear a hijab whether in school, university or at workplace. The headscarf is an identity that girls can choose to wear or not. It is an option for them. Personally, it provides me comfort, confidence, who I am, what I represent as a person in society and increases my self-esteem to accept. I believe this is very similar to young girls as headscarf allows the young to express their identity.

I am quite disheveled why the Ofsted feel the need to question young girls about the headscarf. I wasn’t questioned and I choose to wear it when I was growing up in search of who I am as a person. Young girls should all have the option to explore their identity. Headscarf is a choice for every girl and a ban in school is robbing them of a chance to make a decision themselves.

The fact that headscarf claims sexualisation of the headscarf is imposing neutralisation of gender. It’s okay that some girls like pink and boys like blue. There should be no rules or banning of liking colour so why should this be imposed on wearing the scarf? The ban will only prevent and obstruct the society at large of individualism by imposing conformity.

Ofsted is enforcing conformity on young minds around the UK and stealing the freedom of choice is only going to cause further problems in society in the long run.

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Shireen Hilmi, Dentist, London

Young girls wear a headscarf for a variety of reasons, ranging from cultural to religious to family. It is, however, ultimately, an item of clothing. No state has the right to question why any young girl or boy is wearing any item of clothing that is, lets face it, inoffensive. If Ofsted are so concerned about sexualising young girls, they should put an equal emphasis on the regulation of adverts selling make up, high heels and hair products to primary school aged children. When any, again inoffensive, religious dress is banned in schools, I believe it is the beginning of a slippery slope, and frankly, Ofsted need to provide more evidence on why they feel a piece of cloth on one’s head is a child protection issue.

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Amal Warsame, Student, London

I am absolutely outraged at this new Ofsted policy. To ask young schoolgirls why they wear hijab is another example of the misogynistic policing of women, particularly Muslim women. Using the argument of “tackling the sexualisation of young girls” is completely perverted and unethical. Since when was covering up such a sexualised act?

This new policy completely disregards our freedom to dress and express our religion freely.

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Ragad Altikriti, Project manager, Harrow

I am worried about the initiative for Ofsted inspectors approaching young Muslim girls who may already be feeling vulnerable due to the rise in Islamophobia and questioning them about their hijab. The claim that the head-cover is sexualising the girls is ridiculous. At a time when the Freedom of expressing what gender you feel inclined to and where boys can turn up in tutu skirts and be accepted, yet hijab causes a stir!

Hijab is not Islamically obligatory for young Muslim girls, however many families and their little girls chose to get used  to the practise so it becomes an easier step when the age is right.

This questioning will create a negative impact and make the girls and their families feel targeted and further alienate the Muslim community at a time when we are calling for Muslims to integrate more into society. I think banning a certain religious symbol exclusively creates  an atmosphere of oppression. The school banning hijab would be seen as interference with personal choices and freedom rights.

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Um Zainab, AVP investment banking, Birmingham

I am mortified and saddened at the same time after reading this article. The article has caused me great concern over how this absurd inspection will actually pan out. This will no doubt I believe segregate and further divide us in society.

On what grounds do Ofsted have the right to question our girls and to what extent? I for one won’t give permission nor will i consent for anyone to question/quiz my daughters on matters that do not affect the school’s performance. Ofsted publishes an annual report to parliament on the quality of England’s education, I therefore ask what and how would a girl wearing a headscarf impact on the quality of our kids and the schools education?

Such an unfair and targeted article, why just ‘hijab wearing girls’?  Will this include Sikh kids in turbans or of any religion that is following its own traditions which the UK allows?

I am yet to understand the rationale of this. For one are these inspectors going to make judgements that the head scarf equals sexualisation based on 5 year olds comments?  What 5-8 year old makes an informed choice about anything right from what they eat down to where they go, what shoes they wear and what hair cut they have? They are children for a reason and we are called guardians for a reason i.e. we protect them by any way we see fit. So those parents who send their child into school wearing a headscarf are surely instilling a foundation if anything. A foundation which it looks like will be frowned upon at primary schools.  And then who next and what next and for what? This situation brings sadness to my heart.

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Syra Kazmi, Medical Student, in between Leicester Birmingham London

Most little girls want to be and dress like their  mothers, and Muslim girls are no exception. Be it lipstick or a headscarf. But on a more serious note, young girls are also wearing the headscarf as a personal expression of their Muslim identity.

I don’t think it is within the domain of an Ofsted inspection to quiz young girls who wear a headscarf. If they want to learn more about the girls, fine. They may come out of it better educated. But, to single out young Muslim girls for questioning on their religious choices seems unfair unless this is to be extended to all faiths.

A school should absolutely not ban young children from wearing a headscarf. If we are allowing children to explore their identity from primary school age including which gender they like better or sexuality they identify with before puberty, religious exploration should also be respected.

The hijab covers, it does not expose. To sexualise would be to objectify, to expose, to make a body more attractive, no? Many things are open to interpretation. Certain swimming attire used by young girls and boys for that matter during swimming classes through school could be interpreted as sexualising. Will Ofsted be regulating that as well?

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Atena, Civil servant, London

I sometimes wonder why some young girls wear the headscarf, and don’t approve if it is forced by parents. Although they may feel they’re doing the right thing, their daughters may grow up not feeling the respect towards the headscarf that I feel Muslim people should. I see religion as a very personal thing, and when Muslims commit to deeds/obligations, they should understand why and it’s implications. However, some of my hijabi friends spoke to me about wearing it very young, and actually fighting their parents to do so, because their mothers did, they admired their mothers, and so they wanted to be the same. In that instance, I came to understand more that some young girls are really just following the footsteps of mothers/women figures they admire, and that right shouldn’t be taken from them. The same way a young boy wouldn’t be punished in school if one day he feels he identifies as a girl and comes to school in a skirt.

On quizzing young Muslim girls, it’s the singling out which irritates me. Every time the spotlight is taken off Muslims, it seems to come back in another form, and it’s just frustrating now. I can sympathise with the need to protect welfare of children and ensure that nobody is being forced into something they don’t want to be, but I feel that this particular incident isn’t for that purpose, but to just find a new bone to pick with Muslims. At the end of the day, the hijab is a religious obligation and a symbol of faith for Muslim women, in the same way that Muslim men will have modesty obligations to follow in other ways. Technically speaking, parents have the right to raise their children in whatever ways they see fit (in line with the law) and religious upbringing is a right of the parents, if young Jewish boys are not questioned for the payot on the side of their heads to show themselves as Jewish, and Sikh boys are not questioned for their long hair/turbans, Muslim girls should not be singled out and asked if they are forced to wear headscarves. If ofsted is concerned about force of religion onto children, they should not just target/question young muslim girls.

Schools definitely should not ban headscarves on young girls/students. Everyone has the right to identify with their religion. Hijab is interpreted as sexualisation of young girls by people who sexualise young girls. I see it as a young girl being raised in a religious family, following religious obligations. I personally wouldn’t enforce hijab on my daughters, and would give them time to learn about it and it’s purpose, before making that commitment. However, that is me, and other parents who will have good intentions like myself, would act differently, and that is okay as long as a child is not harmed. We can’t deny the odd, sick people who sexualise young girls, but this is an unfortunate problem found all over the world. The fact that ofsted is only questioning Muslim girls, shows that they only see that problem within Muslims, and that is a problem in itself.

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Umulkhayr Mohamed, Project Coordinator, Cardiff

My view on Ofsted inspectors quizzing young girls about wearing the headscarf is simply an over , it is based on the assumption that them wearing the headscarf is causing them harm (assuming that they are being forced to wear it) or that their education is being impacted by it both of which are not based in fact and therefore a clear overreach of their role which in their own words is to “inspect and regulate services that care for children and young people, and services providing education and skills for learners of all ages.” And not police the parenting choices of the children in who use these ‘services’. Moreover, this decision is based on a bigoted view that neutral (which is wrongly perceived as not religious) is best when in fact all that this is an repression of innocent citizens religious freedoms that this country is meant to be committed to protecting. Finally, as for the sexualisation argument that Ofsted is propagating it simply shows the lack of thought they have given this decision as they are simply inflating the headscarf with the concept of hijab which is completely missing the point (and shows how uneducated the are on the issue). Do I think that individual cases of forcing of hijab onto unwilling children should be investigated yes but this decision to question girls whose headscarf wearing has not impacted their education/general well-being is not only unnecessary and a waste of resources, but can also be genuinely traumatic for the girls subjected to questioning!

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Ifath Nawaz, Solicitor, Former President Association of Muslim Lawyers, Buckinghamshire

On a personal note, I do not think that primary school children should be made to wear religious items but rather they should be allowed to be children to be free to explore, to learn, to share, to understand one another and just enjoy their childhood.  However as a lawyer, I believe strongly that we must not allow the state or any other institution to intervene with the fundamental right to practice one’s religion and to live one’s life in accordance with that belief and to raise one’s children in accordance with those beliefs as long as they do no harm.  This is sadly yet another example of a misguided Ofsted acting like a bull in a china shop and interfering with Muslims right to practice their religion as prescribed by Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights and Section 13 of the Human Rights Act.  I wonder in addition whether OFsted has carried out their obligations under the equality duty of the Equalities Act 2010 – it does not appear to be so.  For even a brief consideration of adopting such a policy would highlight the impact of adopting a policy which will ostracize, victimize and single out young Muslim girls and their families.

Not to mention the further damage this will do to the perception of Muslims in this country with the tireless Islamophobic daily rhetoric in the press and the increase of hate crimes against Muslims.  It is to be noted that just yesterday Ratko Mladic was convicted of war crimes and genocide at a UN tribunal – how and why this occurred is a lesson for us all – the slow turning of a whole community into “the others“, they “do not fit in”they “need to be changed” or otherwise does not escape many who are equally concerned at these events as they escalate.  Whether this is discussed in schools, places of worship, interfaith institutions, government institutions – we all stand to gain by showing tolerance, understanding and moving forward collectively.  It also has to be said that there is a very serious debate to be held within the Muslim communities of men and women, of the young and the old,  of where we are now and how we have got here, the efforts that must be put in to bring about the changes that are required in our practices, in our own institutions and in ourselves,  but this must not take away any responsibility that lies with the state to ensure that all its citizens are treated equally and not discriminated against.

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Batool Subeiti, University student (second year Chemical engineering), London

The hijab is a religious requirement to be observed within the Islamic faith. The age of practising depends on what sect in Islam one chooses to follow, and females are required to cover their hair and observe modest clothing aswell as demeanour. This is a divine commandment within the Islamic faith, in order to preserve the chastity of females
and to in fact prevent the very issue of sexualisation within society that Ofsted seems to be concerned with.

The reality of the situation is that we live in a hyper sexualised society where in fact, females from a very young age are encouraged to dress in a sexually provocative manner, where an overwhelming number of young girls feel as though their self worth is determined by how physically attractive and appealing they look.
This phenomenon itself is widespread in the media culture where celebrities are constantly being sexualised, and we are seeing a growing trend of young girls addictively following these celebrities and taking them out to be their greatest role models. This sexual freedom is constantly being encouraged with the younger generations, and it’s gotten as far kids under the age of 10 accounting for over 10% of online visits to porn sites!

This is the reality of the sexualisation that is going on within our very own society. Now if Ofsted is really concerned with tackling the issue of sexualisation, why doesn’t it focus on the root causes of the issues that are promoting this sexualisation, namely the encouragement of sexual freedom by the media and entertainment industries? But no, instead we see the hijab being targeted, when the hijab by its very essence trains an indivdual from a young age to not give into the pressures of society or to be distracted by their unrealistic standards of beauty, allowing them to focus on the productive aspects within their tender ages of being concerned with their mental, spiritual and physical well being. It seems as though Ofsted has misunderstood the objectives of the hijab and its real effects on society when practiced in the right way; perhaps the solution would be to educate those who are ignorant on the hijab as opposed to questioning young indivduals and alienating them, making them feel as though they’re different from the rest of their classmates due to their choice of adhering to the hijab.

Every individual has the basic right to practice their religious beliefs and to display them without being interrogated or questioned, as long as they don’t harm anyone else. Banning young children from observing the headscarf in a society that encourages young girls to become more consumed with their physical appearance and to flaunt their sexuality is a fallacy. It proves that the real concern here is not with the elimination of the sexualisation that is so widespread in our society, but more rather it shows the extent to which the establishment is going with its promotion of Islamophobia and targeting of the Muslim faith.

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Noor Owainati – Public speaker – London

OFSTED have crossed a boundary of tolerance and acceptance by pinpointing Hijab wearing girls. It is not ok that little kids are pulled out of class, singled out for what they choose to wear and asked questions about their faith. British society is a tolerant society and should tolerate this dress at school just as it tolerates other forms of dress.

To suggest that hijab sexualises young girls shows ignorance and lack of judgement by OFSTED and I invite them to learn more about why young girls choose to wear Hijab. We as a country believe in religious diversity and celebrate it. OFSTED is placing the grounds for the bullying of young children and this is not ok. They are placing young girls in a very vulnerable position.

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Anonymous

I fully support the right of women to wear a headscarf if it is there personal choice. I do not believe a prepubescent girl can fully make that choice, just like I don’t think young sikh or jewish boys and girls can meaningfully make the decision to wear religious items of clothing. However, this notion that the headscarf is to promote modesty for the sake of preventing sexual assault or hiding sexuality is subjective and impossible to ascertain from a conversation. A woman may well wear a headscarf for modesty, but it doesn’t necessarily mean she does so to prevent sexualisation or sexual assault. It could mean she wears it as an outward display of faith and therefore identity, or to become closer to her faith by wearing it. Ofsted have reluctantly avoided the question of banning religious symbols but instead have focused on the headscarf. Their line of reasoning is that it implies that young girls are sexual beings that must be protected: something that is an opinion rather than fact. If ofsted want to ban the headscarf, they must ban other religious symbols too before the child is old enough to decide for themselves. If they focus on the headscarf alone, it will be discriminatory.

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Dr Kasia Narkowicz, academic, London

There are many reasons why young girls wear a hijab; to emphasise their Muslim identity, to imitate their role models, to signal that they feel grown up, and hundred more. Quizzing girls who wear the headscarf is yet another example of institutions trying to control Muslim girl’s and women’s clothing. The issue of sexualisation of girls is serious, but it has to do with the culture we live in in the UK where women’s bodies are considered to be legitimate objects of abuse and control – by boys, men and institutions.

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Huda Jawad, Activist Against Violence Against Women and Girls, Working in the Women’s Sector in London, North West London

I was saddened to hear about the Ofsted’s most recent ‘recommendation’ to question girls in primary school about the choice of wearing the hijab. It is now clear more than ever that Muslim communities are singled out at every opportunity to prove their innocence and humanity. Even young girls’ bodies are not protected from the securitised gaze of the state and again Muslim women and young girls’ bodies and their choices are the battle ground upon which ideology and politics are fought. It is said that is done in the name of safeguarding. Schools and teaching professionals think of nothing but safeguarding their pupils’ futures, safety and physical and emotional integrity. Good schools build trusting and long lasting relationships with parents who work out worries and concerns together. I like other parents often seek out the advise and expertise of my children’s tutors and head teachers in all sorts of matters not just academic and its through these interactions that we negotiate and agree what is better for my children’s needs at the time. Having my child singled out in the class by a likely much older inspector and quizzed about why they wear a garment and what is their justification for it would horrify me.

In the name of the safeguarding and child protection we victimise and other little girls who are on the cusp of opening their eyes to the adult world. Where they are being taught the meaning of fairness, equality and respect, the realisation that these are concepts they should practice every day but are unlikely to be the recipients of is far too much of a rude awakening.

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Nada Hasan, Teacher, Hayes.

It has been reported widely over the weekend that the Chief Inspector of Ofsted is planning to ask Muslim girls in primary schools why they wear the hijab. As a Muslim I am very worried and concerned about this unnecessary intrusion. Why is the Ofsted Head interfering with religion and religious attire? Ofsted should be concentrating on improving standards of education, not with religious attire of any community.

Of course, everyone knows, that the hijab is not necessary before the age of puberty. The concept this is somehow “sexualising” young girls is vile and disgusting. The inflammatory words used by a government department supposedly serving the greater good. Parents will bring up their children with certain values, traditions and their household religion/no-religion. The hijab is a lot to do with expressing happiness with an Islamic identity and copying the Muslim women around them at the primary school age. What is wrong with this? This is such a dangerous policy leading down the road of forced extreme secularism.

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Anonymous, Stay at home Mum, Bradford

I think young girls wear hijab to identify as Muslim like their family members. My view of Ofsted quizzing young girls who wear hijab is, it’s outrageous. It’s bringing negativity towards Muslims and isolating us. There is no need for it, it’s clearly against Islam and diversity. Why are they not questioning Sikhs or students who wear crosses? Children should not be questioned for who they are. Schools should not ban hijab. This is why we have diversity. Why do we need to all look the same?  Would turbans be banned for Sikhs? If Ofsted claim the hijab could be interpreted as sexualising young girls- what does the uniform skirt do?

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Mrs F Master, MCOptom, Birmingham

A little girl wearing a hijab and Ofsted calls it “sexualisation”!!!! Where would this end? Are they going to do the same to little Sikh boys who wear a top knot? A Jewish boy wearing a kippah? Isn’t that sexualisation too? How about when a little girl who decides to grow her hair to look like Elsa

from Frozen, isn’t that sexualisation? Where would Ofsted draw a line? Common sense should prevail and there has to be a better way to deal with concerns that Ofsted may have. This surely is not it.

As a little girl, my memory is one of wanting to wear the hijab. I made my own free choice and it was a proud moment for me. I would have been deeply offended if Ofsted came and questioned me about my hijab. I therefore do not wish my daughter to be stigmatised and I want her to have the freedom she deserves to make the choice as I had.

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Mrs A Hirji, Birmingham

I’m a hijabi and the recent guidelines suggest that hijab “sexualises” girls and women, on the contrary the hijab is a form of covering that creates an attitude of modesty and self worth. It says look at me for the intelligent Godly being I am , not the scantily-clad object u have turned me into and put up on billboards and use for ur pleasure and advertising.

This is sexualisation! Not the hijab that I as a Muslim woman wear, this is worn with pride and dignity as a sign of respect of oneself,submission to Allah alone and not to the whims and desires of men and society.

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Fatema Damji, Dental Hygienist, Birmingham

I have to ask myself about what the government is trying to achieve by carrying out such a measure?. I have a daughter and should she choose to wear the veil as is part of her religious duty being a Muslim, I want her to be proud of her decision. To feel safe in the choice she has made.. NOT to be questioned, segregated and targeted for her choices. As a young girl I was never forced to wear the veil. It was a choice I made, but at this delicate age of adolescence had I been questioned of my decision I may have changed my mind.. Why is it that just Muslim girls are questioned and children of other faiths who wear symbols of their faith such as Jewish boys with the Skull cap and Sikh boys with the turban are not questioned. In a society that already undervalues women this is not the message we want to be sending out.

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Shabana, Stay at home mum, London

There is nothing sexual about young girls wearing the hijab. Although it is not necessary for such young girls to be wearing the hijab, many choose to as a way to emulate their mothers in the same way some girls put on makeup, play mummies and daddies or wear heels. It’s completely natural for children to do that and in fact my 21 month old son begs and insists on putting on a hijab like me before he copies me in my prayer actions. Even when my nine year old discusses hijab with me, I have never said it is to cover our beauty from men as this is not the essence of hijab as I see it and my daughter does not know about sex or the more complicated idea of the laws of attraction between men and women. Undoubtedly, there are some muslim who do see things on that basic level but you would be better off discussing this with the adults than the children. For me hijab is both about being dressed conservatively and striving to be pure spiritually.

I feel like a victim because I’m a muslim. I feel like I’m constantly trying to prove how main stream and normal and unterrorist-like I am and the questioning of young girls about hijab just feels like one more way Muslims are victimised. I, like many parents strive to make our children feel normal. To combat the damage done, when a school mate tells my daughter that she heard on LBC that Muslims like to bomb stuff but the truth is any negative message against Islam seems to be welcome. Hijabi kids, Muslim prisoners living in the lap of luxury….

It is not for government to question how someone exercises their religious beliefs. By doing so they are also trying to force a view on young children and infringing on religious freedoms. Its encourages British Muslims to feel like they have to choose between being British and Muslim and we know where that gets us. How many five year olds are actually wearing hijabs for this to be such an issue? Sikh girls don’t have to wear top knots does that mean Sikh boys are not being treated equally?

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M Gani, Director of Operations, Loughborough

I would like to see how Ofsted intends to elicit an intellectual and legislatively informing answer from a 4 year old girl surrounding the sexualisation of a cloth on her head. I’d like to see how she deciphers the theological directives of hijab whilst she plays with Peppa pig and feeds her toy dolls grass from the playground. I’m sure she understands the future implications of her answers on the many thousands of Muslim girls whom this discriminatory practice will alienate, and whom will be once again reminded that society still expects her to justify her sense of being.

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Merali, Publisher, Birmingham

This announcement from Ofsted goes against everything I love about being British. When was tolerance and freedom of worship replaced with fear of the other? My daughter and I have always felt safe in the knowledge that we were born and brought up in a country that respects our choices, regardless of our gender or religion. But time and again we have had to defend our choice and our right to practice our faith – is it so hard to believe that we are educated, and freely choose to wear a headscarf?

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Marwa, Stay-at-home mum, Wembley

I love living in the U.K. Because it is cosmopolitan. Everyone lives with everybody. The U.K. Is very accepting of different kinds of people and different cultures live together. I have lived in the U.K comfortably and peacefully and I am proud to be British because I have lived better than I would have lived in any other country solely because I am free to practice my faith and beliefs without anybody questioning, criticising, or condemning who I am. At school, my peers found my religion interesting and I boasted about it. “I don’t have one Christmas, I have TWO Eid celebrations” I said. “So you get twice the presents?” And with a beaming satisfied smile, I answered “yes I do!”

When I began wearing my hijab, my friends asked even more questions. Some finding it peculiar. Some laughed at the thought of not having hair under my scarf. Which was not true. But I let them laugh. They wanted to know more. That’s what kept me confident. They were intrigued. This in turn made me feel accepted.

I liked being different and I liked having beliefs not many were aware of. I was the only one at school to wear it and what gave me comfort was that my teachers were supportive. They knew I was different in my own way but didn’t comment. They just let me be. That made me love and respect them even more. Every time we studied religious education and the topic was about Islam, they would ask for my opinion on things. I was proud. Wearing the hijab at such a young age made me who I am today. I am proud to be British and strive to continue to bring unity and belief acceptance into our nation. OFSTED questioning young girls will only cause them to shy away from their peers, teachers and their identity. Maybe girls as young as four years old don’t know why they are wearing the hijab. Maybe they just want to dress like mummy. Why can’t we let little girls dress like their mothers? What bad has come from little girls wearing hijab? How can an innocent girl sexualise others by covering herself and minding her own business? It’s time to re-think how to better our education system.

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Rafa Abushaala, Full time University Student (Medical student), Renfrewshire

This proposition of ‘quizzing’ girls who wear the hijab is flawed in many ways. It directly assumes that young girls wearing hijab are being oppressed or are being forced into it. Even if this was the concern, it is not tackled through quizzing children but rather directing efforts in educating Muslim communities that this may be prevalent in. This proposed idea merely sends a message to young Muslims that ‘you are being targeted for being different’ and I believe would contribute to isolation. It contradicts British values of liberty, tolerance and particularly individual liberty.

Just as a school would not ban children’s’ wear of a patka (sikh turban) or the wear of the Christian cross, the hijab should not be targeted either.

Relating hijab with ‘sexualisation’ is absurd as to me. I do not understand the correlation between modest clothing and sexualisation. Maybe Ofsted should start quizzing kids about the type of music or videos they watch if they are truly concerned about the objectification of women. Results would be much more conclusive that way.

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Hana Jafar, University student, Manchester.

I’ve worn a headscarf since I was ten, and it is ludicrous to me that some consider it a ‘sexualisation’ and are proposing that young, impressionable children be quizzed about a personal choice, forcing them into a vulnerable position of having to defend something that they can’t always articulate at such a young age. I wore the hijab because women I loved and admired wore it, and it came to represent the values that define me today. I wanted to be ‘grown up’ – and unlike the actual sexualisation of young girls – toddler sized bikinis or high heel booties for babies – the hijab represents respect and ownership of our bodies and who has access to them. Children are made to learn that they need to protect their bodies from strangers, and are supposed to be taught early about consent and what is appropriate and not appropriate, so how can we then tell them that it’s not okay to protect that, to the degree that they feel comfortable?

If the hijab were to be policed, and potentially banned, how would that work? What constitutes ‘too young’ and who decides that? imposing such restrictions is real oppression, especially for a harmless, and arguably positive personal freedom that all children have the fundamental right to explore.No authority should be able to take that away when it is a crucial part of being Muslim, to the way of life of many children.

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Mrs A, Manager (NHS Trust), Harrow

Some young girls wear the headscarf (hijab) for a number of secular and religious reasons.  Secular reasons would be to be more confident about themselves (better self-esteem) and feel more self-conscious of personal needs as a growing girl. It also helps to avoid feeling bullied or  pressurised by anyone & serves as a protection from engaging in any activity which is disliked by the young girl wearing it.

Religiously, it is a natural safeguarding mechanism especially when in mixed company. It is a religious obligation after a certain age, and serves as an early preparation to changing behaviours from an even younger age. Extra-curricular religious activities at home and evening / weekend religious classes require this dress code. For ease and consistent behaviour at all times home/school/socially/ religious classes – wearing the hijab all the time means the young girl will be clear regarding her personal identity at all times.

The hijab is an “ornamental” dressing item to beautify the young girl as well as maintain her modesty in front of strangers & particularly boys & men.

The hijab is a reinforcement of her understanding regarding family & social relationships and gives her the confidence to form & consolidate her relationships correctly  with those related to her as well as those unrelated to her.

Ofsted Inspectors asking 4 year old girls or young primary school girls why they are wearing the hijab will cause conflict and doubt as there is no standard or correct answer to this question.

Schools MUST NOT BAN girls & women wearing the hijab as it is a fundamental right of a Muslim girl to wear it for both secular & religious reasons (stated above). It is also a basic woman’s right under the Equality Act. The young girl (regardless of her age) is a well-loved daughter, sister, niece & friend to family, friends & relations. She is a proud role model to other young girls. Her personal growth & development & security will be positively influenced by her wearing the hijab – regardless what age she is.

Ofsted’s claim that hijab could be interpreted as “sexualisation” of young girls is not true. It is a protection from preditory sexualising behaviours by others towards her. The hijab ensures she is not put at risk and prevents her becoming  vulnerable to sexually offensive behaviours &  environments.

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Saleha Islam, Regional Director of Penny Appeal, London

Young girls wear headscarves for a number of reasons sometimes because their parents have put it on them, other times because they have seen women in their family wear it and they want to do the same.

I cannot understand why ofsted would ask such a question of young girls, what are they trying to ilicit by doing so. It creates a division to say that we are different.

Wearing a head scarf is a sign of modesty in islam often young girls start to wear it years before they are required to, because women in their family do. If it doesnt affect their school work why should it be a problem for schools.

In regards to hijab being interpreted as sexualisation of young girls this is absurd it is a sign of submission to our faith, boys also have a duty to be modest are they being asked the same question. This whole issue needs more thought and understanding from ofsted. There are a lot more pressing issues ofsted should be concentrating on rather than a piece of cloth on the head of a girl.

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Shohana Khan, London

Most girls who wear the hijab at an early age do so not because it’s prescribed by their religion, but because they are eager to copy the dress code of loved ones they see around them. So for the Gov to intervene on the kind of aspirations girls have in how they express themselves is social engineering at its finest.

Secondly I am not aware of one mother, who even if she accepts benefits of the hijab in relationships between adult practising Muslims, who would present this argument to their young daughter – instead it is seen as a simple act of devotion, assertion of identity. This conflation of sexualisation and hijab in girls appears baseless and needs to be substantiated with further evidence for it to become part of national policy.

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Iman, Infection Registrar, London

I am deeply concerned by Ofsted’s recommendation that schoolgirls be quizzed on headscarves. Muslim girls have enough to deal with as it is in an increasingly polarised Islamophobic social and political environment. Adding an unnecessary line of questioning to a group that already have the statistically lowest rate of employment nationally will further wider inequality of opportunity by further marginalising a group we need to be engaging.

We need to be supporting young women through the choices they make not subjecting them to interrogation at such a young age. The notion that this represents ‘sexualisation’ is a smokescreen for a discriminatory practice that requires its own oversight. With practice like this, it appears that we need an ofsted for ofsted.

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Sofia Buncy, Muslim Women in Prison Rehabilitation Coordinator- Bradford

It is wrong of Ofsted to pander to pressure from a particular lobby, to be judgemental and interfere with Muslim parents rights to bring up their children in accordance to their faith values.

Of course, I would strongly oppose any element of force or coercion of children. The matter of hijab is a matter for parents, children and schools to come to an understanding on.Any issues need to be dealt with at this local level without ‘watchdog’ interference. This creates mistrust and more toxic tension within communities.

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Sana Bhamani, A level student, Leeds

By observing other female family members, some girls decide to wear the headscarf. If an Ofsted inspector quizzes young girls, such a young girl could feel intimidated because she is being stigmatised because of the way her religion tells her to dress, whereas this may not be the case for any other child. Schools should not ban young children from wearing a headscarf, because In a multicultural society in the 21st century, we should respect each individual and their beliefs. I feel that hijab isn’t a sexualisation of young girls, as it is supposed to be a modest covering.

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Darifa Muhammad, Chief Information Officer, West Midlands

It is deeply concerning that Ofsted has decided that it will be specifically targeting young Muslim girls by quizzing them about their Hijab. This is a dangerous step to alienate them, treat them as second class citizens and strip them of their basic human right to practise their faith freely and without prejudice. It is worrying that an establishment that is supposed to look after the educational needs of children cannot see the detrimental impact this move will have on the mind of a young child.

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Farah, Lawyer, Woking

Does Ofsted really believe that hijab “sexualises” girls any more than other apparel?  Will they also be questioning girls over their choice to wear skirts to school rather than trousers?  And how will responses to such questions enlighten us on a school’s provision of care? Are Ofsted still labouring under the misapprehension that a girl wearing hijab must have been forced to do so, especially a young girl who is far more likely to be emulating a mother or older sister?  Or that it is the first step to radicalisation? When can we expect Ofsted to rise above prejudice and ignorance?

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Som, Manager, Woking

I am concerned that Ofsted think that it is acceptable to question young primary school age girls about any topic, let alone about why they are wearing a hjab / headcovering. However, I do agree that someone such as Ofsted needs to investigate this, through other means such as speaking to the parents or going on a religious awareness course of some sort. Schools should only be expected to accommodate an adjustment to their usual school uniform policy to mitigate a conflict with a religious obligation i.e. older girls who have reached puberty who would like to observe hijab. Because there is no Islamic religious obligation for a pre-pubescent female to observe the hijab / modest covering in such a manner. And Muslims should have respect for the school uniform.

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Julie Siddiqi, Mentor, Consultant and activist with a focus on gender issues, Slough

I’m totally against the Ofsted comments. I don’t even think that will happen anyway, but the damage is done, certainly among Muslims. However, a discussion does need to happen among Muslims around primary school girls wearing the headscarf, as they don’t need to wear it.

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Lucy Bushill-Matthews, Charity Consultant, Woking

It is not necessary for girls under the age of puberty children to wear a scarf. For those who do because it is in the uniform policy, that is an issue with the uniform policy. Others may do so for different reasons, including wanting to look like their mum. Whatever the reason, it seems completely inappropriate to question the young girls. Only the previous week the Church of England advised its 5,000 primary schools that children should be able to try out ‘the many cloaks of identity’ without being labelled or bullied. Can it really be the case that we let our children try out tiaras and helmets but not scarves?

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Anisah Rahman, currently studying in university, Greater Manchester – Oldham

The wearing of a hijiab is far from the sexualisation of a young woman. The teachings of it resonate from the concept of modesty, in which their beauty is sacred and so should be protected not something to be exploited. It teaches young girls that they should not be judged by their appearance, but by their worth. It empowers a woman to feel confident, and gives pride to be a Muslim in which it gives them strength to get through each day despite the rude allegations made towards them, they stay true to themselves.

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Jessica Faria, Student at Kings College London.

I believe that some girls wear the hijab as they feel more connected to their religion and also more liberated as individuals who can express their identities. My view on Ofsted inspectors quizzing young girls who wear a headscarf is discriminating them amongst the rest of the groups of people, be it religious or cultural. This may make girls who wear the hijab feel this is a negative thing and may make them stop wearing hijabs as they are targeted. I believe that any student of any religion should be able to freely express their identity in the way they dress, thus there shouldn’t be a ban on young girls wearing the hijab as it removes aspects of their identity.

I think the claim made by Ofsted that the hijab “could be interpreted as sexualisation of young girls”? is extremely demeaning of our young girls and is offensive to Islamic practices as the hijab is worn by choice and most often because women feel the hijab represents their modesty.

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Mrs Lila Begum, home maker, Newham, London.

I am also a full-time carer for my 16 year old globally delayed an autistic child I have two younger children one is a boy who’s 13 years old and a girl who is 9 years old.

I am a second generation British Muslim my children of 3rd generation. I am a practicing Muslim and my children go to mosque in the evening to learn Quran and Gain knowledge in Islam.

My 16 year old girl doesn’t understand any culture or religion and she’s free to do what she wants to do with parental guidance.

My 9-year-old girl understands religion, culture, modesty and dressing. It is her wish to wear a headscarf from this year so she started putting on a headscarf and  I had never possessed it on her.  She wants do this as it makes happy and God told us in  the Holy  Quran women should wear a scarf. Also to dress modestly, neat and clean.

Ofsted should have no right to ask our young gilrs to take off a garment that they are wearing for their religious reasons for dressing modestly. If they have the right to do that then they have the right to ask Sikh boys and girls to take off the turbans and Jewish boys to take off their Hat.

This is our Islamic identity and we dress modestly which doesn’t affect our education or harm any human being. We have our rights to dress how we want and no one should take that away from us. Ofsted cannot band girls head scarf as this is a religious identity.

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Fateha Khatun, University student, Greater Manchester – Oldham

Many girls have different reasons, ranging from voluntarily choosing to wear a headscarf due to religious belief, copying friends and family pressure.

Inspectors can be deemed disrespectful and inappropriate for asking personal questions regarding such a topic because it is heavily attached to identity and personal religious beliefs and girls’ personal lives. It is cruel to ask young girls such specific questions that put them on the spot. However, if the educational institution believes that girls are being forced to wear a headscarf, schools and Ofsted may offer suitable assistance with the permission of the girls

Should a school ban young children on wearing a headscarf? Never! To ban the headscarf is against freedom of religion and a truly pathetic and in-British thing to do. A school wouldn’t ban skirts and trousers, so why ban head scarfs? Why ban something that is directly valuable to female Muslim identities?

Claim by Ofsted that hijab “could be interpreted as sexualisation of young girls”?

For making such an ignorant filthy claim, Ofsted is truly repulsive. Clearly they do not know what hijab is and continue to judge other religions and races from an ignorant mind set. Hijab is for both men and women in different ways, in Islam. Hijab involves covering oneself for modesty and respect – this is not to say that female bodies require to be covered to be respected, no, Islam requires that we are all treated with respect regardless of how we dress. Rather, Islam acknowledges the faults of society and seeks to value women for their humanity rather than how society labels women as sexual objects. Hijab seeks to empower girls by giving us the power of who can see what parts of us weather that be our personality or our appearance. Anyone who is sexualising children is quite filthy. Ofsted should not be associating paedophilic thoughts with such modest Islamic beliefs.

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Thahira Khatun, Student, East London

I think we need to ask why, and ask it boldly when it comes to Ofsted questioning young girls who wear a headscarf. Will Oftsed also be asking young Sikh children why they wear a Kara or a turban? Will Oftsed ask young Jewish children why they wear the kippah? If not, then why have young Muslim children been singled out for this questioning? What are Ofsted hoping to achieve and what is the aim? The choice to wear a hijab (headscarf) is a personal one, and the answers will vary for every young child asked; so if Ofsted are seeking a ‘right’ answer, I’d love to hear what it is that’d be deemed a ‘right’ or appropriate answer. This questioning hugely undermines the autonomy of these young children, and the upbringing they may have had. The attire of a child should not be a concern for Ofsted – the quality of educational institute and its teaching should be their primary and sole concern. This is yet another perfect example of Muslim students being ostracised – and Ofsted are complicit. We teach our children to be who they want, to express themselves as they wish, and this is meant to be at the core of British values – freedom – but as soon as a Muslim child makes the choice to wear an item of clothing like the headscarf, suddenly investigation is required. Children have rights & choices too. It’s awful that schools, especially primary schools, will now become a place where this mentality of suspicion is bred, where children will find their confidence and self esteem questionable. People keep breeding this ostracising of Muslims, right down to our children, and then wonder why Islamophobia is rampant. And this is exactly what it is: Islamophobia. As for Ofsted’s claim that hijab “could be interpreted as sexualisation”, if that’s a _genuine_ and _real_ concern, then we need to take a step or two back and address why, in a primary school, young girls would even be perceived in a sexual way. Sexualisation isn’t down to any garment, or what anyone chooses to wear, far from it. Ultimately, it boils down to the culture that has been bred in society that continuously perpetuates the mentality of seeing things and people in a sexual way. And that’s what needs questioning and working on, not the choice of a young girl to wear an item a garment.

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Mariam, Financial Analyst

I started wearing the hijab as early as 9 years old. It was a long awaited event that I have been looking forward to for a very long time; my mum was wearing it, my older cousin had started wearing it and finally it was my turn. My parents never forced me to wear it, it was a decision completely made by myself. I lived in Germany at the time, and found myself to be the only one wearing the hijab at school. Whilst some kids found it very intriguing and interesting, others found it ‘different’ to what they are used to and decided to use bullying to what they don’t know much about. Very often, teachers and peers at school were interested in my religion and why I chose to wear the hijab, which allowed me to explain my religion and the reasoning behind it. This allowed them to become open minded and accepting of different religions and their practices.

The main reason I chose to wear the hijab is because I decided to follow the religion Islam, including all its teachings and practices, hijab being one of them. In addition, I believe that the hijab allows people to judge me by my personality and character first, rather than my looks.

Contrary to the claim made by Ofsted that hijab could be ‘interpreted as the sexualisation of young girls’, I argue that it acts as the exact opposite by showing everyone that girls should not be treated as objects of sexualisation, their beauty is not the definition of their personality. Girls have a mind to think, to study and work, to act as important role models in society and to make a difference. Arguing that girls who were the hijab are oppressed, means we are saying covering their beauty is oppression and we are limiting girls to their appearance.

Furthermore quizzing girls about the hijab will make them scared, feel isolated from British society and feel like they are sitting a test which nobody else is sitting. It might even make them feel like they are committing a crime. It will set them further apart from their peers and allow discrimination. This is contrary to all values of British society which emphasises the importance of integration, acceptance, multiculturalism and freedom of religion.

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Anonymous, Student, London

Girls, young and old make a personal choice to wear the religious head-covering. Muslim girls who choose to wear the headscarf are motivated by religious reasons to do so. While it may be encouraged by their parents where the child does not willingly object, it is not something that is/should be forced, rather it is an individual religious choice as mentioned  before.

Should a school ban young children from wearing a headscarf – no, for the reasons mentioned above. And more reasons for refuting this below.

Claim of Ofsted that hijab “could be interpreted as sexualisation of young girls?” This is truly a unfounded and unprofessional comment by Ofsted which has definitely lowered their standard in my opinion as well as many others.

On reading the Guardian’s article about this, it’s seems as though Ofsted in suggesting that the headcovering could lead to sexualisation of girls because the headcovering is recommended for girls who have reached puberty. This is an absurd assumption and miscontrued extrapolation of the essence of the Islamic headcovering, let’s breakdown why this is the case. First of all while modesty is outlined for women who have reached maturity, it does not follow that the head covering must only be worn once reaching puberty, one may want to wear it before, during or after puberty and that decision is between themselves and God.

Secondly another incorrect assumption is that wearing of the headscarf leads to sexualisation. This is the opposite of what modesty, outwardly via clothing like the headscarf/ many other articles, as well as inward modestly through character, embodies.

The headscarf  and indeed modesty in general (different meaning to different people) is practised as an act of worship and brings with it respect of intellect, personality, chartacter, DEsexualisation/DEobjectification.

It is therefore and infringment of religious freedom to make uneducated claims like this by Ofsted and take action to prevent those who wear the headcovering from doing so by rulings or prejudice.

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Ayesha Tarannum, Student, London

The headscarf is religious attire, but Muslim women and girls are not a monolith. They wear the hijab for a number of reasons: some because they want to showcase their religious devotion, others because they are trying to discover an identity. The reasons are endless and no one individual or group should attempt to draw a definitive list of these.
Ofsted quizzing students in hijab is discriminatory and should be met with appropriate action. Students are being singled out because of their physical appearance and this goes against every value that the British education system teaches. It is a shame that an authoritative body has stooped to such low measures.

A school should not ban students from expressing their identities, given it does not belittle or threaten the identities/safety of those around them. The banning of the hijab in an educational institution is a nonsensical notion.

The hijab signifies devotion to God. To turn it into an item worn for the sake of others significantly demeans it – this is what we’re doing when we say that the hijab ‘sexualises’ young girls. We have rightly established a society which shuns those who enforce certain lifestyles/behaviours/clothing, and yet we give ourselves the authority to isolate a young child because of what she is wearing? Undoubtedly this will have a negative impact on the child’s development as a student and as a person. And anyone who looks at the hijab as a sexualising ornament will need to reflect on their own attitudes and prejudices if they are able to draw such conclusions.

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Fauzia Mian, Dentist, Croydon

I am concerned that the muslim community is under the microscope again. Is there any other religious faith that has had so many accusations thrown at them and  in such a negative manner?

We do not even ask if Sikh children should wear their turbans, or Jews their skull caps. This is not even considered as gender inequality or forced acceptance of religious clothing . Yet we see the muslim children are now having to defend their right to have their own piece of cloth on their head.

This piece of cloth will not stop the child from getting the top grades and a good job. Whether the child wearing the cloth on their head is a girl or boy.

Ofsted should use their time to inspect the way that education is delivered and standards of delivery. It needs to give value for money for the rate payer who employ them.

Is this really what the public wants the inspectors to do is to use their time to quiz children about the piece of cloth on their head, or what the child has learnt in class?

If the headscarf is the opposite of sexualizing the child.

Definition of sexualization in Wikipedia. Sexualization (or sexualisation) is to make something sexual in character or quality, or to become aware of sexuality,[

The way to stop any sexualization of a child is to not use adult clothing for children and to dress appropriately for your age. What has the head covering to do with sexulality? Nothing!

The article in Wikipedia tells us that  According to the American Psychological Association, sexualization occurs when “individuals are regarded as sex objects and evaluated in terms of their physical characteristics and sexiness.”[3]“In study after study, findings have indicated that women more often than men are portrayed in a sexual manner (e.g., dressed in revealing clothing, with bodily postures or facial expressions that imply sexual readiness) and are objectified (e.g., used as a decorative object, or as body parts rather than a whole person). In addition, a narrow (and unrealistic) standard of physical beauty is heavily emphasized. These are the models of femininity presented for young girls to study and emulate.”[4] Women who embrace their sexual desires are considered to be sexy and attractive to men who want nothing more than to have a woman as a sex toy.

I will be asking my MP about the use of public money to fund inspections of schools that target certain minorities. Is the education of our children, Muslim, Sikh, And Jews determined by a piece of cloth on their head?

I am of the opinion that the head scarf for a child plays no role in their attainment of full educational rewards.

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Fahmida Rahman, Second year History student/ Retail sales assistant, East London

Definitely should not be banned because to make the hijab forbidden would make young Muslim girls believe that their statement of identity is against the law, as though they are second-class for what they believe in, that their beliefs are indeed inferior. Like young Muslim girls growing up in the western world aren’t confused about their whole dual identity issue as it is, but to ban the hijab could end up making them to grow up to think that the hijab is a statement of oppression. That they shouldn’t wear it in any public setting (work, uni, work experiences, etc.) I think it just adds to more confusion and is a bit much on primary kids; freely being able to wear the Hijab at school probably acts like a balance between their home and outside values.

 

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Rumena Islam, Student, Portsmouth

The claim by Ofsted that hijab could be interpreted as sexualisation of young girls shows the very little knowledge they have of Islam. Society needs to stop policing women on how they should or should not dress. We are always telling children that they are allowed to be who ever they want to be, but as soon as it is a Muslim it is a whole different story. What about other faith such as sikh boys who wear turbans, will they be questioned too? Ofsted need to focus on how they can improve the education system as there are many areas of improvement. Instead, there is a focus on singling out innocent children because of their dress code. Whether a young child wishes to wear a hijab should be down to the individual. By quizzing young Muslim girls on how they dress is sending out the message that they are not accepted in this society. What will that do in terms of their self-esteem? How a person dresses does not determine their educational outcomes, if anything it society that prevents Muslim girls that wish to observe hijab from being able to achieve their career goals.

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Hena Ahmed, Team Manager, Childrens Social Care, Redbridge, London

Girls often wear hijab as they copy their older siblings or friends, parents may also feel that it’s good training for the future to start early.

I’m concerned that Ofsted is attending to this matter. Do they quiz Sikh boys who wear turbans or Jewish boys who wear the kippan. In my view it’s part of their islamaphobic narrative and a racist ideology that is based on their mission to ‘ rescue’ Muslim girls or to label everything as extremist, this links in with the prevent strategy, I question the purpose and the motive behind this. Does the headscarf impact on a child’s capacity to learn? In majority of cases no it doesn’t so why are OFSTED inspectors interested in regulating what the female gender wear? What next?

Should a school ban young children on wearing a headscarf? No- why? They need to ask the question does it impact on a child’s learning that’s their main business. If it doesn’t then it is simply an Islamophobic act.

Many things can be interpreted as sexualisation of young girls- go and look at the types of clothes in mainstream shops available for young girls, pop music industry and so on but you will never hear anyone talk about sexualisation it’s regarded as freedom of choice.

All this is part of the anti Muslim narrative that Michael Gove  started helped by people like Debbie Jones ex-ofsted lead, continued to thus day.

Wearing a headscarf is a commitment to Allah and something some parents feel they have to instil in their child. I don’t agree with any parent forcing their child to wear the hijab and I think it’s not necessary to wear the hijab until a child reaches puberty but it is totally wrong for OFSTED to get involved in something they have no understanding of.

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Aisha Robins, Administrator, London

It is unacceptable that Ofsted would want to isolate young girls and interrogate them on headscarves. Why would ofsted want to put a child into a distressing and confusing situation? If jewish young children have ringlets framing their face and a hat, or sikh children wearing a turban, how is it any different? Is there going to be issues with other religions too? This is clearly a violation of the Equality Act 2010 and blatant Islamophobia.

The hijab is symbolic of a modest, protective covering. Do not taint our religion. We are not close-minded like the French, are we?

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Miss Lorna Strachan, Special Needs Travel Escort, Stratford, London

Muslim girls wear the headscarf because they want to as they see their mother and other members of their family or community wearing it.

I’m totally disgusted to think that the authorities think that they should be the ones to cross the boundaries on how a Muslim child chooses to dress.  In a time where much is said about gender equality, this issue has highlighted that they were prepared to confuse and humiliate young Muslim girls based on their religious choices.

A school should not be able to ban any child based on their religious/cultural beliefs.

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 Aisha Isse, Student, living in Slough

It is concerning that Ofsted think this approach will have any positive outcome for the young girls they are targeting. What Ofsted are essentially doing is using young girls as political tools to further demonise aspects of Islam, and Muslims as a consequence. It is clear that this singling out of young Muslim girls is motivated by pure Islamophobia. It is entirely inappropriate for Ofsted to claim that hijab could be interpreted as sexualisation of young girls, when there are various, innocent reasons that motivate wearing a headscarf from a young age. Ofsted’s priorities should be on facilitating real improvements in the quality of education. Not interrogating little girls on their headscarf, and feeding into the obsession with what Muslim girls are wearing.

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Fahmida Begum, University intern, East London

Some young girls choose to wear the headscarf simply to show their identity as a muslim. Some parents may want their daughters to wear the headscarf to teach them the idea of modesty and to also teach them that a piece of material should not stop them in achieving what they want, in all aspects of their lives. It’s what’s in their head that matters not what’s on it. The policy of banning the headscarf at school and the idea of Ofsted inspectors quizzing young girls wearing the headscarf is absolutely stupid. In the current political climate we are living in right now, muslims are already being seen in a negative light by the mass media. Allowing young girls in headscarves to be quizzed ultimately means taking the views of vulnerable young girls, and then cherry-picking, misquoting and misrepresenting those views to suit the views of what higher authorities want to hear. The quote; “hijab could be interpreted as sexualisation of young girls”, clearly denotes the idea that this person probably has a somewhat perverse mentalilty and has no knowledge of why a headscarf is worn in the first place.

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Roshan Ahmed

I am a british muslim of  mixed race . I wear a hijaab to work with abayah. I happen to be a main stream teacher in an inner city primary school where many students as young as 5-6 wear hijaab.  Some students in my class of 6-7 year old wear hibaab.  I share a common identity with them through the hijaab.

If we are ofsteded it will look strange since I also wear hijaab…what are they going to ask if Im also there…? Children in my class are not even aware of my hijaab. .never question me…neither do they question each other. What about turbans…

It is an exaggeration as it’s just material covering the body except Muslims cover up a higher percentage.  I think Ofsted should be more concerned with education or look into the fashion industry targeting young children’s clothing now to replicate the images on bilboards.

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Sara Fashola, Southampton.

I was raised as a Muslim and as a young Muslim girl, we understood the hijab to be a part of our religion. Much like praying or fasting.

I think it is preposterous that Ofsted is trying to smear this act of worship by insinuating that there might be a “sexualisation of young girls” going on in Muslim homes. Anyone who sees the hijab in a young girl as “sexualisation”, is sick; much like anyone who sees a 7 year old in a bikini as “sexual”.

It is highly irresponsible for a government body to make such sinister accusations about a community of people who are trying their best to live amongst everyone else peacefully in an otherwise biased world.

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Shamima Akter, Student, London

Wearing a hijab/headscarf is a personal choice that gives young girls the chance to practice their faith and chose how to portray themselves in public. This choice that we have, is undermined through Ofsted questioning it; one’s choice of clothing, regardless of whether or not faith is attached to it, should never be targeted by an institution that focuses on academic advancement. Alongside that, no institution should have the right to stop an individual from practicing their religion and way of life because of a fear created through ignorance.

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Rakhia Ismail, Local Councillor, also freelance designer, and a consultant, on Muslim youth and BAME issues, London

Young Muslim girls were headscarf, first it is a sign of our identity as Muslims, second as Muslim women its a symbol of modesty, and its best way young girls to grow up with modesty as in our Quran. I live in London mother of 3 teenager girls who all were headscarf and they r very proud to be wearing too. its not Ofsted inspectors job to tell schools, or Muslims parents to tell how they dress their children, as well not micromanage schools or the society at larger. Muslim girls have enough on their plate and does not need the focus be on their headscarves. Its utter nonsense about the idea of hijab could be sexualisation of young girls. Oftsed should again focus what their job and leave issues that they know will give them cheap PR but will divide British people weather Muslim or not.

 

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Umulkhayr Mohamed, Project Coordinator, Cardiff

My view on Ofsted inspectors quizzing young girls about wearing the headscarf is simply an over , it is based on the assumption that them wearing the headscarf is causing them harm (assuming that they are being forced to wear it) or that their education is being impacted by it both of which are not based in fact and therefore a clear overreach of their role which in their own words is to “inspect and regulate services that care for children and young people, and services providing education and skills for learners of all ages.” And not police the parenting choices of the children in who use these ‘services’. Moreover, this decision is based on a bigoted view that neutral (which is wrongly perceived as not religious) is best when in fact all that this is an repression of innocent citizens religious freedoms that this country is meant to be committed to protecting. Finally, as for the sexualisation argument that Ofsted is propagating it simply shows the lack of thought they have given this decision as they are simply inflating the headscarf with the concept of hijab which is completely missing the point (and shows how uneducated the are on the issue). Do I think that individual cases of forcing of hijab onto unwilling children should be investigated yes but this decision to question girls whose headscarf wearing has not impacted their education/general well-being is not only unnecessary and a waste of resources, but can also be genuinely traumatic for the girls subjected to questioning!

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Rizwana Ali, Technical Manager, Newton Mearns,Glasgow.

Some young girls want to wear hijab as they see their mothers, aunts , relatives and friends wearing it. My niece choose to wear it in primary 4 as she seen her Mum and me wearing it. Or girls may wear it,as it’s their parents wish and rightly so as they have the right to make decisions for their child and this is protected under Article 8 of the European Court of Human Rights as a fundamental right to private and family life. In our multi-faith, diverse society all parents, whether Jewish, Muslim and others, or of no faith, have the right to raise their children in their chosen religion (or none). Why are Muslim girls being singled out? Is Sikh boys going to be questioned wearing the turban or Jewish boys for wearing the cap ?  This questioning of the Muslim girls is undermining the rights of parents in the UK.This isn’t coercion but a right of parents to freedom of religion and family life. So why are Ofsted interfering in fundamental rights and inspectors feel they can question our children without parental consent?

Totally shocked at Ofsted inspectors quizzing young girls who wear a headscarf – They are being discriminatory, totally incorrect, inconsiderate and intolerant to question Muslim girls at school . I am shocked that girls will be picked out and quizzed just because of a head covering. Feel they are sending out a very strong and wrong message to the Muslims in the UK. People are so misled by the media and want to bully and ostracise young girls wearing hijab at school because of their own ignorance about the peace loving faith.

A school should definitely not ban young children from wearing a headscarf. What is happening to freedom of choice to how we dress? What is happening to be tolerant of all faiths in the UK? The claim by Ofsted that hijab “could be interpreted as sexualisation of young girls” is totally Islamaphobic.

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Shuley, Secondary Maths Teacher, Windsor

Girls where hijab for a number of reasons including modesty, role models. I am appalled at the sound of what Ofsted propose. It is the equivalent of questioning any young girl on their clothing, whether that’s, a skirt, trousers, dress, short. Most young girls wear clothing that they are told to wear, that they see influences wearing, what is available to wear and what their mothers tell them.

Headscarf should not be banned, as that would be oppression. The other way to look at it is what if girls were banned from wearing revealing clothes, this would also be oppression. It makes us as a society go backwards a couple of centuries when females were told what they could and couldn’t do.

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Shifrah, Student, London

Islam teaches the importance of modesty and how Muslim women should wear the headscarf (hijab) when they reach the age of puberty. It is well within the rights of Muslim parents to teach their girls at a younger age about this concept in Islam. Furthermore some younger Muslim girls do admire and long to wear the hijab earlier as means of expressing their modesty and wanting to please God. As a result, their parents may accordingly encourage their interest in wearing the headscarf earlier.

I feel it is patronising and irresponsible to single out Muslim girls by quizzing them on why they would want to exercise their lawful right to practice their religion at an earlier age. By doing so it reinforces the false, negative and degrading stereotypes regarding the hijab. It is also demeaning towards Muslims as a whole when this degree of questioning is not applied to children of other faiths who are also fulfilling their right to practice their religion by wearing religious items including a Christian cross,  Jewish cap or Sikh turban etc.

Schools should not ban young girls from expressing their beliefs by wearing the headscarf as they have the lawful right to practice their religion however they please. Also the girl’s parents have the right to help them practice their religion by encouraging them and teaching them about their religion.

Claim by Ofsted that hijab “could be interpreted as sexualisation of young girls”? This claim is preposterous as the hijab is an item of clothing which is a sign of devotion towards God. This claim of sexualisation is not extended to the wearing of other garments such as skirts or shorts, so why is it being applied to the hijab?

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Sara Mohamed, London

I absolutely get where Ofsted is coming from, but targeting kids in their *schools* is very dangerous for their fragile mental stability. I remember when I was in primary, I was constantly questioned by my teachers about my hijab and it really weakened my confidence as a child. I felt like I always needed to defend myself and my parents against their judging questions. My parents never forced me into wearing my hijab and as a kid, I was actually very excited to wear it at 9, which was when puberty started to hit. I was always taught by my parents that my hijab is not a “cultural” tradition, but a religious necessity! Just like how Sikhs wear the turban, and Orthodox Jews wear the Kippah. So instead of risking the children’s innocence, how about teaching the parents or advising them on communities they can let their children attend. I learned all the things I needed about my hijab by going to Arabic School and not by being questioned by Non Muslims that would never understand, even if answered.

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Noshin Akhtar, Full Time Mother, Sparkhill

A headscarf is a muslim girl’s identity and a symbol of modesty. You naturally feel more safe when you are covered then exposed.

I think questioning school girls in regards to their hijabs is wrong It takes away the freedom of practicing ones religion. Muslim girls are being singled out by being questioned about their religious choices which can affect their phsycological and emotional well being.

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Abida Hussain, Foster Carer, Acocks Green

Every individual has the right and choice to practice their religion and bring up theirs children according to their beliefs and values. Banning something that’s part of a religion discriminates and devalues the individual and causes further prejudice against the minorities. These practices and questions should immediately be stopped and dismissed to prevent further alienation.

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Nazmeen Bibi, Midwife

I was appalled to hear ofsted would like to quiz young girls wearing a headscarf at school. It is a fundamental aspect of being a Muslim and protecting Muslim identity. Muslim girls wear the garment with pride and the prospect of ofsted questioning them and alienating them is shocking. Are other faiths targeted for practicing their religion? Are Sikh boys also going to be questioned about wearing turbans? Ofsted are overstepping the mark. The entire education system in the UK requires a lot of attention in terms of improving the actual education children receive and that is where Ofsted is required. Not tormenting young girls about an innocent garment.  I feel the inappropriate advertisements and role models for young girls are promoting sexualisation however there are no measures in place to tackle this growing problem. What is the real agenda here?