HRCSL urges public not to harass women in hijab | Sunday Observer

HRCSL urges public not to harass women in hijab

The Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) has urged the public to abstain from troubling, harassing and insulting Muslim women during their day-to-day activities.

In a statement, Chairperson of the Commission Dr. N. D. Udagama said the Commission had received complaints by women alleging that they were stopped from entering public places and buildings.

Women wearing the hijab and abhaya (both not banned in Sri Lanka) were thus harassed, and in some instances asked to remove the clippings that hold the headscarf in place.

The HRCSL expressed strong concern on the situation and said people have to be ensured the liberty to enter places that are accessible by the general public if they do not act in an illegal manner. It states that the prevention of people accessing public places who do not act against the state of emergency and the common law of the country goes against Article 12 and 14 (1) (h) of the Constitution of Sri Lanka. It breaches the rights of equality and the right to move freely within the country, the Commission statement said.

Under Article 32A of emergency regulations it is prohibited to wear full-face cover in public places to ensure the identity of a person. This includes a ban on the burqa and the Niqab, and full-face, modular and off-road helmets.

On Monday, May 7, a dozen Muslim teachers clad in hijab were prevented from entering the Church of Ceylon Tamil Maha Vidyalaya in Puwakpitiya, Avissawella, by protesting parents. The parents demanded the teachers wear the sari to school.

The teachers were transferred following the incident.

There was a confusion following the Government’s move to ban the ‘concealing of the full face not including the ears’. Subsequently, it had to issue clarifications.