Kerala medics seek nod to wear hijab-like gear during surgery

Students say wearing hijab is “mandatory for Muslim women under all circumstances”

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM | Updated: 28 June, 2023 4:11 pm IST
Medics say they should be allowed to wear long sleeve scrub jackets and surgical hoods inside the operation theatre.

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: In a move that can reignite the hijab debate in Kerala, a group of Muslims students have written to the head of their medical college seeking permission to wear a hijab-like gear during surgeries.

In their letter to the principal of Government Medical College, Thiruvananthapuram, seven medical students said “wearing hijab is mandatory for Muslim women under all circumstances”.

“Hijab-wearing Muslims have a difficult time, finding a balance between donning religious attire and maintaining modesty while also complying with hospital and operation room regulations,” reads the letter, signed by students of MBBS batches of 2020, 2021, and 2022.

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They said that the college administration should allow them to wear modern alternatives of hijab inside the operation theatre to strike a balance between their Islamic religious beliefs and the hospital norms.

“Long sleeve scrub jackets and surgical hoods are available which allows us to maintain sterile precautions as well as our hijab,” they wrote, seeking permission to wear the special medical gear.

The letter has been signed by seven female MBBS students

In response to their request, the college has constituted a committee to discuss the student’s demand, principal Dr Lynette Morris informed media persons.

“The demand of the students cannot be accepted for now. International standards are maintained in operation theatres. The patient’s safety is paramount,” she said.

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The application comes months after neighbouring Karnataka witnessed a massive uproar following a ban by the then BJP government on wearing of hijab in the premises of education institutions. While a section of people argued that religious beliefs have no place in schools and colleges, another called it a crackdown on Muslim minorities.

Now-banned extremist Islamic outfit Popular Front of India’s (PFI) offshoot Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) and other Muslim groups had come out in protest against the government.

The order was challenged in the Karnataka High Court, which refused to rule in favour of the advocates of hijab, saying that the headscarf is “not an essential practice in Islam”. The verdict was further challenged in the Supreme Court which delivered a split verdict. The apex court will now create a three-judge bench to hear the matter.

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