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Courts will decide

Published: 
Friday, May 25, 2018

It is indeed unfortunate that once again the hijab issue has to go before the courts. However, if that is what it will take to bring clarity to this matter, then by all means let us seek an interpretation of the law.

As was mentioned in this space yesterday, the hijab, a veil worn by some Muslim women as a symbol of modesty and privacy, has already been the subject of a legal challenge in the local courts—the 1994 case of Sumayyah Mohammed, then a student of Holy Name Convent in Port-of-Spain.

In the current case, officials of the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha and Lakshmi Girls’ Hindu College have been digging in their heels in the matter of on-the-job trainee Nafisah Nakhid, insisting she will not be allowed on the school compound in her hijab. They have not been swayed by condemnation from several quarters, including various religious groups including of the Hindu faith.

Hopefully, when Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi takes this matter to court the outcome will be very clear and guidelines on religious freedom and parameters will be established for schools and other institutions, particularly those that are funded by the state.

T&T is not unique as a multicultural society having to grapple with issues related to religious and cultural expressions, but this is an opportunity to set an important precedent

What about sexual harassment?

In the era of #metoo, it is surprising that Government has not responded to calls for sexual harassment legislation.

The latest person to raise the issue is Industrial Court President Debra Thomas-Felix, who highlighted in an address at a symposium hosted by the National Trade Union Centre (NATUC) how aspects of T&T culture have helped perpetuate unhealthy attitudes toward sex and sexuality.

The absence of a legal definition to guide employers and the workplace is indeed unacceptable.

A few weeks ago, a news feature carried by our sister station CNC3, on sexual harassment in the workplace, featured interviews with women who had been sexually harassed but did not report the incidents out of fear of victimisation.

This is not a matter to be treated lightly, as it seems to be widespread and should be given priority in Government’s legislative agenda.

Three cheers for Danny

Danny Thomas could have continued down a criminal path when he left prison 12 years ago. Instead, he has turned his life around by turning a boyhood pastime into a source of income—designing, building and selling box carts. Hopefully, his story, featured in yesterday’s T&T Guardian, will inspire others.

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